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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Sharks’ win over Edinburgh is one of their greatest ever, says Marco Masotti

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Durban — Elated Sharks boss Marco Masotti reckons his team’s 22-19 defeat of Edinburgh in the Scottish capital “is one of the greatest victories in the history of the franchise” and while many former Sharks players might beg to differ, director of rugby Neil Powell was equally ecstatic.

The Sharks were terrific on defence, especially in the last minutes of the game when they had to defend for their lives and a fact as old as the game itself is that the way a team defends tells you everything about their team culture.

“We are so proud of the boys for the effort and character they showed. It was tough in the last few minutes but over the whole 80 minutes, they showed a lot of fight,” Powell said.

“That must become the standard for the Sharks — how we pitch up and play in every game. We saw on the field that all of the guys are on the same page and fully committed to where we want to go this season.”

The victory over an Edinburgh side that beat the Sharks in Durban last year was the only win for a South African team over the weekend, with the Stormers, Bulls and Lions losing overseas.

The Sharks move up from ninth to eighth on the United Rugby Championship standings and in terms of the SA Shield, the Durbanites have made up ground on the Bulls and Stormers, especially considering the Sharks have two games in hand.

Powell said the key to victory was fixing a significant issue in the previous week’s loss to Harlequins in the Champions Cup. Powell felt that the Sharks were not physical enough at the breakdowns and in the tackle.

“This week we asked the guys to be more physical and dominant and they did exactly that for the whole match,” he said.

“That first 25 minutes was an excellent start for us. We defended well, we stayed in our structure, and we played in the right areas of the field.

“That last 10 to 15 minutes they just played off our mistakes and we almost made the game unstructured, which suited their style of play, and the big message to the boys was to get back our structure and force them into our systems, to not get caught up in a loose game.”

Powell is probably talking about some of the near-fatal box kicking at the end of the game which almost gifted the game to an Edinburgh team hungry to attack. The Sharks would have been better served to keep the ball among the forwards and wind down the clock.

“We had opportunities to take the game away from them, but overall it was a very good win if you think of how the other SA teams went,” Powell said.

“In fact, it is a massive win for us and we will take confidence and momentum out of this one. We will enjoy this win and then fly back to SA and start out preparation for the Stormers this week.


IOL Sport

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