Sharks need to finish with a flourish

2008-05-05 00:00

THE Sharks have battled to run in tries all season, but they will have to suddenly flourish in their remaining two games if they are to have any chance of reaching the semi-finals of the Super 14.

The Sharks, sixth on the log with 32 points, end their season at home against the Cheetahs and the fifth-placed Chiefs over the next fortnight. They need to win both games, with bonus points, to challenge for a top four spot. And even then other results have to work in their favour.

The Crusaders (47 points) are already assured of a home semi-final and the second-placed Waratahs (37 points) probably need to win only one of their remaining two games to join them in the semi-finals.

The Sharks’ best chance of advancing would appear to be if they can pick up 10 log points in the next two weeks and then hope that the Waratahs beat the fourth-placed Stormers (35 points).

The bottom line, of course, is that the Sharks have to win with tries and the failure of their young backs to fire this season has been a major disappointment.

Coach Dick Muir remains confident.

“We have the type of squad that can turn it around. We’ve planned this campaign well, even though we are disappointed with how many points we accumulated on tour.”

Muir said the Sharks were on the raw end of several refereeing decisions against the Brumbies.

“Against the Waratahs we were dominated in the collision area and what was pleasing was that we managed to fix that against the Crusaders.”

Muir said that the Sharks had one of their better games against the Crusaders and he was delighted with the way the players kept going at the end of five hard weeks on the road.

“It was a good performance and to come away with nothing was very disappointing.

Unfortunately, because of the conditions, we haven’t done a lot of playing this season.”

But Muir also conceded that they “played stupidly at times” against the Crusaders.

“We made a lot of mistakes early in our own half when we gave away 10 soft points and that cost us.”

The Sharks are hoping that lock Steven Sykes, who returned early from the tour with an ankle injury, will be back to face the Cheetahs on Saturday. Kick-off is 3 pm.

Semi-final contenders and remaining two rounds:

1. Crusaders (47 pts) vs Reds away; Highlanders home

2. Waratahs (37 pts) vs Stormers away; Reds away

3. Hurricanes (36 pts) vs Force home; Blues away

4. Stormers (35 pts) vs Waratahs home; Lions away

5. Chiefs (33) vs Lions away; Sharks away

6. Sharks (32) vs Cheetahs home; Chiefs home

7. Blues (31) vs Highlanders away; Hurricanes home.

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