Sharks fans expected a huge response from their team against Welsh side Ospreys at Kings Park on Friday night following the dismal 35-nothing dismissal by Cardiff at home last Sunday, which saw the back of their former head coach Sean Everitt.
But what they saw in the first half of their 25-10 win over Ospreys didn’t inspire much confidence that the desired response, Welsh heads on a stake, was forthcoming.
They had possession but laboured to create something worthwhile on attack. Ospreys seemed happy to "park the bus" and try to frustrate the South Africans into errors.
AS IT HAPPENED | Sharks 25-10 Ospreys
The Everitt sacking had no immediate tangible change of tact. Everything the Sharks did looked hard, except for their scrums, which were dominant.
Director of rugby Neil Powell still has a big job on his hands to try get the Durban side watchable to the eye and consistent in their general play, let alone in getting results.
The inclusion of Springboks Jaden Hendrikse, Makazole Mapimpi, Ox Nche, and Bongi Mbonambi into the starting line-up had a nominal effect in the half. It didn't deliver the iron-fisted turnaround from the bluntness of last weekend although it was enough to secure the result in the end.
Flyhalf Curwin Bosch, who returned from an injury that kept him out of the United Rugby Championship (URC) start, had them playing in the right areas at least and contributed with his trusted boot.
He’d have been feeling bittersweet about Everitt’s departure, a man who trusted in him so much, but under whom he also lost much of his fragile confidence. But the coaching change didn’t seem to hamper the two-time Springbok flyhalf too much.
His two penalties gave the hosts an incremental 6-0 lead at the break.
The visitors crossed the white line first, through Luke Morgan five minutes into the second half after a well-pinned Jack Walsh cross-kick.
But the Sharks got the wake-up call they needed because four minutes later loose-forward Sikhumbuzo Notshe barged his way over near the right-hand corner.
After scoring, the Sharks again relaxed their intensity, something that could have hurt them if they allowed Ospreys back into the contest.
That ominous lax in intensity showed itself after 66 minutes when, after winning a scrum penalty, the men in white went to the corner from where No 8 Morgan Morris scored.
The two missed Ospreys conversions were the only thing that kept the Sharks ahead by a point at 11-10 heading to the death.
Bosch, though, scored the try that effectively saved the Sharks from another disappointing display at home, rounding off a neat move after sustained pressure.
Substitute James Venter scored late on to put the seal on the victory.
Sharks – (6) 25
Tries: Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Curwin Bosch, James Venter
Penalties: Bosch (2)
Ospreys – (0) 10
Tries: Luke Morgan, Morgan Morris