Following a worrying defeat to the Cheetahs over the weekend, the Sharks may feel the need to make some serious improvements before the resumption of the United Rugby Championship (URC) this weekend.
Coach Sean Everitt knows this.
His side resume their URC campaign, after a month-long break, by hosting the Scarlets of Wales at Kings Park Stadium on Saturday. Kick-off is at 530 pm.
To prepare for the Europeans’ arrival, Everitt’s side played the Cheetahs in a 40-34 result in the Toyota Challenge in Bloemfontein.
Though the clash was nothing more than a warm-up for the Durbanites, it did expose the Sharks’ defensive frailties.
The Durban-based franchise desperately need to start doing well in the URC following their run of three defeats and a single win on the tough European tour.
Everitt’s men started well against the Cheetahs but let the encounter slip in the late stages through defensive errors, which led to the Cheetahs snatching the victory.
“It’s been a while since we last played. It has been five weeks and we knew we were going to be rusty, and we used the last couple of weeks as a mini-preseason, as we haven’t had that opportunity prior to the Currie Cup,” said Everitt.
“I think the guys might have been a bit tired in the legs, but that’s an excuse for us. We’ve got to get better than we were against the Cheetahs. We are just thankful that we had this opportunity to play a game before we take on the Scarlets at Kings Park,” he said.
Errors in defence are not the only thing the coach will be focusing on as he said there are other areas that need serious attention as well, consistency for the duration of the game being one of them.
“I thought our set-piece deteriorated as the game went on, particularly in the last 10 minutes. We had ascendency in the scrum and we won a few penalties, but the Cheetahs took over that ascendancy. That’s a work-on for us,” he said.
“Our lineout at times when we were in the goal zone and had good opportunities there, we didn’t get clean balls that we would have liked to. I think that was the difference between the first 20 minutes and the last 20 minutes.”
The game gave the coach a chance to give some of his new recruits a run, including former Wallabies centre Ben Tapuai, Samoan flanker Olajuwon Noah and Dian Bleuler.
Connacht v Ospreys — 9.35 pm
Benetton v Glasgow Warriors — 3 pm
Stormers v Zebre — 3 pm
Sharks v Scarlets — 5.30 pm
Dragons v Edinburgh — 7.15 pm
Bulls v Munster — 7.45 pm
Leinster v Ulster — 10 pm
Lions v Cardiff — 4 pm.