Dickie’s boys turn the corner

Sharks coach Dick Muir believes his side now has the perfect blend of youth and experience.

The Natalians beat the Highlanders 26-11 in Dunedin for their first overseas victory of the season – one that has given them a massive confidence boost for the rest of the Vodacom Super 14.

“John Smit, Johan Ackermann and AJ Venter played out of their skins. When you have guys like that leading from the front, the youngsters will follow,” Muir told Mercury rugby writer Mike Greenaway.

“And at the back, Tony Brown was immense. Besides his faultless tactics – how good were those up-and-unders – he brought a calmness to the backline play that allowed youngsters like JP Pietersen and Odwa Ndungane to flourish. I have always said that JP is one of those unique players that comes around only every so often. I have always had a lot of faith in him.

Muir said the victory could be a turning point in the Sharks season.

“We have been building towards this win for some time, but talking about winning can only be so effective – you have to actually do it before you can enjoy the benefits of it.

“If you look at our game against the Highlanders, when our players realised that the victory was theirs, they suddenly looked a different team. We grew in stature, confidence and authority.”

The Sharks face the Hurricanes on Friday who like the Highlanders last weekend have just returned from a three-week trip to South Africa. The Sharks took advantage of a jaded Highlanders side, scoring two tries in the last quarter, and are hoping for a similar performance in Wellington.

After suffering defeats to the Crusaders, Waratahs and Brumbies, the Sharks could return home with two victories from their five tour matches.