Sunwolves lose, but new Super Rugby franchise improving all the time
Bulls hand Japanese outfit fourth loss but signs are Hammett's side are not far off
He shoved Francois Brummer in the chest, yanked the ball and threw it back in play. There was little time left, and the Hito-Com Sunwolves were trailing by 10 points, but that did not matter to Ed Quirk and the rest of his team.
They were staring at an unassailable lead, but the Sunwolves just would not go quietly into the night.
In a show of grit against a physically dominant Vodacom Bulls side, the rookie Japanese side bared their teeth for one more try before time ran out, only going down 30-27 at the National Stadium last night.
They are a new Super Rugby franchise - just four games old - but Mark Hammett's Sunwolves have shown signs of improvement after each encounter, and it looks like just a matter of time before they register their first ever Super Rugby win.
Hammett's side only had 33 per cent of possession against South Africa's Bulls and were dominated in the scrum and at set-pieces, but still managed three tries.
The Kiwi is sure his men will get better.
"Each week when we've had to address areas, we've put it together the next week. I don't think you'd ever get the perfect game, but you can certainly get the perfect attitude," said Hammett, paying tribute to the spirit his charges brought out onto the pitch.
The Sunwolves first fell to the Lions in their season opener and then failed to hang on to an 18-point first half lead to lose 32-31 to the Cheetahs. They were outplayed 39-5 by the Rebels last week.
But Hammett said: "If you'd asked me earlier about what we would achieve after four games, I'd say maybe we won't be this far ahead.
"I want to give them a pat on the back, but as a coach you're always pushing for more."
The Sunwolves were applauded off the pitch by the 7,971 fans at the stadium last night, and they even won plaudits from their opposition.
"People are going to underestimate them. I think they're going to get better and better. I'm glad that we played them now," said Bulls' coach Nollis Marais.
"They are an excellent side with a very clever coach."
They may be improving, and winning over those who have watched them play, but four straight losses still hurt.
"We do regret the four losses, it is disappointing," said Sunwolves captain Shota Horie.
"But we can only look forward to the next games, and learn lessons from each game that we play."
The Sunwolves have a three -week South Africa road trip ahead of them, with games against the Kings (April 2), Stormers (April 8) and the Cheetahs (April 15), before hosting fellow rookies from Argentina, the Jaguares, in Tokyo on April 22.
Fans in Singapore will have to wait nine weeks before the Sunwolves return to grace the National Stadium, when the Stormers come on May 14 in the final Super Rugby match that Singapore will host this season.
And Hammett will keep focusing on the positives as he looks to drive his team forward.
"I've said before that I'm not going to focus back on things (that have already happened), we can't control those things. We want to focus on things we can control," said Hammett
"I'm really, really happy (with the team's progress), hopefully when we develop cohesion among the team, and they start to know what each other is going to do, hopefully that lifts our game, too."