Altitude challenge: Plumtree tweaks Sharks' game plan ahead of Leopards match

2010-08-13 00:00

THE Sharks’ tactical flexibility will be tested by the buoyant Leopards in their Currie Cup outing at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Phokeng tonight.

The Leopards are propping up the foot of the log, but a week ago they almost shocked the Blue Bulls, fighting back strongly with a rush of tries in the closing quarter before being edged out 43-38 at the Currie Cup champions’ home ground at Loftus.

The Sharks, running at all costs to emphatically beat the Lions at King’s Park a week ago, will temper their approach tonight, said head coach John Plumtree.

“We certainly don’t see the Leopards as being easy to beat. We have analysed what the Leopards can bring to the game and they are capable.”

The Leopards, said the Sharks coach, are fitter and better prepared than in previous years and they have showed staying power in almost pipping the Bulls last Friday.

“They scored five tries that night and showed that they know how to attack. Our defence needs to be top rate to frustrate them and to build attacking opportunities of our own.”

But Plumtree said playing at altitude is a challenge and the Sharks need to adapt, play a smarter game and be more conservative in their approach.

“Playing on the highveld has been tough for us, and the games against the Cheetahs and Griquas were a struggle when we went flat for periods. It’s important that we play the right game, one which suits us and not the Leopards.”

There will still be a high tempo to their game, but scrumhalf Rory Kockott, who has taken over from Charl Mcleod, and flyhalf Pat Lambie are expected to occasionally kick for position rather than opting to constantly run the ball out of defence, as the Sharks did against the Lions.

Indeed, the evening will provide a test of Lambie’s ability to vary his game tactically. He can run and pass, but Plumtree wants him to show he can also control the game with the boot.

The Leopards are waiting anxiously for a fitness report for lively scrumhalf Michael Bondesio and they are hoping to catch the Sharks napping tonight. But Plumtree is aware of the danger.

“If we are mentally off our game, if the attitude is not right and we don’t respect them, we can get hurt.”

TEAMS:

Sharks:

Louis Ludik, Odwa Ndungane, Stefan Terblanche (captain), Andries Strauss, Lwazi Mvovo, Patrick Lambie, Rory Kockott, Willem Alberts, Keegan Daniel, Jacques Botes, Alistair Hargreaves, Ross Skeate, Eugene van Staden, Craig Burden, Patric Cilliers.

Replacements: Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Steven Sykes, Michael Rhodes, Charl McLeod, Monty Dumond, Riaan Swanepoel

Leopards:

Danie Dames, Deon Scholtz, Jovan Bowles, Walter Venter, Dumisani Matyeshana, Neill Jacobs, Michael Bondesio, Riaan Swanepoel, Wilhelm Koch (captain), Christo van Niekerk, Ligtoring Landman, Brad Mockford, Os van der Walt, Pellow van der Westhuizen, BG Uys.

Replacements: Gavin Williamson, Aranos Coetzee, Draad Linde, RW Kember, Jean Tiedt, Clayton Durand, Jan van Zyl.

Referee: Jaco Peyper. Kick-off: 7.10 pm (SS1).

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