Youthful Sharks in impressive comeback

2014-08-25 00:00

THE Sharks’ victory over the Cheetahs on Saturday night was a big character test for the youthful squad who have now ­enjoyed three Currie Cup wins in a row.

A brilliant cross-cover tackle by Sharks wing Odwa Ndungane in the dying moments of the game sealed the win for the home side after the Cheetahs stretched them close to losing in front of the King’s Park faithful.

Sharks coach Brad Macleod-Henderson was content with the 19-16 result and thought the most important factor was the spirit his team showed to come back from behind.

“I think it was a huge character test when you consider that there are so many young guys in the side.

“Being 13-0 down, to keep the belief, keep the commitment, keep the courage, keep playing and then hanging in there at the end to ensure that we got the win. From that point of view, we are very happy,” the coach said after the game.

The match certainly was trying and the Sharks will have to look at few aspects of their game that were not quite up to the standard they would have liked.

“The first half we didn’t really get anything going, our handling let us down and we were probably a little bit weak at the breakdown so there are quite a few areas that we can work on this week,” he said.

The game was turned around when the Sharks rang changes, which showed that the side have some depth.

“I think it [replacements] made a huge difference, they came on and made a big impact for us so it was great,” he said.

Macleod-Henderson did concede that the replacements were made earlier than planned to give the Sharks a new breath of life.

A tireless worker was flank Francois Kleinhans, who got his first Currie Cup start of the season. The openside flank had a busy night and made some crucial steals at the breakdown.

“Francois put in his first 80 minutes and I thought he played very well,’ said the coach.

“He didn’t stop trying, he kept going for the full 80 in a tough position at openside so I was very happy with him.”

Despite scoring three tries from the lineout drive against the Pumas the week before, the Sharks were tested by a very dynamic Cheetahs maul.

“I think in the first half their lineout drive hurt us a few times. Fortunately we chatted about it at half time and it got better in the second half. But in Currie Cup and South African rugby, ­lineout drives are part and parcel of that so it’s an area we need to keep on working at,” the coach said.

The Sharks now have a short turn around before they travel to Mpumalanga to take on the Pumas on Friday night.

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