This past weekend’s action marked the start of the second round in the Currie Cup, but for the Sharks, it has already been a season of two halves.
Craig Lewis writes for IOL.
During the opening five rounds, the Sharks showed few signs that they were capable of breaking their trophy-winning drought and some sceptics said it was unlikely they would even make the play-offs.
However, they have truly turned the tables in recent weeks, fighting back from a heavy loss to the Cheetahs in round five to first beat a powerful Lions side before thrashing the Griquas and now Western Province away from home.
So what has caused this revolution? In a few words: team spirit, individual brilliance and tactical adaptability.
This season the Sharks’ coaches have spoken extensively about the character in the team and this was perfectly illustrated towards the end of their encounter against the Lions.
Trailing 9-11 and with the clock winding down, the Sharks rallied to reclaim the lead and then defended to secure the win that would prove to be the catalyst for their revival.
Coach John Plumtree said he was very proud of the character the team had showed over the last three rounds.
“After losing to the Cheetahs we have been able to turn things around. It’s been a really good effort from the boys and I am very encouraged by the team environment. They are starting to play for one another and enjoying their rugby, which is great.”
After their win over the Lions, there is also no denying that individual players have stepped up to the plate.
Loose-forward Jean Deysel has provided the Sharks with invaluable go-forward ball since returning from injury, prop Deon Carstens has been on top of his game, while Jacques Botes and Keegan Daniel have been particularly industrious.
Botes is, in fact, the competition’s leading try-scorer, having scored six tries this season.
The impact of the returning Boks and the youthful exuberance of up-and-coming stars Chris Jordaan, Riaan Swanepoel and Charl McLeod have also been at the centre of the Sharks’ resurgence.
And at the beginning of September, the Sharks will receive even more firepower with all of their national players set to become available for selection and with the likes of John Smit, Adi Jacobs and Bismarck du Plessis sure to be among that group, it bodes well for the Sharks.
It has also been good to see how the Sharks have adapted their game plan after it initially failed them early on.
The Sharks, who are on top of the log, will enjoy a well-earned break before returning to training. Plumtree agreed that his team were presently in a favourable position, but said that when they returned to action they would have to keep their eye on the prize, the Currie Cup.Tweet