Muir & Sharks elated with win over Cheetahs


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Dick Muir was smiling at the post match media conference after his side had beaten the Cheetahs on Saturday albeit thanks to two late tries by Odwa Ndungane.

Just minutes from time the fourth try and and therefore the bonus point looked out of sight for the Sharks and it looked like their 2008 campaign would end abruptly in disappointment.

What many forgot with all the talk about bonus points was that the Sharks were aiming for a second season in a row where they have beaten every South African team in the round robin stages and victory over the Cheetahs gave them just that.

‘Everyone is elated,’ admitted the relieved Sharks coach on the Sharks web site.

‘But the important thing to understand is that we have a huge challenge on Saturday. The Chiefs are riddled with superstars, they have game-breakers and it’s going to be a helluva game.’

A Semi-final is not assured for the Sharks even if they do beat the Chiefs by bonus point such is the tightness of the competition.

‘This week was a knockout for us and the approach next week will be no different. We treated the Crusaders match as a knockout, so we knew this last phase of the tournament would be down to wire.

“The Crusaders result was the difference between a home and away semi. Now it’s about survival.’

Muir also says that the character of the side really came to the fore in the final moments of the game and that gave him plenty of satisfaction. ‘What was special for me was that last try, the guys showed spirit and commitment as a team,’ he said.

‘They tried to score as many as they could, in the last 10 minutes they upped the intensity, and perhaps if we’d gone in more positive at the beginning of the season instead of being more careful things might have been different.’

Of the top nine teams the Sharks have the least bonus points which although they have been winning has cost them table points. Muir says that the conditions in the earlier part of the season and the rain that followed the team overseas forced the Sharks into a conservative game plan got the results.

Unfortunately it did not get the bonus points, but then again, the Cheetahs have played exciting rugby all season, have the most bonus points in the competition ‘ 9 ‘ but have won only one match.

‘We over-concentrated our efforts on a wet slippery ball in the earlier stages in Durban,’ Muir explained.

‘Perhaps if we had taken more risks and looked for the Bonus Points that might have been a better approach, but we knew we had to build as the season goes.

‘One thing we have to understand is that with the lack of experience we have, there was always going to be inconsistency, we’ve had to take it game by game. But a lot of players would have grown in stature from this result.

‘It’s a clich’ to talk about a young group, but they proved today there is a lot to come, exciting things because we have such a good group of players.’

Muir confirmed that captain Johann Muller will be back for the Chiefs game. He concluded saying, ‘This competition is unbelievable, it will certainly go down to the wire.’

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