Like the fear eliciting Great White is the apex predator in the worlds oceans, the Sharks need to find their killer instinct if they are to own the waters from within the 'Shark Tank' and beyond. The Durban based side have shown they have the game plan and personnel to play a solid game, but it always seems that just as they get their noses ahead, they're not quite able to land the killer blow. This was as clear as day in their 22 all draw with the Stormers on Saturday.
Watching Mapimpi and Fassi in a foot race down the right touch line is easily comparable to the chase of a Cheetah on the open plains yet the two speedsters are coming up short. The Sharks boast a backline full of international finishers and bolstered with a powerful Australian 12. Grant Williams was sublime with ball in hand and cracked the Stormers defensive line on a number of occasions. Yet after leading 19 - 3 at one point, this lead was quickly squandered to, as one Springbok coach infamously called it "like kissing your cousin", so disheartening a draw can be.
Ox Nche rightfully claimed man of the match after him, Bongi Mbonambi and Thomas du Toit demolished a Stormers pack that only started to come right when Brok Harris was introduced from the bench. The forwards provided plenty of go forward ball for their backs to feed off, but they kept coming up short on the evening, with split seconds or mere millimeters keeping them from dotting down.
It was the Sharks poor discipline that allowed the Stormers back into the fight. The Durban side saw 4 yellow cards on the evening and were reduced to 12 players by the end of the game. Two of the cards lead to penalty tries after Kutu Mchunu collapsed a maul and Aphelele Fassi knocked the ball down on a 2 man overlap out wide. The 14 points gifted to the Stormers saw them to the draw and whilst the sides discipline clearly requires attention, even at 19 - 3 up they didn't really look like they were in control.
The hallmark of a championship side is their ability to finish off their opponents. The All Blacks are renowned for burying their opponents at the 60 minute mark. They raise the tempo of the game and manage to quash their opponents spirit on their way to victory. The Sharks need to develop this skill/instinct. When they have a lead like they did against the Stormers, they need to be clinical. Putting in a strong try and shoring up the defensive line when they have their noses ahead, all whilst maintaining their discipline will be key if they are to chase for the URC title this year.
A team like Leinster would never have blown such a lead and its a side like this that the Sharks will have to overcome if they are to make their mark on the newly formed tournament. With a number of Boks in their ranks you have to back them to challenge in the latter stages of the competition, so if you're looking for a South African Side to bet on, the odds should be on them.