United Rugby Championship: Neil Powell wants brutal honesty when analysing Sharks’ loss to Stormers

Sharks director of rugby Neil Powell said there needs to be a brutally honest examination into his team’s defeat to the Stormers in their United Rugby Championship (URC) derby in Durban on Saturday.

The Sharks came off second best in most facets of play en route to a humiliating 46-19 defeat to the URC’s defending champions, who outscored their hosts by six tries to three.

Disappointed in Sharks performance

The home side came into the match in a confident mood after sealing a morale-boosting away win over Edinburgh in their previous fixture, and Powell admitted that it was disappointing that they could not build on that showing against the Stormers.

“Definitely not a good performance from us, probably a case of being caught up in last week’s match and didn’t pitch up for this one,” he told the Sharks‘ official website. “For me, a massive disappointment from a mental approach side, but a good lesson for us.

“If we were on the wrong side of the result but had a better performance and effort, we could accept that we got beaten by a better team on the day. But this just wasn’t good enough from us, and we will take this on the chin; no excuses, we have to get better and learn from our mistakes.”

Although the Sharks were competitive against the Stormers, a plethora of unforced errors proved costly, and the visitors capitalised on that.

“We knew they would punish our mistakes, they’re a team that does that, and that’s exactly what they did, capitalising on our mistakes,” said Powell.

“Looking at our mental prep coming into this game, I don’t know if we thought after the Edinburgh game that this would be easy, being at home, but we’re obviously very disappointed. As a coaching staff, we’ll look at ourselves first and then ask the questions of what we could have done better to prepare for this game.

“Just not a good enough performance from us and we will have to look at it and learn from it. We can’t get into a situation where we play so well and show such character and fight in one game, and the next there’s nothing of that which just undoes all the good we’ve done.

“We will definitely have a hard look at ourselves and make sure we don’t get ourselves into this position and situation again.”

Unexpected defeat

After several impressive results in the URC and Champions Cup since Powell took charge of the team after the departure of former head coach Sean Everitt, Saturday’s defeat and performance was totally unexpected.

“I thought this was the only game we were not up for after some consistency in the last few games,” added Powell. “This was the exception for me in terms of the effort and what we wanted to do in this game. Getting that consistency right every time is tough, but there are no excuses.

“If we want to be a champion team, we need to get ourselves up for every single game and make sure we’re mentally prepared for whatever the opposition brings.”

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