Sharks sitting pretty after historic Crusaders win

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014    Getty Images

It may well go down as a season-defining moment for the team. Their composure came under the spotlight, but their answer was an emphatic, overwhelming response. A brave one.

The Sharks have now earned nine points on tour from two wins and a losing bonus point. Already, they have accumulated more points than the combined total of the four other South African sides in 15 games on tour (the Lions have one more match left). The Lions have two points, the Stormers earned one, the Bulls took back four and the Cheetahs were unable to come home with any.

It was also a special day for front rowers Beast Mtawarira and Jannie du Plessis who were celebrating 100 Investec Super Rugby caps for the team.

“I’m really, really proud of the guys, especially Jannie and Beast for playing their 100th games for the Sharks,” said captain Bismarck du Plessis afterwards. “It’s pretty emotional for us, we’ve been here and come close but had never won here, so it’s a big thing for us.”

He admitted that despite the disadvantage of losing Jean Deysel early in the match, the players drew energy from each other. “The red card that early in the game brought the team members that much closer to each other. Everyone talked throughout the game and that made my job so much easier.”

Crusaders midfielder and captain Ryan Crotty cut a dejected figure after the game. His team were aiming for a sixth successive victory and to add a third top side’s scalp to their recent haul. They had defeated the Brumbies and Chiefs already and a victory over the Cell C Sharks would have taken them into the top two on the log.

As it stands, the Sharks enjoy a five point lead over the second-placed Brumbies, with the Crusaders eight points adrift in sixth place.

“Just feeling disappointed letting that one get away,” Crotty admitted after the match. “They did well to slow the game down and they played smart. We didn’t execute as well as we should have.”

So what went wrong for his team?

“Our execution and discipline let us down at times; we gave away silly penalties, especially when we got in front to let them back in. We suffered concentration lapses as well - we’d switch off for a moment and they’d strike. It’s very disappointing.”

The Sharks end their tour against the Blues this Friday before heading back home to take on the Stormers at King's Park next Saturday in the final match before the competition has a break to accommodate the June tests.