Defence vital for Sharks

2011-08-19 00:00

JOHN Plumtree says the Sharks’ focus will be on defence, but his assistant, backline coach Hugh Reece-Edwards, is looking for tries and a bonus point in this evening’s Currie Cup game against the Leopards in Durban.

Plumtree said the Leopards, who are propping up the foot of the log, have defensive limitations, but have shown their ability on attack and will be determined to run the ball hard and often at the Sharks.

The Leopards gave the log-leading Lions a bumpy ride at Ellis Park and were level at 36-36 with 10 minutes remaining before the home team drew away with two late tries to win 53-36. They have also beaten the Pumas, who came within a minute of beating the Sharks in Nelspruit.

“Defensively we’re going to have to be really up for it,” said the Sharks’ coach.

Reece-Edwards said the win at Newlands was “massive” after the defeat to Griquas the previous week, when the Sharks relaxed after a strong start.

“Obviously complacency is a fear when you face the bottom team [Leopards] at home, but the Griquas game will serve as a warning.

“We definitely became complacent in that match. We were all over Griquas in the first five minutes, but didn’t score and then took our foot off the gas. That’s a worry and we have to guard against that this week.”

Reece-Edwards said the lack of tries against Province last week is not a concern.

“We had to play a tactical game because of all the rain, but the conditions should be good against Leopards and we want five points out of the game. We need to pick up bonus points.”

Plumtree is hoping that a recall for Meyer Bosman and Marius Joubert in the midfield will provide the backline spark.

The former Bok centres have failed to realise their potential since arriving in Durban and both were omitted from the starting line at Newlands.

With Stefan Terblanche being rested and Pat Lambie with the Springboks the door has opened in the midfield again and Plumtree is hoping that this time the pair seize the moment.

“It’s up to them now and both have enough experience at the top level to know what the game’s all about,” Plumtree said. “They’ve just got to work out how to play off each other. That’s the key.

“It will take time for Marius to settle into a new place, while Meyer was dropped after the Griquas game and I’m looking forward to seeing how he reacts to that.”

Playing alongside the experienced French flyhalf Frederic Michalak, and with a steady flow of possession, this is an ideal opportunity for them to find their feet before the top-of-the-log clash against the Lions at Ellis Park next weekend.

The Sharks will go top of the log after the first round of the Currie Cup if they take five points from this game and the Lions are toppled by Western Province at Newlands tonight.

Plumtree is looking for a clinical display and, as he emphasised, that will depend on the Sharks having the right attitude on the night. With Springboks dribbling back into the squad, he has depth in most positions and this competition for places will help focus the players’ minds tonight.

TEAMS

Sharks:

15. Louis Ludik, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Marius Joubert, 12. Meyer Bosman, 11. Sibusiso Sithole, 10. Frederic Michalak, 9. Conrad Hoffmann, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Marcell Coetzee, 6. Jacques Botes (captain), 5. Ross Skeate, 4. Anton Bresler, 3. Wiehahn Herbst, 2. Craig Burden, 1. Dale Chadwick.

Replacements: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Eugene van Staden, 18. Alistair Hargreaves, 19. Keegan Daniel, 20. Charl McLeod, 21. Adrian Jacobs 22. Stefan Terblanche.

Leopards:

15 George Tossel, 14 Hoffman Maritz, 13 Jovan Bowles, 12 Joubert Engelbrecht, 11 Vainon Willis, 10 Wesley Dunlop, 9 Theo van Wyk, 8 Morné Hanekom, 7 Luvuyiso Lusaseni, 6 Victor Joubert, 5 Brad Mockford, 4 Brendan Snyman, 3 Stefan Bezuidenhout, 2 Jacques Moller, 1 Bennie Uys.

Replacements: 16 Marius Fourie, 17 Dewald Coetzee, 18 John-Roy Jenkins, 19 Christo van Niekerk, 20 Spanner Pretorius, 21 Johan Laker, 22 Hennie Skorbinski.

Referee: Lourens van der Merwe. Kick-off: 7.10 pm.

This weekend’s fixtures (home team first):

Tonight:

WP vs Lions 7.10 pm

Sharks vs Leopards 7.10 pm

Blue Bulls vs Griquas 7.10 pm

Tomorrow:

Free State vs Pumas 3 pm.

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