White: Sharks control their destiny

2014-05-26 00:00

DIRECTOR of rugby Jake White hailed the Sharks’ tour of Australasia a success, but admitted they still had to be on their toes as the regular Super Rugby season headed for a crunch closing in the weeks ahead.

The competition leaders returned to Durban on Saturday night after making it three wins out of four from their overseas trip by beating the Blues 29-23 in Albany on Friday, a victory built around another immense defensive display at the North Harbour Stadium.

“It [our job and mindset] is still the same, there’s a lot of rugby still to be played,” the Sharks boss said. “I mean, we’re mindful of the fact there’s a lot of good teams out there.

“We’re under no illusions that it’s difficult, but at the same time it’s a massive boost to know that if you keep winning you can control your own destiny.

“I suppose that’s what we’re all aiming for.”

Apart from the superb defensive showing, White’s men were also clinical with the few attacking opportunities that came their way, scoring tries in each half through captain Bismarck du Plessis and impressive scrumhalf Cobus Reinach.

There was also a 16-point contribution from the assured Frans Steyn, while three points came from the boot of SP Marais at a crucial juncture in the game when the former was in the sin bin for a professional foul and the hosts had just closed to within six points of the lead.

Steyn’s 62nd minute yellow card was the second dished out to the Durbanites, with Jannie du Plessis the recipient of the first when referee Nick Briant lost patience following three penalties within the space of seconds two minutes into the second half.

Last week they famously won playing with 14 men for over three-quarters of the game against the Crusaders in Christ­church.

“You know, those are the sorts of things I suppose as a coach that you obviously get really proud,” White said. “And they’ll obviously take a lot of confidence from that sort of performance.

“It’s not ideal and you don’t want to be playing with 14 men, but I’ve got to say it’s a massive boost to get out of that one with 14 men.”

The big picture for the Sharks, who took 13 points in total on tour, is they managed to consolidate their position at the summit after moving to 44 points.

They maintained their five-point lead over the chasing pack, which shook up dramatically after the latest round of games, with the Waratahs (39) and Crusaders (37) now following.

The Brumbies and Chiefs, second and third on 35 points prior to the round, dropped out of the play-off places to seventh and eighth respectively.

White added: “Since we left we’ve been top of the log, so the message was, as long as we can control our destiny by winning, and make sure we don’t have to worry about other results going our way, then we’re in a position of strength.”

Ten members of the Sharks’ squad will meanwhile participate in Heyneke Meyer’s Springbok training camp in Durban during the early part of the week.

A total of 36 players have been called up to the training squad, the latest addition being impressive young King’s Park lock Stephan Lewies, who came in as a replacement for injured captain Jean de Villiers.

Lewies (22) and centre S’bura Sithole (23) are the two uncapped locals in the group, with the others being captain Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Jannie du Plessis, Marcell Coetzee, Willem Alberts, Steyn, Lwazi Mvovo and JP Pietersen.

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