Sharks coach praises youngsters

Date published: August 10 2014

Sharks coach Brad MacLeod-Henderson praised his side's youngsters after Saturday's 31-24 victory over Griquas in Kimberley.

Sharks coach Brad MacLeod-Henderson praised his side's youngsters after Saturday's 31-24 victory over Griquas in their Currie Cup opener in Kimberley.

The visitors enjoyed a comfortable lead of 18-3 at half-time after Griquas centre Jonathan Francke was shown a red card in the seventh minute for a dangerous tackle.

It left the Sharks with one man over on attack as well as defence but, in the end, they had to work hard to best a motivated home side.

“It was a scrappy game at times and we were put under pressure at some instances, but in the end we pulled it through,” MacLeod-Henderson said.

“Kimberley is always a difficult challenge and I am happy with the points we got against Griquas.”

The Sharks had a couple of débutantes in their line up, including scrum-half Cameron Wright, prop Thomas du Toit and veteran English prop Matt Stevens, who all contributed towards the victory along with stalwart centres Paul Jordaan and S'bura Sithole, flanker Jacques Botes and fly half Fred Zeilinga.

The latter contributed 21 points to the Sharks' total, scoring a try and kicking two conversions and four penalties.

“I am very happy with some of the younger players who really stepped up and performed well,” added MacLeod-Henderson.

“Everyone contributed on the day and we are now focusing on next week against the Pumas.”

Griquas coach Hawies Fourie said the red card put his side on the back foot, but lauded his players for never letting up.

The hosts came from 15 points down at half-time to within four points in the final minutes before a late penalty kick by Zeilinga sealed their fate.

“We had a huge setback with Jonathan being red-carded,” Fourie said.

“It put us on the back foot, especially in the first half. We had a talk at half-time and I told the players just to remain calm and we will get back in the game.

“It happened as predicted, but unfortunately we couldn't capitalise from the last kick off.”

The team from the City of Diamonds next travel to Bloemfontein to take on the Free State Cheetahs at home.

“The latter lost to the Pumas in Nelspruit on Saturday evening and will be out to rectify that result when they play host for their neighbours from the Northern Cape.

“We know that the Cheetahs game is going to be a tough ask. They played well against the Pumas even though they lost,” Fourie said.

“We will take this week and work on everything that needs attention and hopefully we can turn it around come next weekend.”