Sharks quality of play again the focus

2011-09-28 00:00

SHARKS coaches over the years have been at pains to point out that the quality of the performance is their single focus, and that everything falls into place when the team plays well.

“If we play well, the wins and bonus points will take care of themselves” is a common refrain.

Looking to the Sharks match against Western Province this Saturday at Mr Price Kings Park (5.05 pm kick-off), assistant coach Grant Bashford continues the theme.

“I think we talk about getting bonus points and that’s nice, but it’s more about the rugby we are playing at the moment that’s concerning us,” he said.

“The inaccuracy in the first 20 minutes this past weekend (against Griquas) and the basic errors is just unacceptable at this level. We just have to be a whole lot better than that if we want to progress in the tournament.”

He adds that playing with consistency is the biggest hurdle to overcome, because when they get it right, they are capitalising. “It has been a frustration, but the boys know what to do, and we just want to do it for longer.”

On a positive note, he is emphatic that the Sharks can get it right. “Absolutely, but there we do face some pressure because we are coming to the final stages of the competition and the challenge is about staying in the competition to the end.”

Like coach John Plumtree who hinted at possible changes at his post match media conference on Friday night, Bashford suggests the same.

“Selection is something you look at when things aren’t going well and you want to see if making changes will lead to improvement.

“Obviously looking at that game, we feel that there are some changes that could grow the team. That’s just based on performance because ultimately you want better performances and if players are getting opportunities week in and week out without taking them, then you need to look elsewhere. So obviously we’re looking to improve the group and get our game going.”

Assessing the final few rounds of the tournament before the knock-out stages, he believes that the competition for top four places is still wide open.

“If you look at the run-ins of all the teams, we get to play the Lions and Province at home.

“Our run-in compared to the Lions is better, but the Bulls perhaps have the easiest route and they’re starting to hit their straps.

“This competition is certainly far from decided in terms of log position. The Cheetahs are starting to play good rugby and they’re just two points behind us.

“There’s no reason why if we get our act together we can’t finish top, but at the moment we’re not even looking at log position, we’re just trying to get our game right and improving each week.

“The frustration for us in recent weeks is that we just aren’t playing the rugby we know we can.

“We are for short periods of time, but we aren’t building enough and being patient enough with the ball when we have it to put teams under enough pressure to hurt them.”

sharksrugby.co.za

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