Sharks coach: We let it slip in the wet

2013-10-14 00:00

COACH Brad Macleod-Henderson says the Sharks’ inability to take their scoring opportunities against Western Province in the rain at King’s Park on Saturday night had cost them the opportunity to host the Currie Cup final on October 26.

The Sharks were pipped 17-13 in the final league game to finish second while Province, unbeaten in the Currie Cup, will now meet the Golden Lions in the early semi-final this weekend and will host the final if they advance.

The Sharks have the tougher semi-final, against the Free State Cheetahs at King’s Park, on Saturday evening but Macleod-Henderson said the players were still in positive mood in spite of the frustrating loss.

“We’re looking forward to the semi-final and potentially playing Province again in the final. It’s is all to play for this Saturday against Cheetahs. We’re certainly not down in the dumps.”

Both Macleod-Henderson and Province coach Allister Coetzee agreed that the Sharks would have won had they taken their chances on Saturday.

“We were lucky in this game, but we got the win we wanted,” said Coet­zee.

The Sharks missed four goalable kicks — two by flyhalf Fred Zeilinga in the first half and two after the break by replacement Pat Lambie.

“The Sharks’ goal-kicking wasn’t up to their normal standard and we could have been in trouble if they converted more of their penalties,” Coet­zee admitted.

Macleod-Henderson agreed.

“It was disappointing. We had chances to get the win, but we let it slip through our fingers.”

The Sharks were guilty of playing too much rugby in the poor conditions of the first half and piled error upon error to trail 14-6.

“In the second half we played well for territory nicely and spent much of the game in their half,” said the Sharks coach. “But there were a few opportunities we didn’t take. There were handling errors and we didn’t secure the ball in a couple of our set pieces and that really cost us.”

The Sharks’ set piece was vulnerable and Macleod-Henderson said that the scrum would be a focus of attention this week.

The Sharks suffered a setback minutes before the kick-off when captain and number eight Keegan Daniel took a ball in the face during the warm-up and he only took the field for the second half. This allowed replacement Jacques Botes to start and set a new South African record for the number of Currie Cup appearances (143).

“Keegan was feeling a bit dizzy just before the game so we decided to rest him for a while. He was fantastic in the second half,” said Macleod-Henderson.

He said that the Sharks were fortunate to have two quality flyhalves in Zeilinga and Lambie.

“Fred played well in the first half and then Pat came on and really showed what a quality flyhalf he is.”

Lambie would start against Free State on Saturday, he added.

“It was good to have the Boks available and we’ll be better for having them back against the Cheetahs.”

The Sharks coach refused to blame the weather for the defeat.

“The conditions were there for both sides. You need to adapt and play accordingly and we won’t use that as an excuse.”

Coetzee said he was delighted with both the result and his team’s unbeaten run in the Currie Cup and this should ensure the first final at Newlands since 2001.

“It is a tough competition and finishing top of the log says a lot about this team’s character,” he said.

Coetzee said the WP’s excellent set piece was the decisive factor in a close game. “Our pack was unbelievable. It was a complete eight-man effort at scrum-time and I’m really pleased we dominated the scrums.

“But credit to the Sharks who won the (tactical) kicking battle. They outkicked us in terms of distance.

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