Cape Town – Penalty try or no penalty try, nobody can argue that the Sharks’ immense defensive efforts played a major role in their 18-13 win over the Stormers on Saturday.
According to Vodacom Rugby, the visitors made 164 tackles to the Stormers’ 101, and were on the back foot for much of the match.
The first half in particular saw the Stormers running hard and directly at the Sharks, but the defence in those 40 minutes conceded just one try and that ultimately kept the Durbanites in the game.
At the heart of that defensive effort was Springbok flank Marcell Coetzee – his 17 tackles the most by any player on the field.
Coetzee also enforced three turnovers by himself, and was a constant presence at the breakdown.
It was a performance that pleased Sharks coach Gary Gold, but his opposite number Robbie Fleck suggested after the match that Coetzee may have gotten away with some illegal infringements at ruck time.
“Overall I think our breakdown was good. We can look in review and see if those were penalties or not with Marcell … I think that will be a focal point from our point of view,” said Fleck.
“Overall I think we had good continuity and we just couldn’t get any territory in that second half.
“We felt that maybe once or twice it could have gone our way but that’s rugger and we need to deal with it.”
Gold, meanwhile, was full of praise for Coetzee.
“Marcell is immense. What I think he’s getting better at is his decision-making … he’s not chasing the ones where there is a risk,” said Gold.
“I stand to be corrected but I don’t think he got penalised today … he’s very accurate.”