Without several Boks, Sharks raise the bar in stunning win

Liam Del Carme Sports reporter
Sharks replacement scrumhalf Cameron Wright holds off opposite number Charlie Shiel of Edinburgh in the United Rugby Championship match at DAM Health Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland on January 28 2023.
Sharks replacement scrumhalf Cameron Wright holds off opposite number Charlie Shiel of Edinburgh in the United Rugby Championship match at DAM Health Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland on January 28 2023.
Image: David Gibson/Fotosport/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

Sharks director of rugby Neil Powell has urged his team to adopt the standard that helped propel them to a stunning 22-19 away win at Edinburgh on Saturday night.

The Sharks delivered a performance that didn't just earn them a precious away win but would have served notice of their credentials after a significant spending spree over the last two seasons.

They showed what they are really capable of when the occasion demands it. What will be particularly pleasing for Powell and Co was the win was achieved with several marquee players back home 'resting'.

The men in reserve didn't just measure up to the challenge, they have now set the bar.

“This should be the standard for the Sharks in how we play and how we pitch up for every single game,” implored Powell.

The Sharks, who were the South African franchise that had the most success on the road in their time in Super Rugby, reprised that role in Edinburgh in an action-packed helter-skelter contest.

The visitors' cutting edge in attack helped get them in front just after the hour-mark, and then they used resolute defence to cut Edinburgh down to size in the final quarter. It is the bloody-mindedness they displayed in defence that will be the enduring legacy of the win.

“As a coaching team and management we are so proud of the boys for the effort, fight and character they showed.

“I know it was tough. In those last few minutes they showed a lot of fight. We asked for them to be physical and dominant. They did exactly that. They did for the whole 80 minutes,” said Powell.

Ox Nche, Henco Venter, Gerbrandt Grobler and Thomas du Toit among others, toiled up front but it was fullback Aphelele Fassi who walked off with the man of the match award, for a particularly defiant performance in defence.

Powell felt when Edinburgh made the game unstructured the Sharks were the most prone and at the break instructed the team to tighten the screws.

“The message to our boys was to get them to our structure,” said Powell who added they had opportunities to put the game beyond the hosts.

In the end though, it was their defence that won the day. “It's a massive win for us. We will take a lot of confidence, momentum and flow out of this one, We will enjoy this win.

“Everybody is committed to where we want to go this season. That commitment was shown on the field today especially in defence.”

On the back of their performance in Edinburgh the Sharks will return home to what is likely to be very enthusiastic support at Kings Park when they play the Stormers next weekend.


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