Super Rugby Review: Sharks

Date published: July 26 2016

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With the Super Rugby semi-finalists decided, we take a look at the teams that missed out. Next up, the Sharks.

The Sharks season came to an abrupt end following a 41-0 lambasting at the hands of the Hurricanes in atrocious conditions in Wellington on Saturday. The visitors needed the little things to go their way to perhaps cause an upset, but it was not to be.

The same can be said of their season, which was plagued by injuries to key players, leaving them without class and experience when it came to the business end of the competition.

Springboks Patrick Lambie, Marcell Coetzee, Willie le Roux and Cobus Reinach would all suffer untimely serious injuries during the campaign, forcing some out for the season.

Lambie's injury saw the Sharks spend most of the opening part of the season without their superstar fly-half. While Joe Pietersen proved a solid replacement, the real diamond in the rough was Garth April, who was playing club rugby just last year.

The loss of Coetzee would also set the franchise back in the loose forward department, as the talismanic captain was arguably in the form of his life, affecting multiple turns a game and leading the charge on defence.

Leadership issues also plagued the franchise early on, with there being some confusion over Gary Gold's role. This lead to the formation of a coaching panel perhaps lacking the experience needed for a team that has four runners-up finishes.

Nonetheless, the season saw them improve from a fairly disastrous 2015 campaign, where they finished 11th in the standings.

Their year was punctuated with a hard-fought one point win over the Highlanders in Dunedin in Round Nine and deserved 17-point win over the Hurricanes at home in Round 11.

While the Sharks can pride themselves on defence and attacking the breakdown, earning the most amount of turnovers of any team, their attack and kicking game often looked one dimensional or wayward.

Best Player: While Coetzee enjoyed a superlative start to the campaign, his injury forces him out of contention. Ironically, it was another injury, this time involving Lambie, that lead to the unearthing of Garth April. The 25-year-old was thrust into the limelight and impressed with his steady boot, distribution skills and attacking prowess in a very short space of time, earning him a call up to the South Africa 'A' side in June. The Sharks will do well to hang on to this talent.

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