No room for mistakes

2014-10-03 00:00

IF the Sharks wish to beat the Lions tonight, they will need to focus on using their new-found attacking prowess and be watertight on defence.

The Durban outfit came right last week with an impressive display of running rugby even when their scrum was under pressure. Scoring six tries, even against the bottom-of-the-log Kings, is a good result.

The Sharks’ lineout was once again superb, giving them a platform that saw them score from both a maul and subsequent phases in other instances. Lock Marco Wentzel has been immense here and the return of Stephan Lewies beside him will make them even more formidable tonight.

The Sharks scrum was under pressure last week — the absence of Thomas du Toit at prop becoming glaringly obvious. He is back this week in place of Dale Chadwick and he will be tasked with taking on a Lions pack that has scrummed well all season.

The Lions have improved their defensive structures this season and have proved a tough nut to crack, due largely to their powerful pack that has put pressure on teams in the tight phases.

Perhaps the biggest battle will be between the loose forwards. The Lions have stayed with their trio of Willie Britz, Warwick Tecklenburg and Jaco Kriel from last weekend but have stalwart Derick Minnie as well as youngster Kwagga Smith on the bench.

The Sharks have their full strength trio of captain Tera Mtembu, Etienne Oosthuizen and Jacques Botes to combat the Lions in what will be a crucial area.

The Sharks will have to look after their ball on attack as the Lions are quick to affect turnovers whenever possible. Kriel, Minnie and Smith are particularly good on the ground and the Sharks will have to be sharp at the breakdown point.

Sharks flyhalf Lionel Cronje has thrown a spanner in the works with his aptitude for running rugby. Rather than sit in the pocket, Cronje tests defences by running at the gainline and has unleashed the Sharks outside backs which showed last weekend.

The battle out wide will be an interesting one. The Sharks have a powerful midfield with young Andre Esterhuizen at inside centre providing the brawn while Paul Jordaan’s pace and brains at outside centre has been complimentary. Lwazi Mvovo is back again from the Boks and has been dangerous in the last two matches for the Sharks.

The Lions are equally potent out wide as fullback Andries Coetzee and wings Ruan Combrinck and Courtnall Skosan have plenty of x-factor and speed. The return of flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff will help here, although he will have to try and contain Cronje and find form after finally recovering from a broken arm. He made his first appearance off the Lion’s bench last week.

Defensively, the Sharks will have to be alert. Both Cronje and Esterhuizen shot out of the line last week and both instances led to the Kings scoring tries. The Lions are accurate and will make no mistake in taking those chances.

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