Durban – “This cannot happen again.” Those were the words of devastated Sharks director Neil Powell after his team had been thrashed at home by the Stormers on Saturday.
Powell was at loss to explain how his team had shown great courage to beat Edinburgh away and then failed to mentally pitch for a derby with their arch-rivals from the Cape.
The Stormers scored three brilliant tries in the opening quarter to scorch into a 20-point lead. They would eventually prevail 46-19 in a result that will hurt in the Shark Tank for years to come.
“I have no excuses,” Powell said. “I am not sure that after the Edinburgh game, we thought this would be an easy game being at home but clearly our mental preparation coming into this game was wrong.
“We must learn from this because we can’t be in a situation again where we play so well and show so much fight in a match and then the next game there is nothing.”
Most of the Stormers’ tries came from elementary Sharks’ mistakes. A missed touch two minutes into the game started the ball rolling and the gifts to the Stormers just kept coming, and flyhalf Manie Libbok was breathtaking in cashing in.
Speaking of Libbok, what is going on at the Sharks that they let quality players go who then flourish at rival unions? Why did Libbok not work out in Durban but became world-class in Cape Town?
Why was Ruben van Heerden let go last year? And now he is blossoming … at the Stormers.
But back to Powell.
“We know the Stormers punish you if you make mistakes but that is exactly what we let happen,” he said. “To be frank, we have undone the good things we did against Edinburgh. It is about the effort and that was not good enough.
“If we want to be a champion team we have to get up for every single game and be ready for what the opposition is going to bring.”
The Sharks have a break this week before playing the Lions away on February 18 and Powell says there is more than enough time to fix matters in the United Rugby Championship.
“We’ve still got seven games left. We are only halfway through the season. There is still a lot of rugby to play. I do believe that we can still make the knockout stages.”