United Rugby Championship

Sharks left contemplating what might have been after close Cardiff loss

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Sean Everitt. (Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans Agency/Gallo Images)
Sean Everitt. (Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans Agency/Gallo Images)

Sharks head coach Sean Everitt's disappointment was palpable in his voice following their narrow 23-17 loss to the Cardiff Blues in Wales on Saturday night - a game they admittedly should have won.

Victory would have added gloss to the Durban team's first foray into Europe with a second United Rugby Championship (URC) win, but defeat consigned them to one win in four outings, like the Bulls and Lions.

The Sharks ran Cardiff ragged in the opening quarter of the second half, a 20-minute spell spent cornering Cardiff like Tyson Fury to Deontay Wilder in the 11th round of their heavyweight championship bout.

READ | Sharks rue missed penalties, goal-kicking opportunities in Cardiff defeat

However, unlike the "Gypsy King", the Sharks failed to land the knockout punch and spurned goal-kicking chances that would have ramped up scoreboard pressure in the process.

"We are very disappointed with the result," said Everitt.

"The guys put in a lot of effort, particularly in the second half [but] we weren't clinical enough to get over the line.

"Had we scored one or two tries there, when we had the opportunity, it would have been different.

"The guys were under the pump in the first half and did extremely well to get ourselves back into the game, only for us to spill opportunities close to the try line.

"Those are lessons learnt by the boys about being clinical at the highest level and, at times, on this trip, we weren't as good as we should have been.

"Credit must go to Cardiff's defence. With a bit of luck, we could have won the game."

South African franchises have more than a month off to ruminate over their humbling - or is it humiliating? - four wins from 16 collective clashes in Europe.

Officiating was the talk of the town for most matches, but the South Africans cannot claim to have put together impressive enough performances to neutralise the refereeing factor.

The Sharks had their moments, and a few players, such as flyhalf Boeta Chamberlain, grew their reputations overseas.

"One has to look at the tour as a whole. I believe that all the South African franchises have made a remarkable improvement; it is really tough playing away from home," Everitt said.

"But we've grown a lot as a group. A lot of youngsters had opportunities to play in Europe, which will stand us in good stead going forward.

"We are looking forward to coming home and, hopefully, playing in front of our fans come 27 November."

The Sharks resume their campaign against Scarlets at Kings Park (17:30). 

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