Muir puzzled by underachieving Sharks


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Dick Muir has not figured out why the Sharks underachieved in the Super 14 semi-final against the Waratahs. But what he does know is that the Australians played outstanding rugby on Saturday.

“Rugby is about momentum and we never had any,” the Sharks coach is quoted as saying after his team’s 28-13 defeat in Beeld.

“The Waratahs’ defence and ball control were brilliant. They also kicked well, tactically.

“It is terribly disappointing for us to have come so far and being unable to play our game. We had some moments towards the end when we showed what our team was all about. They showed a lot of character,” Muir said.

Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie had reason to smile as his team had eclipsed the most ambitious expectations of his employers.

However, if his bosses have it their way, McKenzie will no longer have a job on Monday morning even though he has surpassed his contract goals.

“I am delighted,” McKenzie said. “Except for the fact that we tried to push through some passes, I feel it was a rather smart performance.

“There are some characteristics one needs to win. You have to be aggressive and you have to be able to score tries. We scored four.”

The Sharks’ forwards were outplayed by a pack that was prepared to take on the South Africans in the line out. The Waratahs dominated in the line out with many suspecting that South African born Daniel Vickerman had worked out the Sharks calls.

Muir said that it was hard for the players to hear the line out calls such was the noise in the stadium but Muir conceded that the Australians had done their homework.

“I thought we should have speeded up our line out. I don’t know to what extent the flight to Sydney affected them but the players were never on the front foot.”

The Sharks brought in Tongan Epi Taione for Springbok AJ Venter who had to be withdrawn shortly before the match because of a hand injury.

“We did not know how much that would disrupt the team. But in the end, the Waratahs were simply so much better than we were.”

Epi Taione replaced Venter and things went badly wrong for the Tongan.

“I thought Epi would get us across the advantage line,” Muir said.

“He was a little rusty after being out of rugby for six weeks. It did not work for us but one must admit he tried to the end.

“When Jean Deysel came on he carried the ball better than Epi had done.”

The Waratahs could have won by a much larger margin had Kurtley Beale found his kicking boots. In the end his kicking woes did not impact on the result.

“The knockout came just after halftime when they scored two tries,” Muir said.

“We felt that even though we trailed 15-6 at the break, things could have been worse.

“We could have fought back if we scored first in the second half. Even when we trailed by twelve points with ten minutes to go there may have been a chance.”

Muir feels the result of the Super 14 final to be played in Christchurch on Saturday may not be such a foregone conclusion as some people think.

“Any team that control the ball well against the Crusaders have a chance. The Waratahs also defend well. The two best teams in the competition are in the final.”

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