Durban - Sharks coach John Plumtree says his team was left “embarrassed and hurt” after being stunned in a 29-10 defeat to the Brumbies at Kings Park on Saturday.
A spectacular first-half display by the Australians, who scored four tries in the opening period, set them on their way to a fourth successive win that kept them top of the overall Super Rugby standings.
“We were embarrassed and the team is embarrassed,” Plumtree said.
“There are senior players in the side that haven’t stepped up and juniors that have, which is not acceptable. The pride’s really hurt.”
Jesse Mogg, Joseph Tomane, Matt Toomua and Henry Speight all crossed the tryline during a fine opening 40 minutes, with the hosts rarely entering the opposition half, let alone their 22.
The attacking play from Jake White’s tourists was especially impressive as their exceptional ball handling skills and pace ripped apart the Sharks' defence.
“I thought they were outstanding,” Plumtree said.
“I mean, our defence clearly wasn’t up to the mark in the first half, particularly.
“In saying that, I don’t really want to take anything away from the Brumbies attack. The way they kept the ball and built pressure was a real lesson for us and probably a lot of teams.
“Defensively we haven’t had to sustain that type of attack before, so they just ate us up. They sapped our energy levels.
"It was just a tough night for us and we clearly weren’t good enough.”
The hosts looked marginally better after the break, with Ryan Kankowski dotting down for their only try of the match, but their improvement was not good enough as the Brumbies brough an end to the Durban side's unbeaten run.
The Sharks face the Rebels at Kings Park in the next round and Plumtree expected his side to bounce back.
“We’ve got seven days to turn the ship around and that’s what we’ve got to focus on.”
Brumbies boss White, who guided the Sprinboks to their second World Cup title in 2007, was thrilled to have beaten the South African team.
“To score four tries in the first 40 minutes against a Sharks side who were finalists last year, with a really good defence and a proud home record, speaks volumes for what we achieved,” White said.
It was the Canberra team's first win at Kings Park in six years.
“This is not a venue where you just pitch up and win," White said.
"We hadn’t won here since 2007, so we’ve got to appreciate the fact that it doesn’t just happen.
“At the same time we’ve got to be humble and not get ahead of ourselves.”