Sharks’ confidence gets a boost at vital stage of Currie Cup

2013-09-26 00:00

THE Sharks took a lot of confidence out of their Absa Currie Cup win over Free State at King’s Park on Saturday, with a great deal of satisfaction for the forwards.

One such pleased customer is hooker Kyle Cooper, who pays tribute to his team-mates for their wonderful, combined effort to produce a platform worthy of such a win.

“The tight five went well, Wiehahn Herbst controlled the scrums and it was good to have Dale Chadwick back,” he admits. “We also won all our ball in the lineouts and in the scrums we did well. The tight five have a lot of confidence behind them after that game.

“But we’ve had to move on to the next challenge and we put that big performance behind us as soon as we started preparing for the Lions,” he said. “There is still a lot we can improve on.”

The Sharks have lost Pieter-Steph du Toit to the Springboks and welcome one from the Under 21s, Stefan Lewies. “Pieter-Steph is a unit all by himself. He took his lineout opportunity really well and he took 100% of his ball,” said Cooper.

“The Lions have two decent hookers that throw well and Franco van der Merwe runs the show well. We will have to do a lot of work this week if we hope to try and contest, but we will focus on what we are good at and we have to concentrate on getting the new youngster [Lewies] up to speed. The Currie Cup gives youngsters chances, that is what it is about.”

Cooper admits that he was happy with his own game. “It’s nice when the ball bounces your way and you get put into space, but I also have plenty of areas to improve on.”

Talking improvement, the Sharks’ scrumming, which had been a feature of concern, delivered a stable, dominant, even platform, which allowed the backs in for six of the team’s seven tries in their 50-pointer on Saturday.

Cooper explained that continuity helps. “Wiehahn, Dale and I have come through the age groups together. We played together at U19, U21 and Vodacom Cup level, so we know each other well and it is great scrumming with them on either side of me.”

But this trio know there is another big contest against the Lions at scrum-time in their match at Ellis Park this weekend.

“The last time we played them they gave us a hard time in the scrum, but we have got to know the new laws much better since then and it should go much more smoothly.”

Cooper paid tribute to the rotation policy, which might have been difficult initially, but has delivered the results and offers added benefits, such as hunger and energy. “It was a bit hard to get used to at first, players coming in and out all the time. But we have all bought into and have seen its benefits.”

Meanwhile, Sharks coaches Brad Macleod-Henderson (forwards) and Sean Everitt (backs) are under no illusions that tomorrow night’s visit to Ellis Park won’t be a stroll in the park.

“The Lions are dangerous and scored some quick tries against us in Durban,” said Everitt. “They play exciting rugby and give the ball plenty of air. We will have to look sharp defensively and play the full 80 minutes to keep them out,” said Everitt.

Sharks: 15. SP Marais, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Tim Whitehead, 12. Heimar Williams, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Fred Zeilinga, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Keegan Daniel (C), 7. Tera Mtembu, 6. Justin Downey, 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Peet Marais, 3. Wiehahn Herbst, 2. Kyle Cooper, 1. Dale Chadwick.

Replacements: 16. Monde Hadebe, 17. Danie Mienie, 18. Edwin Hewitt, 19. Brynard Stander, 20. Cobus Reinach, 21. Butch James, 22. Jaco van Tonder.

Lions: 15. Marnitz Boshoff, 14. Andries Coetzee, 13. Deon Helberg, 12. Dylan Des Fountain, 11. Anthony Volmink, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Ross Cronje, 8. Warren Whiteley, 7. Derick Minnie (c), 6. Jaco Kriel, 5. Franco van der Merwe, 4. Chris Van Zyl, 3. Ruan Dreyer, 2. Robbie Coetzee, 1. CJ van der Linde.

Replacements: 16. Willie Wepener, 17. Jacques van Rooyen, 18. Willie Britz, 19. Warwick Tecklenberg, 20. Guy Cronje, 21. Grant Janke, 22. Ruhan Nel.

Referee: Jason Jaftha

Kick Off: 7.10 pm.

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