Sharks reflect on bittersweet season

Thu, 01 Nov 2012 14:03
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It was a case of close but no cigar for the Durban-based Sharks in 2012 as assistant coach Grant Bashford assesses the season.

It was a case of close but no cigar for the Durban-based Sharks in 2012 as assistant coach Grant Bashford assesses the season.

The Sharks overcame a number of obstacles to progress to the Super Rugby and Currie Cup Finals but tripped over the last hurdle on both occasions to finish the season empty handed.  

Bashford, in the wake of the team’s 25-18 home loss to Western Province in the Currie Cup decider, admitted the disappointment is hard to swallow.  

“We are absolutely shattered, we’re gutted,” Bashford said. “You get one shot at it and on the day we weren’t good enough.”  

He explained that the team had more than a misfiring line-out to blame for loss against Province.

“Obviously everyone has spoken about the line-out not functioning, which was a big problem in the game because every time we got an opportunity, we ended up defending again and couldn’t get any momentum going.

“That was part of it, but we turned over a number of balls and committed handling errors as well. So, although the line-out was a major cause of concern, it wasn’t the only issue. They just played better than us on the day.”

Having acknowledged the side’s shortcomings, Bashford ruled out suggestions that it were the team who wanted it more who lifted the Currie Cup.

“I don’t think we weren’t hungry. Looking back at our preparation for the game, we had a really good build-up and everyone was really confident going into the match without being overconfident.

“We believed that if we played well, we would have the better of them. Unfortunately, we didn’t play well enough. It was a frustrating afternoon.

“And despite not playing well, had we scored in the last minute and gone into extra time, anything could have happened. Pat kicked well so every time we had opportunities to put points on the board, we did.

“Defensively we were at 93%, so it wasn’t like we defended badly, but one defensive error and they were under the poles which cost us seven points.

“It was one of those days when the little mistakes cost us and because of that we couldn’t get going because we were turning ball over, and the ball we were getting from our set-piece was getting turned over.”

Looking at the bigger picture, Bashford believes the Sharks are on the right track and are destined for silverware.

“I don’t think we are far off,” he said. “We played in two finals this year and you have to do a whole lot of things right to get to finals.

“We put the Super Rugby Final loss down to travel – it was simply a bridge too far – it was probably that one game against the Lions in Joburg that could have cost us. If we had win, we could have had a home play-off.

“And we were pretty consistent during the Currie Cup, although we battled to win away from home at times, but we were able to beat the Cheetahs away as well as Western Province. So we did enough in the latter stages to force a home Final.

“We played pretty well in the semi so there was good momentum going into the final and we thought we integrated the Boks pretty well, but on the day… it showed that underdogs can win finals, nothing is a given, you need to perform on the day and that’s pretty much what happened to us.”

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Team P W D L Pts
Free State Cheetahs 8 8 0 0 39
Blue Bulls 8 6 0 2 30
Western Province 8 5 0 3 27
Golden Lions 8 5 0 3 26
Sharks 8 5 0 3 25
Griquas 8 4 0 4 21
Boland 8 2 0 6 11
Pumas 8 1 0 7 10
EP Kings 8 0 0 8 1