Settled Sharks give coach hope

2012-05-10 00:00

IT was a season first for coach John Plumtree last night when he named an unchanged squad of 22 for Saturday evening’s Super Rugby outing against the Western Force at King’s Park.

Plumtree is hoping that familiarity will breed consistency and that this settled Sharks squad will break this season’s trend of following victory with a disappointing defeat.

“This is the first time in a very long time that I have been able to do this,” he said with even the replacement bench featuring the same seven players, five forwards and two backs.

“The combinations will get better with this continuity,” he said.

There had been speculation that he would recall the powerful Willem Alberts, adding some physicality to the back row, but he is clearly concerned about the threat posed by Wallabies David Pocock and Richard Brown and he is looking to loose forwards Jacques Botes and Keegan Daniel to match them in the fetching role.

Plumtree is also hoping for some consistency from South African referee Mark Lawrence in his blowing of the breakdown.

The last Lawrence to referee Pocock against a South African team was New Zealander Bryce, and he gave the Wallaby flank a free ride in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final against the Springboks last year.

“Mark [in contrast to Bryce] refs pretty much to the letter of the law. He’s very tough at the breakdown, probably one of toughest referees in the competition. I don’t mind how the referees blow the breakdown, as long as they’re consistent.

“What I’ve seen is different refs blowing differently. The Kiwi refs blow differently to the Australian and South Africans. I thought that last Saturday Steve Walsh would be tough on the Highlanders because they commit numbers to the breakdown [and slow down the ball].

“The Highlanders are a difficult side to play against and I hope this week we’ll get to play a bit.”

Plumtree said that the Sharks would be up against two good fetchers in Pocock and Brown.

“We need to be really accurate at the breakdown or else we won’t get any continuity. Instead we’ll get a lot of slow ball as we did against the Highlanders and we’ll have to kick more.

“If we get forward momentum across the gainline, then it does negate the fetchers a bit and make them less of a factor,” he added.

Western Force backline coach Andrew Scotney said yesterday that they were not expecting to make many changes to the team narrowly beaten 17-13 by the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last weekend.

“We want continuity in selection that will result in the same game plan,” he said.

The match kicks off at 5.05 pm on Saturday.

SHARKS TEAM

15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (c), 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis / Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst / Jannie du Plessis, 18 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Ryan Kankowski, 21 Frederic Michalak, 22 Meyer Bosman.

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