The final-round clash between the Stormers and the Sharks was an awful game of rugby.
The Sharks edged the Stormers 12-9 win at Newlands, which booked the Durbanites a quarterfinal against the Brumbies in Canberra next weekend.
The game had a thrilling ending with Lukhanyo Am scoring the winner at the end, but the rest of the match was just painful to watch.
Both teams were awful with ball in hand and seemed to lack knowledge of how to unlock the opposition’s defence.
It’s an area of the game the Stormers’ have struggled with all season scoring a competition-low 34 tries. It is a record they share with the Sunwolves .
The Sharks are not much better with their total of 40 tries, which puts them second last in the try-scoring tally.
The Sharks scored two tries on Saturday, but one was from a Stormers’ mistake and the other came after regulation time.
The game was littered with errors and there was a period in the second half when both teams were intent on kicking the ball away and trying to live off their opponent’s mistakes.
It was as if both teams entered the game without a proper game plan, which is worrying as there was a lot riding on the outcome.
The Stormers were in a better position heading into the final five minutes at 6-5 up. They were camped inside the Sharks’ half with a penalty awarded to them and they decided to go for poles for a four-point lead.
When asked at the post-match press conference about the decision to go for poles and not run down the clock with a line-out near the Sharks’ tryline, Stormers coach Robbie Fleck was pretty irritated.
“Jeez, you are not going to criticise us for going for poles?” said Fleck. “We were going for the win.
“You can talk about that [going for poles] all year. We are nine points to five up and there are two minutes to play, so we did well to get out of our half, we chased well and then great credit to the Sharks for hanging onto the ball.
“It is a great passage of play for them to win the game. Credit to them, but we did everything possible to win the game.
“We were leading that whole time in that second half and I guess the killer blow probably was their first try in the first half when we dominated.
“It was a great decision by Kitshoff to go 9-5 up, but credit to the Sharks for getting the win at the end of the day.”
He added: Sport can be cruel and I guess it has been part of our season where we deserved to win some games and we didn’t. We did all the hard work considering the injury situation we had going into this game and considering the injuries that happened in the game, which didn’t help – it’s very tough to take.
“It’s a very hard loss for us. We have done all the hard work to win that game, so we believed that we were going on that flight tomorrow [Sunday], but it isn’t to be.”
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