White okay with ugly

2014-04-21 00:00

SOMETIMES you have to win ugly, and that’s exactly what the Sharks did when they beat the Cheetahs in Durban on the weekend.

Sharks coach Jake White acknowledged that they weren’t at their best on the day, but the win was the most important result on the day.

“It wasn’t pretty,” White said after the game. “The message that I gave the players afterwards is that sometimes you’ve got to win ugly. Let’s not forget that a year ago we lost to that Free State side … It was almost a rerun of what we expected they were going to do this time.

“It wasn’t ideal, and there are things we didn’t get right … sometimes you play badly and you win, and you get a lot out of that,” White said.

At no point in the game did White feel that his charges could lose the game, having starved the Cheetahs of quality ball to launch an attack from. “I didn’t sense as the game was unfolding that they were doing enough to put us under pressure.”

White felt having a new flyhalf – their third of the season – in 20-year-old Tim Swiel, and two new wingers — Tonderai Chavhanga and Jaco van Tonder — in the backline made it difficult for them to find their rhythm.

“Not putting pressure on him [Swiel], it’s always going to be difficult to get some rhythm and some continuity going when you’ve got a new 10 literally playing in his first start. For him and both wingers starting in their first game for the Sharks was always going to be tough,” he said.

Van Tonder was a late inclusion into the side for JP Pietersen who pulled out of the squad on Thursday having tweaked his hamstring.

White spoke about the decision to hand the kicking duties to Swiel in the first half before reverting to Steyn in the second.

“It was my decision to tell Frans to take over. But, I think to be fair, Frans has matured a massive amount and he realises that when he was a young guy, the thing that made him feel like he was part of the team was when they backed him to do the goal kicking.

“Obviously Frans wants the 10 to feel as though he’s there for a reason. If Frans takes all those responsibilities, it doesn’t give the player much confidence that he’s been picked for the right reason. He had a couple of chances, he missed the first and another just before half time.

“They were relatively easy kicks for both of them. But Frans stepped up in the second half and took those kicks and it shows having him around helps us a lot,” said White.

Despite Heinrich Brüssow spending 10 minutes in the sin bin, Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské was happy having his star fetcher back in the side. “Heinrich is a world-class player and I think he showed that today once again. It was a pity about the yellow card that put a lot of pressure on us, but he’s the type of player that’s always on the fringes and he was really good today for the 70 minutes that he played,” Drotské told The Witness.

The Sharks will yet again face a different challenge when they take on the Highlanders in their next game, their last at home ahead of a four-week tour to New Zealand and Australia.

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