Super Rugby: Despite promising start, Sunwolves lose another season opener 45-10 to Sharks

Players from Hito-Communications Sunwolves and Cell C Sharks in action during their Super Rugby match at the National Stadium on Feb 16, 2019.
Players from Hito-Communications Sunwolves and Cell C Sharks in action during their Super Rugby match at the National Stadium on Feb 16, 2019.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Cell C Sharks’ Tyler Paul being pursued and tackled by players from Hito-Communications Sunwolves during their Super Rugby match at the National Stadium on Feb 16, 2019.
Cell C Sharks’ Tyler Paul being pursued and tackled by players from Hito-Communications Sunwolves during their Super Rugby match at the National Stadium on Feb 16, 2019.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Hito-Communications Sunwolves’ Shane Gates scoring a try against Cell C Sharks during their Super Rugby match at the National Stadium on Feb 16, 2019.
Hito-Communications Sunwolves’ Shane Gates scoring a try against Cell C Sharks during their Super Rugby match at the National Stadium on Feb 16, 2019.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Cell C Sharks’ Makazole Mapimpi scoring a try against Hito-Communications Sunwolves during their Super Rugby match at the National Stadium on Feb 16, 2019.
Cell C Sharks’ Makazole Mapimpi scoring a try against Hito-Communications Sunwolves during their Super Rugby match at the National Stadium on Feb 16, 2019.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - The Sunwolves continued their unwanted run of losing all their opening games in four Super Rugby seasons with their 45-10 loss to the Sharks on Saturday night (Feb 16) at the National Stadium.

Showing good teamwork and precise passing before a 4,967 crowd, the Japanese side started strong, scoring their first try and conversion by the eighth minute.

Butthe Sharks, with a size advantage, stepped up and pushed through the Sunwolves' defence, levelling the tie at 10-10 in the 16th minute.

The South African side went on to score another five tries and conversions to win 45-10.

Sunwolves coach Scott Hansen said: "As a coach, I'm really proud of the effort. The boys took care of each other even though they were out of steam.

"The challenge for us is to grow our game so we've got to operate at a high tempo. We didn't quite get it right and at times we put ourselves under pressure due to that."

When asked about the Sunwolves' weaker scrums, forward and captain Craig Millar said: "We were under pressure at times, for various reasons, so we need to learn how to handle those situations better.

"We were up against a very experienced front row and it's great learning from them and we'll work hard to get a few things right for our next match."

While there has been talk about the Sunwolves being kicked out of the competition due to their dismal results in the last three seasons, Hansen remains optimistic and is not putting any pressure on the players.

"The boys won't be under any pressure from me. I'm proud of them," he said.

"We're growing a game and we'll get better at it. We're looking out for each other and that's our focus.

"There was some outstanding defence we saw from the boys. We got the ball back a lot through our defence and we were allowed to attack from there. The boys physically managed to dominate the collisions and that's what we seek - to grow our defence around that so that it will be better for our tempo."

Despite the comfortable win, Sharks head coach Robert du Preez said the Sunwolves were "always a tough side to play against because you never know quite what to expect at times".

He added: "They really had us in trouble in the first 20 minutes, especially with their defensive line."

The Sunwolves face the New South Wales Waratahs in Tokyo on Feb 23 and return to the National Stadium on March 23 for the match against South Africa's Lions.

Sunwolves-Lions tickets on sale: www.sportshub.com.sg/SuperRugby