It remains a mystery where the Sharks’ skills and self-confidence have disappeared.
The Sharks dominated their match in the United Rugby Championship against Ireland’s Connacht at Kingspark on Saturday, but they were beaten 13-12.
The Sharks dominated possession and territory advantage. They had an excess of possession, but poor decision-making, butter fingers, poor line work and a lack of game discipline cost them dearly.
Then the flyhalf Curwin Bosch and his substitute Boeta Chamberlain missed two easy kicks to the posts at critical stages.
What is worrying is that the Sharks had seven Springboks, a Blitzbok and a Scottish international player in the starting team.
The Sharks want to bring renewal this season under coach John Plumtree, they want to score tries and attract the spectators back to Kingspark, but unless they drastically shake off the specter of losing, the sealless nightmare season will continue.
Connacht, despite their good start to this season’s series, are no heavyweights.
The team is widely regarded as the fourth worst Irish team in the series, but the way in which they put the Sharks on their ears in the battle for the free-ball, their rock-solid defence, fighting spirit and tactical kicking by the link pair, the seasoned fly-half JJ Hanrahan and scrum-half Colm Reilly cast doubt on the Sharks’ plans.
Then Bosch did not convince for the umpteenth time as a flyhalf. He tried to break the advantage line countless times, but was stuck again and again.
Full back Aphelele Fassi was also too predictable at times as he wanted to get over the advantage line almost every time.
Up front there were bright spots with the flustered hooker Dylan Richardson who continued to fight. Ex-Bok tighthead prop Coenie Oosthuizen’s power runs were pure gold and Phepsi Buthelezi and Sikhumbuzo Notshe did well at times.
Fingers crossed that the Sharks’ World Cup Springboks such as Eben Etzebeth and Makazole Mapimpi return soon to provide the necessary spark.
Maybe they can restore the Sharks’ self-confidence, because if the team continues to play like they did against Connacht, Kingspark will be even weaker.
Scorers: Connacht 13 (10): Tries: Sean O’Brien. Goal kicks: JJ Hanrahan. Penalty goals: Hanrahan.
Sharks 12 (5): Tries: Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Werner Kok. Goal kick: Curwin Bosch.