It’s about the game face

2011-05-04 00:00

THE Sharks, stung by their heavy weekend defeat at Newlands, are determined to get their Super Rugby season back on track by downing the Brumbies at King’s Park on Saturday night.

Burly Sharks flank Willem Alberts said yesterday the players had only themselves to blame for their 20-point loss to the Stormers.

“It was just one of those games, I guess. We didn’t take them on physically and that made it particularly hard for us. We then conceded three first-phase tries and those are giveaways.”

But, added Alberts, the Sharks know where they went wrong and have an opportunity this weekend to correct the mistakes against the Brumbies.

“We have to believe in each other and get our attitude right. We have to play to win and not just compete. It’s a small change in the team’s mindset, but that small change can lead to a big result.”

Alberts, consistently the Sharks’ most prominent, physically committed forward, said he is happy with his form, “but it was because the team had been performing”.

“If we perform well on Saturday, every­one will look better. The season has gone reasonably well because the team has done well. And that makes it easier for the individuals.

“But it is a tough competition and we have to keep up the physicality and improve the work-rate if we are to stay involved in the game.”

Alberts warned that the Brumbies would be difficult to beat.

“They are always a threat and they have nothing to lose against us. It’s going to be a very tough game.

“As we saw against the Stormers, if you’re five percent off, the game gets taken away. It is all about getting the right attitude on Saturday and for the rest of the season.”

Sharks coach John Plumtree agreed with Alberts and said the Sharks’ “attitude” is key.

“The Brumbies are a side we haven’t beaten in a while, and they’ll be hurting after their loss to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, so it is going to be a big game for both teams.

“It’s really important that we play well as a group and that we come out feeling good about ourselves. There will be a fair bit of pressure on us to get it right in front of our home crowd.”

The Sharks coach said the statistics of the Newlands loss were surprising.

“We know we just didn’t dominate on the gain-line at all, we couldn’t get our game going and we made too many errors on the gain-line.

“But we did have enough possession and defensively we had to make fewer tackles than them. It was a surprise to me watching the game that the Stormers had to make more tackles than us.”

The problem, added Plumtree, was that the Stormers did not have to work hard for their four tries. “That was really disappointing, the ease with which they scored against us.”

Plumtree said the Sharks had been in a similar position before, having to turn the season around after a bad loss.

“It hurts when we lose the way we did and the boys trained well this morning. We’ve had our unit meetings, we’ll train this afternoon and we’ve done a fair bit of planning for the Brumbies. You just have to box on and that’s what we will do.”

Plumtree said the Sharks have two injury concerns with John Smit (calf strain) out for the weekend, while flank Jacques Botes (ankle) would face a fitness test later in the week.

Saturday’s match kicks off at 7.10 pm and Mark Lawrence (SA) will be the referee.

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