Cape Town — Sharks coach Robert du Preez has, surprisingly, praised his players following their 21-14 loss to the Reds in Durban on Friday.
After what was another abysmal performance following last weekend's 51-17 thrashing at the hands of the Jaguares - also at home - the Sharks have now slipped to five losses from nine in 2019.
With a three-match Australasian tour coming up next where fixtures against the Waratahs, Crusaders and Chiefs await, things will not get any easier for a Sharks side that is currently as poor as it has ever been.
The pressure on Du Preez has reached new heights, with many irate fans on social media calling for him to be removed as coach.
He had said in the build-up to the Reds game that he must be held accountable for any poor results yet addressing media after Friday's loss it seemed that Du Preez was nowhere near as irate as some of those Sharks fans.
"I thought the boys really put the effort in ... you can't fault them for effort today," said Du Preez.
"We created a lot of opportunities, and I think we just couldn't execute them.
"In those first 20 minutes we gave away two soft tries and I think that came back to bite us."
Du Preez said his side needed to show more patience with ball in hand, but he maintained that all was not lost.
"There is a positive feeling in the changeroom and it's a big step up from last week.
"We go on a three-week tour now and sometimes that can be really good for a team.
"When you lose four games at home it's obviously not great, for the fans and for all of us."