Prop Dale Chadwick believes there is a new sense of belief in the Sharks’ camp following their vital Currie Cup victory over the Blue Bulls in Pretoria at the weekend.
The Durban side were heading to a backs-to-the-wall situation had they lost at Loftus Versfeld and faced a real threat of failing to make the play-offs in defence of the title they won 11 months ago.
They are still not out of the woods, although victory against their Gauteng rivals has ended a three-match winless streak.
“We had two losses in a row against minor unions, but we feel that we’re on an upward curve now,” Chadwick said on Tuesday.
“There’s a new bit of confidence running through the team.
“I think that win was brilliant for us. There are a lot of youngsters who have never gone up to Loftus and won, so it’s great to be able to come home on a high now.”
The Sharks had lost to the Pumas and Griquas, while they were held to a draw by the Free State Cheetahs before the 26-15 weekend win.
The latest result means they leapfrogged the Pumas into third position with three rounds of the regular season remaining — with the first of those against the Eastern Province Kings in Durban on Saturday.
“Just in terms of building some confidence and to strengthen our position on the log, that result was really important,” Chadwick said.
“Obviously, for where we are sitting on the log, it was more important.
“But now we have to play really well once again if we want to get another win against the Kings.”
After this weekend’s games, Brad Macleod-Henderson’s men will still need to play the top two sides, the Golden Lions and Western Province, in the final two weeks.
Chadwick said the win meant there were “less things to work on as they improved”, but he warned that the Durbanites were still fixing other aspects of their game as they sought the further improvements.
He also cautioned against any complacency ahead of the match against the men from Port Elizabeth, who have yet to win a game after seven rounds this season.
“Even though the Kings haven’t won, there have been enough occasions in the past where we have come unstuck against a team near the bottom of the log.
“So these are the games we have to be wary of, because if you don’t pitch as a team, you can get hurt.”
Meanwhile, Chadwick’s fellow prop forward, rising star Thomas du Toit, has again been ruled out with a toe injury.
The Sharks also have big injury doubts over scrumhalf Conrad Hoffmann (buttocks), lock Stephan Lewies (knee) and flanker Jacques Botes (SC joint).