The Sunwolves found out again Saturday that you cannot win a Super Rugby game if you do not make your tackles and turn pressure into points as they went down 50-22 to the Sharks at Kings Park in Durban, South Africa.
More injuries did not help their cause, but the difference in intensity between the Top League and Super Rugby -- in attack and defense -- saw the Sunwolves cruelly exposed.
The Sunwolves had 56 percent of possession and carried the ball 489 meters compared with the Sharks' 493, but they lacked the killer extinct of the South African side and left a number of points on the field.
They were also far too generous when the hosts had the ball, with the defense stats showing Jamie Joseph's side had a tackle success rate of 80.9 percent compared with 86.4 percent for the Sharks, who recorded their first win of the season.
"We ran out of shape and lost a lot of ball unnecessarily," said Sunwolves captain Willie Britz. "We got held up a lot and didn't get over the gain line. So credit the Sharks for stopping our momentum."
Makazole Mapimpi showed the visitors how to finish, bagging a brace of five-pointers and there were further Sharks tries for Armand van der Merwe, Lubabalo Mtembu, Jacques Vermeulen, Sibusiso Nkosi and Cameron Wright.
Robert du Preez kicked five conversions and a penalty goal for the Sharks and Curwin Bosch kicked the final conversion to raise the half-century, after the hosts had led 24-3 at the break.
Lomano Lava Lemeki, Wimpie van der Walt and William Tupou crossed the chalk for the Sunwolves, with Harumichi Tatekawa kicking a penalty and Kotaro Matsushima and Ryoto Nakamura adding a conversion apiece.
Michael Little had a good game on debut, making a team high 94 meters with ball in hand. The son of former All Black Walter Little also made nine tackles, missed just one and won two turnovers.
But like his teammates, the 24-year-old, who plies his trade in the second tier Top Challenge League with Mitsubishi Dynaboars, at times seemed a little flustered by the pace of the game.
Five of the Sunwolves missed more tackles than they made and things do not get any easier for Joseph and his team next week as they head to Johannesburg to play the Lions -- Super Rugby finalists in the last two years.