The fear of failure

2011-05-07 00:00

THE fear of failure, a beefy pack and the backing of the home crowd should lift the Sharks to victory over the Brumbies in the Super Rugby clash at King’s Park tonight.

The Sharks, after a rollicking start to the competition and four wins on the bounce, have stalled in recent weeks and have now lost four of their last six games. Defeat to the Brumbies in their own back yard tonight could result, in the words of coach John Plumtree, “in just another season for the Sharks”.

The Brumbies, with the early confusion over their coaches and lacking any consistency, have won just two of their nine games this season with just one victory in their last seven outings in Durban.

But even Plumtree is twitchy and uncertain after the limp showing at Newlands a week back, whether men or boys will take the field for the Sharks tonight.

In terms of selection, anyway, he has added power to the Sharks pack with the muscular Jean Deysel — who plays in the no-nonsense style of Willem Alberts — joining the back row. The two-metre lock, Alistair Hargreaves, returns and will ensure that by way of a change the Sharks win a fair slice of lineout ball.

But the disappointment of their showing last week should spark an all-out effort tonight and the Sharks will be hoping to pick up where the Cheetahs left off in Bloemfontein by over-powering the Brumbies at forward.

Plumtree is not the only one who is confused by the Brumbies’ lack of success this season.

“When you look at them play and how well-organised they are, and the personnel they have, it’s a little surprising to see where they are on the log.

“Certainly, analysing their set pieces and the way they launch from their play-makers, Matt Giteau and Christian Lealiifano, they are dangerous. “

The Sharks coach said he is looking for a dramatic improvement in defence after four relatively soft tries were leaked last week at Newlands. “We have to be really sharp defensively because the Brumbies use space effectively and they can be hard to read because of the way they play.

“We’re more direct and, I guess, easier to read on attack. But it will be a tough contest. They will be hurting after losing to the Cheetahs and they will want to take something out of their South African tour.”

The Brumbies have prepared for another bruising evening and coach Tony Rea is looking to his back row of Ita Vaea, Colby Faingaa and Mitch Chapman to emulate the Stormers and win the power battle.

“We’re looking for physicality from the back row straight away. It was a bit of a shock being exposed by the Cheetahs. Our intent was good, but we just have to match it with our execution,” said Rea.

The Brumbies’ backline coach, former Wallaby flyhalf Stephen Larkham, said the Stormers had shown how the Sharks can be beaten.

“They closed down flyhalf Pat Lambie quickly and that’s what we will do. We’ll play in Pat’s face all night.”

The Sharks, in turn, will aim to provide the pressure at forward to break the Brumbies’ attacking rhythm and prevent the talented Giteau dictating the flow of the game from flyhalf, while also affording their own under-performing backs with the opportunity to play on the front foot.

With eight forwards who have seen action for the Springboks at various stages, the Sharks have the tools to do the job. And, after their painful experiences at Newlands, they should have the desire and ambition to buoy their home crowd.

 

TEAMS

Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Stefan Terblanche (c), 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Eugene van Staden, 18 Anton Bresler, 19 Marcel Coetzee, 20 Conrad Hoffmann, 21 Adi Jacobs, 22 Lwazi Mvovo

Brumbies: 15 Pat McCabe, 14 Andrew Smith, 13 Tyrone Smith, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Pat Phibbs, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 Colby Faingaa, 6 Mitch Chapman, 5 Mark Chisholm, 4 Peter Kimlin, 3 Jono Owen, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander.

Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Salesi Ma’afu, 18 Ben Hand, 19 Michael Hooper, 20 Josh Valentine, 21 Robbie Coleman, 22 Franky Fainifo

Referee: Mark Lawrence.

Kick-off: 7.10 pm (SS1).

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