SHARKS rugby director Gary Gold remains upbeat, preferring to see a silver lining rather than storm clouds after his team’s 29-13 loss to the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday.
The Sharks started well but fell away in the second half as the home team turned the screw, outscoring the visitors 16-3 in that period.
It was the Sharks’ third loss of the season in four starts. Already they are in a hole that is rapidly deepening.
The genesis of their defeat was a faltering scrum that conceded three tightheads in the first half. They missed tighthead Jannie du Plessis, who was rested as part of an agreement with the SA Rugby Union.
“We’ll fix this by not stabbing each other in the back,” Gold said. “We’ve lost three games. We’ll stick together and be honest about what we’re getting wrong and then make some tweaks, realising that there’s a huge expectation.
“After the game we spoke about the horrible bus crash that killed some players from the Franschhoek Rugby Club [on Saturday] and that put this defeat in perspective. It’s a game of rugby. Our condolences go out to the club and their families.”
The Sharks failed to convert their early pressure into points when the Stormers were down to 14 men, with Nic Groom binned for collapsing a maul.
Gold gambled by selecting Frans Steyn, JP Pietersen and Willem Alberts for the match after the first two had returned from Japan and Alberts from a long injury layoff.
None of the three played poorly, with Steyn particularly prominent in his manhandling of Stormers fullback Cheslin Kolbe with three clattering hits that straddled the legality line.
Gold defended Steyn’s tackles on Kolbe that eventually earned the centre a yellow card from referee Jaco Peyper eight minutes from time.
“It was a difficult night for us, certainly not the start we wanted in the competition, but we have to carry on the fight. It’s a long competition and we’ve got some work to do, no doubt.”