Sharks eager to impress after dismal showings

2011-09-10 00:00

THE Sharks are determined to impress their home supporters and referee Jaco Peyper when they take on the Pumas in their Currie Cup match at King’s Park this afternoon.

The Sharks are lagging six points behind the log-leading Lions and anything less than a bonus point win today will be regarded as another home failure for Plumtree’s squad.

The Pumas, stuck at the bottom of the log with the Leopards, do not travel well and the Sharks have an excellent opportunity to add some polish and cohesion to their attacking game before they face the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein next weekend in what could prove their most testing game in the second round.

The Sharks found Peyper difficult to please last time they met and he penalised them heavily at the breakdown and the scrum at Ellis Park, allowing Elton Jantjies to boot the Lions to their important home win.

The Sharks’ lack of discipline has not only cost them points this season but has broken their continuity and momentum while frustrating their coach.

Their other problem has been one of attitude. They have lifted themselves to beat the big boys — the Blue Bulls (twice), Western Province and Free State — but were ragged in losing to Griquas and struggled to beat the Pumas in Nelspruit and then the Leopards in Durban.

The limp showing against the Leopards, their last outing in Durban, saw them dominant in every area, but they could only score three second-half tries in their disappointing 23-3 win.

The Pumas will come to Durban with some hope. They bothered the Lions for long periods last weekend while they enjoyed themselves against the Sharks in Nelspruit before just losing 23-22 in the final moments.

Plumtree, still looking for the complete performance, is not taking them lightly.

“The Pumas have been impressive in many ways this season. They probably should have beaten us in the first round and they were only seven points behind the Lions with time up on the clock last Friday. We have a lot of respect for them and we have to arrive with the right attitude.”

The Sharks, with two tall jumpers in Alistair Hargreaves and Ross Skeate, should hold an edge in the lineouts but the scrum could suffer. Still, the Sharks have quality players spread through the ranks and they should overcome a willing Pumas outfit.

Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse has welcomed back flank and captain Corné Steenkamp, prop Dawie Steyn and scrumhalf Shaun Venter from injury, but has emphasised the need for his team to limit their mistakes.

Plumtree, in turn, is hoping that the Loftus win of last week will spark his players’ attacking game. And, after the limp showing against the Leopards, and with the distraction of the other tournament in New Zealand, he is hoping that there will be someone at King’s Park this afternoon to watch them.

TEAMS

Sharks: 15. Louis Ludik, 14. Sibusiso Sithole, 13. Stefan Terblanche, 12. Meyer Bosman, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Frederic Michalak, 9. Conrad Hoffmann, 8. Keegan Daniel (Captain), 7. Marcell Coetzee, 6. Jean Deysel, 5. Ross Skeate, 4. Alistair Hargreaves, 3. Wiehahn Herbst, 2. Craig Burden, 1. Dale Chadwick. Replacements: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Eugene van Staden, 18. Anton Bresler, 19. Jacques Botes, 20. Ross Cronje, 21. Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22. Adrian Jacobs.

Pumas: 15 MJ Mentz, 14 Wilhelm Hendrik Loock, 13. JW Jonker, 12. Tiaan Marx, 11. Deon Scholtz 10 Coenie van Wyk, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Christo le Roux, 7 Jaco Bouwer, 6 Corne Steenkamp (captain), 5 Marius Coetzer, 4 Rudi Matthee, 3 Ashley Buys, 2 Marthinus van der Westhuizen, 1 Dawie Steyn. Replacements: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 Brett Nel, 18. Willem Serfontein, 19. JP Mostert, 20. Hendrik van der Nest, 21. Siviwe Magaba, 22. Johan Jackson.

Referee: Jaco Peyper. Kick-off: 3 pm.

Today’s fixtures (home team first): Sharks v Pumas 3 pm; WP v Leopards 3 pm; Free State v Blue Bulls 5.05 pm.

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