Sharks wary but confident

2014-08-13 00:00

THE Currie Cup is set to serve up another bruising encounter for the Sharks when they host the Pumas on Friday night. The Sharks will be wary of the visitors, who will be confident having beaten the Cheetahs last weekend.

Sharks coach Brad Macleod-Henderson is taking nothing away from the ­Pumas, who were promoted to the Premier division this year.

“The Currie Cup is a tough competition, all eight sides have quality players. They [Pumas] showed that last week, they got a good win against the Cheetahs. I think they’ve lost two or three games in the past two years, so they’re a quality side. They’ve been together for a while, they know where they going, they’re well structured and we will need to perform well on Friday night,” said Macleod-Henderson.

The Pumas were very physical in their win over the Cheetahs, but the Sharks coach is confident in his pack, who provided a solid platform that saw his side beat the Griquas in Kimberley last Saturday.

“I thought our set piece functioned well. Just before half-time we got that turnover scrum, which was really a game changer for us. We went into half-time with a lot of momentum and our lineout functioned pretty well,” he said.

Macleod-Henderson was also happy that his side had come out of the Griquas derby having blooded new players.

“There were eight guys making their Currie Cup debut for the Sharks and they all had great games, so it was a good start for us,” he said.

The Sharks also want to stick with a winning recipe. “We pretty much want to keep the side as close to the team who played in Kimberley,” the coach added.

The Sharks coaching staff were also impressed with new captain Tera Mtembu who handled the extra pressure exceptionally well.

“He played well, the guys were pretty motivated and energetic throughout the game. There were one or two very trying times in the game and we came through, so we’re very happy.”

Mtembu admitted he felt some added pressure but enjoyed his first match at the helm. “The last minute I had to make a decision either to go for the line for the bonus point or just to take the points. I was just happy with the win because we have fallen short in the last couple of seasons,” he said.

Mtembu also had an experienced head in veteran Jacques Botes next to him.

“I spoke to Jacques throughout the game and even after the game I had a bit of a review with him on how it went. I’m still learning and I’m happy I’ve got a guy like him to lean on,” Mtembu said.

The Sharks announce their team to face the Pumas today. Kick off is at 7 pm at King’s Park.

Mtembu on Pumas’ forwards:

“They have very solid players, they’ve played together for a long time as a team. They are going to be a tough forward pack for us and its a great challenge.”

Mtembu on scrumhalf Cameron Wright’s debut:

“I think a guy like Cameron looked like he played there for a long time. I didn’t have to help him with anything. I thought he did very well, so did the rest of the guys who had their first games.”

Macleod-Henderson on rotation policy:

“We will be mixing things up. It’s a combination of giving other guys an opportunity and resting guys who have had quite a bit of rugby. We will be looking at making changes, probably starting from next week.”

Macleod-Henderson on taming the Pumas:

“It all starts upfront, they’ve got a steady scrum, a good lineout and they look to play from there. They’ve got two quite abrasive centres who look to punch holes and then they look to play off that. Defensively, we need to be strong, our set piece needs to function and if those two go right, I’m sure we’ll have a good day.”

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