Hard to see Sharks’ Super 15 season imploding

2014-07-09 00:00

JANNIE du Plessis admits watching the Sharks’ season almost implode is a difficult pill to swallow, especially after all the hard work put in earlier in the campaign.

The Durban side lost back-to-back Super Rugby games for the first time over the last two rounds and have subsequently slipped from first to third on the overall table.

Du Plessis (31) says the disappointment is palpable as the Sharks now face a real prospect of missing out on a top-two placing when the regular season concludes this weekend.

“The feeling is terrible, it’s not good at all,” he said, reflecting on losses to the Stormers and Cheetahs in the last two games.

“We played against the Stormers before the [international] break and we really wanted to capitalise on the hard work that was done on tour, but we made some irrational decisions on the field and it came back to bite us.

“We were really keen to turn that around against the Cheetahs. I think we showed a lot of intent and we didn’t lack any urgency. I can’t think of anyone that didn’t want to win. But if you look at performance on a whole, it wasn’t good enough,

“They were just good on the day. They capitalised on our mistakes and we could not finish our attacking plays. It was just disappointing.”

The Sharks are now likely to end third on the log as they trail the Crusaders by a -8 points difference, with both locked on 46 log points.

They play the in-form Stormers in Cape Town and will have to match what the seven-time champions do in their final result against the Highlanders in Christchurch. The permutations are many.

The least the Sharks will have to do is win with a bonus point and by a healthy margin, but the advantage they have is knowing exactly what they will need to do by Saturday morning when the fixture in New Zealand will be played.

“That’s [not having a home semi-final] probably the most disappointing thing,” Du Plessis said.

“If you work so hard the whole year, every single guy bought into the plan and everyone wants to get some success in the black and white jersey, it is disappointing.

“It almost makes you bitter knowing you couldn’t play well enough on the weekend. So basically 80 minutes of rugby can undo 15 weeks of hard work.”

Director of rugby Jake White faces some huge decisions this week. Whether to settle for third place and ensure his players are fresh to go in next week’s first play-off weekend or go all out to try and leapfrog the Crusaders?

The former will mean he could rest most of his seniors, while the latter may lead to a bye next weekend.

Du Plessis says their strategy for the game has yet to be discussed, with the main talking point this week ­being reflection and trying to determine the way forward.

“We’re going to try to go back to what works for us,” he added. “We’re going to defend hard, we’re going to play in the right areas and we’re going to play the rugby that works for us.”

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