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The Sharks revelled in their 'best performance of the season' after thrashing the Free State Cheetahs to climb top of the Currie Cup table in Durban on Saturday.
Both forwards coach Brad Macleod-Henderson and captain Keegan Daniel hailed the seven-try, 50-26 bonus-point win as the Durban side’s best performance to date.
“It was probably our best performance of the year,” said Daniel.
“Our set-piece functioned [well], we struggled a bit previously, and we showed when we have the ball what we’re capable of so I’m proud of the boys for the way they put their hands up. To put 50 against the Cheetahs, a quality team, hats off to the boys.”
The multi-talented loose forward said the performance set the standard for the remainder of the competition as last year’s losing finalists look to peak at the perfect time.
“You want to start improving from here on out with three games left before the finals. We want to keep building and improving week-in and week-out and this is a step in the right direction,” he said.
Daniel had special praise for tireless flank Marcell Coetzee, who was one of four Springboks released for Currie Cup duty this week and who turned in a man of the match performance.
“When a guy like Marcell comes back from the Boks and you see the effort he puts in, it really inspires the team,” he said.
Coetzee, after weeks of inactivity as a member of the wider Springbok squad, showed no rustiness and his hunger for game time was apparent in his intense outing. The modest young loose forward, however, shifted the praise to his coaches and teammates.
“It’s a lot of information to take in but I really have to commend the coaches and the players. They were welcoming and warming and spent extra hours with me, so I just want to give credit to the players and coaches,” said Coetzee.
Macleod-Henderson said: “I think the players were fantastic today. In no way did I expect to score 50 points against a quality outfit like Free State.
“We played for the full 80 minutes on both attack and defence and the guys were just awesome.”
It was the biggest win of the new Sharks era under Director of Rugby Brendan Venter, along with coaches Macleod-Henderson and Sean Everitt.
The KwaZulu-Natal side had struggled to assert their dominance in some of their previous games due to poor starts and the conceding of early points, although that was far different on Saturday.
“We've had a look at the scenario and it was almost a case of making one or two silly errors early on in games, allowing opposition in for relatively easy scores.
“We knew if we sorted that out we'll be alright and today, right from the word go we were up for the game.
“The guys took the game to Free State, we played in the right areas on the field, we took our opportunities and that told on the scoreboard,” said Macleod-Henderson.
Apart from Mvovo, SP Marais, Heimar Williams, Tim Whitehead, Keegan Daniel and Cobus Reinach all crossed as the Sharks moved to 24 points alongside Western Province, albeit top on points difference.
“The competition is so tight that on any day any team can beat anyone, we're seeing that every week.
“Next week we've got another tough game and we'll have to be up for the challenge when we go up to Johannesburg,” said Macleod-Henderson.
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