No excuses for 'disjointed' Sharks
CURRIE CUP REACTION: The Sharks caretaker coach Paul Anthony has made no excuses for his side's dismal Currie Cup performance in Bloemfontein at the weekend.
The Sharks suffered an emphatic 12-47 defeat against the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
The Sharks fielded an inexperienced 23-man squad which included 11 Currie Cup debutants.
Anthony admitted that he was content with fielding the inexperienced Currie Cup side, instead, it was the scrums which proved to be problematic.
"We just fell short in the front row and it could be due to the front row's late arrival in Bloemfontein. They only arrived on Tuesday, so we only had one training session with them...it was evident in our performance,” Paul Anthony told reporters.
"We were disjointed and there were times when it was very patchy and loose.
"Having said all that, I am not making excuses for the side.
"It was the 25 players after the first 45, however, a lot of them played together in the National Provincial Challenge which made me comfortable with the selection."
The Sharks' narrow 21-23 Super Rugby quarter-final defeat to the Lions means that coach Robert du Preez - along with key players - will now return to the Currie Cup side.
"The return of the senior guys will affect the side dramatically. A few will obviously have to play in the Under-21 Currie Cup. While the rest will all be on the fringes of the senior side.
"A lot of them put their hands up and proved they deserved a spot in the senior side.
"I will give them a chance to improve but it all depends on how [Du Preez] will rotate them," he added.
Meanwhile, captain Keegan Daniel admitted there was some decision that could have influence the match dramatically.
The Sharks trailed by 10 points at the break. They could have narrowed the deficit, especially with Uzair Cassiem's yellow card but failed to convert the territorial and numeral advantage into points.
The game took a huge turn in the last quarter. The Cheetahs went on to score 14 points before Bandisa Ndlovu's consolation effort.
"Towards the end of the second half, the match just swung in their favour," the Sharks captain said.
"A lot of people would be critical and say we could have converted the two penalty attempts, just to keep us in the game and give us some confidence. Who could have known what would have happened from there?"
The skipper revealed it was "difficult" reading the Cheetahs' unpredictable backline players.
"The Cheetahs played like the Currie Cup Champs. I mean they pumped us, it was difficult for us to size up who they going to play and what they are going to bring.
"Their forwards were stable and with guys like Rosco Specman, Raymond Rhule, Clayton Blommetjies and Cecil Afrika in the backline, they just made it difficult for us to keep up with them.
"However, we have to remember it's week one, and the first game of the tournament," he added.
The Sharks' next match is against the Pumas in Durban on Saturday, July 29.
By Leezil Hendricks