A lot of momentum and a lot of confidence
Sharks boss Jake White would like his side to use their performance against the Stormers at Newlands as a template for how to approach the play-offs.
Although his side may have fallen one try and 11 points short of their ultimate target on Saturday, White was understandably pleased with the 'finals rugby' his side played against a Stormers team that has recently found their best form of the season.
After a deflating defeat to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last week, White called on his best team to get them some momentum before the play-offs and they did just that in a game that had his stamp all over it.
The Stormers had the majority of possession but couldn't make it count in the face of a committed defensive effort from the Sharks who pounced on some late counter-attacking opportunities to run away with the game in the end.
It was built on the foundation of an immense physical effort from their pack who semed to relish the brutality of what was typical of the trench warfare we expect in South African derbies, and White believes that the tough examination from the Stormers was just what his side needed ahead of the play-offs, calling for a repeat of that display in the knock-out games to follow.
"We had to come here and get some momentum going into the play-offs, in a lot of ways the way we played now is probably the way we want to play in the next couple of rounds because it is all knock-out now.
"I just think we need to copy and paste, it sounds obvious but it is there. We played and strangled them and when we got a turnover we scored from 60 yards out.
"We defended, I think at one stage 70 percent of the possession had gone to the Stormers, and if we can replicate that for three weeks we can win the competition it is as simple as that," he said.
He said that although their goal had been to socre the required four-try victory by 35 points, but tempered any disappointment by pointing out that they will take plenty of momentum into their clash with the Highlanders in Durban next week thanks to their strong finish.
"We had to believe it could happen, if we had come out here and not given it a crack we would never have forgiven ourselves. Stranger things have happened in sport and for a moment there I could sense that the crowd thought it was going to happen.
"We will get a lot of momentum and a lot of confidence out of that, the way it ended and the way we used our bench. Obviously we would have liked to get the 35 points and the fourth try but there is still enough there for us to move forward," he said.
White paid tribute to the solid platform laid by his forward pack, both in the set-phases and at the breakdown which allowed them to soak up so much pressure from the Stormers.
"I thought the tight forwards played really well. Thomas du Toit is 19 years old playing against a Stormers team at Newlands in a big South African derby game, Marcell Coetzee was man of the match.
"Everyone knows that if your forwards are going forward guys like Marcell play well, guys like Thomas find it easier to slot into our team so I am obviously very delighted with the way our forward pack stood up," he said.
He added that the attitude his team showed on defence gives him plenty of hope that they can go all the way and win their first title this year.
"You can't coach that, when you have been defending for 70 % of the time against guys that are desperately coming at your line, that makes coaches happy.
"That is the part of the game that comes from the players, you can have all the defensive structures and talk about how you are going to get off the line but when you see it actually happening and you see the confidence they get when the bench comes on and everyone is still buying into the group then you get happy.
"If you take that into a game at home, into a full house in Durban and then a trip overseas to beat two teams that we beat this year we can't be laughing at that," he pointed out.
White hopes to welcome back Bok flyhalf Pat Lambie, prop Tendai Mtawarira and scrumhalf Cobus Reinach next week, whilst JP Pietersen is expected to recover from his concussion to face the Highlanders who have a job on their hands to try and reverse the momentum picked up at Newlands on Saturday.
By Michael de Vries