- Edinburgh illustrated to the Sharks that dominance counts for nothing if you can’t score in their 21-5 win at Kings Park.
- The Scots essentially had just 43% possession and 35% territory yet managed to score almost every time their went into the hosts’ red zone.
- The Sharks were woefully inaccurate and impatient and are crying out for a flyhalf to take control after a Curwin Bosch nightmare.
Edinburgh gave the Sharks a timely reminder on the value of maximising opportunities with a laudable 21-5 victory in treacherous conditions at Kings Park on Saturday evening.
AS IT HAPPENED | Sharks v Edinburgh
Much like the Stormers’ triumph over Ulster earlier in the day – though that was also down to a debatable TMO decision – the team who didn’t “win” in terms of the stats were the overall victors.
The Durbanites enjoyed a surfeit of possession and, importantly in a rain-soaked affair, territory, but lacked the accuracy and patience to turn much of that dominance into something more tangible.
In fact, with the benefit of hindsight, this reverse suggests that the Sharks’ iffy form over the past few weeks might’ve become a bit of a slump.
Their one glaring weakness remains: a flyhalf to take control.
Curwin Bosch, despite talk of a minor resurgence in the past month, had a miserable outing.
While one wouldn’t want to blame him too much for missing all three of his kicks at goal – one was in front of the posts, however – his general play left much to be desired.
A supposed cross-kick in the first half on attack for wing Werner Kok was instead to his opposite number Freddie Owsley, a kick to touch shortly after the turnaround was sliced and kept in play and the penalty he conceded for straying in front of his half-back partner Grant Williams’ box-kick eventually led to Edinburgh’s third try.
No-one expects magic in a game like this, but basic solidity is a must.
Despite being excellent in the set-pieces, particularly the scrums, the Sharks were bereft of ideas and didn’t even get their go-to weapon, the maul, going.
Williams having possession snatched away from him from an attacking platform when he broke away too early was indicative of the hosts’ waywardness.
In contrast, Edinburgh were content to defend resolutely and wait for the opportunities to come around.
They showed their nose for the tryline from a turnover in the 20th minute, when skipper and outside centre Mark Bennett brilliantly exploited having Sharks hooker Bongi Mbonambi and prop Thomas du Toit as defenders to ghost through a gap.
Quick ball ensured flyhalf Blair Kinghorn could slice through a hesitant Ben Tapuai, who started at 13, to score.
It was a nice boost for the visitors, who initially had laboured to make use of a yellow card for Sharks inside centre Marius Louw for a tackle in the air.
The Scots delivered another superb sucker punch in the 56th minute when No 8 Ben Muncaster glided through a disorganised defence from an ineffectual kick and freed up Argentinian international and fullback Emiliano Boffelli to dot down.
And, just to rub salt in the wounds, Kinghorn completed a brace from, you guessed it, botched Sharks passing under pressure.
Du Toit managed to wriggle his way over from close range to score the hosts’ only points on the 50-minute mark yet even that came after Ox Nche dropped an earlier off-load with the tryline at his mercy.