PRETORIA, March 10 (Reuters) – The Sharks came into the Super Rugby season in bullish mood, hopeful of leading the South African sides in the competition, but back-to-back defeats have exposed a lack of physicality and left them needing to take stock, coach Robert du Preez has said.
The Durban-based outfit was brushed aside 37-14 by the Bulls on Saturday, the defeat coming a week after a surprise home loss to the Stormers.
Du Preez concedes his side had no answer to the physical threat of the Bulls forwards.
“It was another clinical performance by the Bulls, they dismantled us, especially in that first 20 minutes, we just couldn’t get going,” Du Preez told reporters.
“Coming up here (to Pretoria) in a typical derby, it is always going to be tough. It’s like test-match rugby.
“When you don’t get traction up front, you are always going to be playing catch-up rugby.”
Du Preez refused to blame the Sharks game-plan, instead suggesting their lack of physicality and poor execution was to blame for their latest defeat.
“Handling errors, too many turnovers, there were something like 15, that just contributed to not having position, or having it in the wrong part of the field,” he said.
“I think the plan was solid, the last two weeks we had very good training weeks, but when you come up against a side like the Bulls that is really clinical in their execution and you cannot get going, it is always going to be difficult.
“It is a physical battle, the derbies are unbelievably physical, and the team that is the most aggressive is going to come out on top.
“We have been beaten up for two weeks in a row now.”
The Sharks have a bye next week, which gives them the chance to rest and assess the way forward ahead of a home clash with the Melbourne Rebels on March 23.
“We need to get back and take stock of where we are at, so the break is good. But it’s healthy for South African rugby that there is such good competition between the teams,” he said.
The Sharks opened their season with victories over the Sunwolves in Singapore and at home to the Auckland Blues.
Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Peter Rutherford