Sharks focus on set pieces ahead of Western Province encounter

2013-09-04 00:00

WHILE the Sharks are eyeing a set-piece battle at Newlands on Saturday night, Western Province are preparing for a tennis match.

The Sharks head the Currie Cup log while second-placed Province are the current champions and it should be another tense, bruising battle at Newlands.

Sharks captain Jacques Botes said yesterday they knew what to expect from Province and there had been a heavy emphasis on the set piece at team training.

In contrast, WP coach Allister Coetzee said the Sharks have changed their ways under the new coaching regime headed by Brendan Venter, and his team would have to adapt to their kicking approach.

“There is a radical departure by the Sharks from what they used to do. They now play very much a strangle and suffocate style of rugby,” Coetzee said yesterday of the tactical kicking game adopted by flyhalf Fred Zeilinga.

“They are far less intent on engaging defenders than they were before. While in the past the Sharks teams could score tries from 60 metres out by using turn­over ball, you get the feeling that now the kick is the first option.

“They hardly played any rugby in their own half in their recent games. It’s a bit of tennis [kicking to and fro] that you will see on Saturday.”

Coetzee said that flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis, who is back in Cape Town after playing for the Kings, would almost certainly not play against the Sharks after recovering from injury. However, Gary van Aswegen is back to full fitness and could start at flyhalf.

Botes said the victories in Bloemfontein over the Cheetahs and against the Bulls at the weekend had allowed the Sharks to build momentum and confidence.

“But we have a massive task this weekend against Province down in Cape Town.

“With a new coaching set-up, there are many things we’re working on … there is always room for improvement.

“Our set piece is an area we want to be top-notch. Province have a fantastic lineout and they are a strong driving side. Their defence is excellent and they also have a dangerous back three if they get turnover ball or a good bounce.”

Botes said the new rotation process in the Sharks squad was working well.

“We all know upfront exactly where we stand, when we’re going to play and what’s expected of us.

“It’s not just a 22-man game, but a squad game. During the tournament we hope to use 30 to 32 players and everyone will have an opportunity to claim a starting spot.

“That kind of competition is excellent because it brings out the best in each individual and makes sure there is enough depth and quality back-up in case of injury or loss of form,” Botes said.

Saturday’s match kicks off at 7.10 pm and Craig Joubert, South Africa’s premier referee, will be in charge.

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