How motormouth motivated Sharks

Sun, 30 Mar 2014 14:53
Large sharks v waratahs2

Michael Cheika's propensity for pre-match outbursts is what motivated the Sharks in Durban at the weekend.

Michael Cheika's propensity for pre-match outbursts is what motivated the Sharks in Durban at the weekend.

In a spiteful match - which saw Waratahs captain Dave Dennis yellow carded for a childish shove on Sharks counterpart Bismarck du Plessis - it was the home team that came out on top in a lopsided 32-10 scoreline.

As it is, the Tahs' scoreline was given a touch of respectability with a 78th-minute Bernard Foley try - that after their only other points came in the fourth minute.

In between the Sharks dominated on the scoreboard and also strangled the visitors in a game that at times threatened to boil over.

Late in the first half Sharks captain Bismark du Plessis was clearly heard asking New Zealand referee Mike Fraser to stop the ongoing foul play.

"Every time pulling, punching in the scrums - we're not going to take it anymore," the burly Bok hooker, Du Plessis, told the Kiwi match official.

Fraser responded by asking the Sharks captain not to react to it, to which the hooker replied: "No we're not going to react to it, but you can't keep punching, punching, punching."

Fraser told him: "I agree."

And inside the first 10 minutes of the second half the referee reacted by issuing a yellow card to Dennis, when the Waratahs captain, without provocation, pushed Du Plessis right in front of him.

And in the post-match wash-up it emerged the Sharks had prepared by using Cheika's pre-match statements as motivation.

Sharks Director of Rugby Jake White labelled the win - which cemented the side's spot at the top of the Super Rugby ladder - a "huge result" and thanked Cheika for handing him the ammunition.

"We had to front up, they are very abrasive, they've got big, strong ball-runners, they bashed the Reds, so we knew we would have to front up," he told a post-match media briefing.

"There had been a lot of talk in the media about [going] toe to toe and intensity and aggression, so I suppose I must thank Mike [Cheika] for making my team talk easier, I just put it all on the [message] board [in the team room]."

When Cheika's assessment that the match had been close was put to White, he retorted: "Whatever Michael Cheika says, we believe, don't we."

Cheika suggested the game, despite the scoreline, was "tight", tilted only by a massively lopsided penalty count.

"It was only two tries to one in the end, it was not like we were chasing tries everywhere," he said.

"It was a tight game in many aspects and we finally got a try in the end."

White also dredged up the infamous broken door incident from the Brumbies-Waratahs game three weeks ago.

Cheika shattered the pane of glass in the Canberra Stadium facility at the end of the match -  the Tahs' only other defeat this season.

White was asked for his take on the penalty count, which grew to 20-9 against the Waratahs and was questioned by Cheika in his post-match comments.

"I just want to see if our [the Kings Park Stadium] coaches box is still alright, because I have to get [Chief Executive John Smit] to get some insurance for it," White quipped.

"Hopefully it's not too damaged."

Sources: SAPA & Sydney Morning Herald

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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Rebels 3 3 0 0 15
Reds 3 2 0 1 8
Brumbies 4 2 0 2 8
Waratahs 3 1 1 1 6
Sunwolves 4 0 0 4 2
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Highlanders 3 3 0 0 13
Hurricanes 3 2 0 1 10
Crusaders 4 2 0 2 10
Chiefs 3 2 0 1 8
Blues 4 1 0 3 6
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 5 4 0 1 19
Stormers 5 2 0 3 9
Sharks 4 1 1 4 9
Bulls 4 1 0 3 5
Jaguares 4 1 0 3 4