Chance to settle side

2014-10-14 00:00

WITH a trip up to Johannesburg at the end of the week, the Sharks will be smiling with no injured bodies to nurse following their 28-20 win over Western Province on the weekend.

The Currie Cup is into the business end of the competition as the Sharks take on the Lions in the first semi-final on Saturday in Johannesburg before Western Province host the Bulls in Cape Town.

Sharks coach Brad Macleod-Henderson believes that their improved second-half performance this weekend came down to a focus on keeping things simple.

“We spoke about tightening things up in the second half and our set piece took its toll on them. And we managed to completely dominate in the second half. The lineouts went really well and we managed to disrupt them,” Macleod-Henderson told the Sharks website.

The turnaround was important after the Sharks had a big deficit to chase down at half time. They were not clinical in that first half and will know they cannot afford to start like that against the Lions.

“We believe we can do it against the Lions on Saturday, but up at Ellis Park, it’s going to take a very special effort from us,” he said.

With a clean bill of health, the Sharks can use this weekend to sharpen up on minor errors and help settle some new combinations.

The newest change was the inclusion of Springbok scrumhalf Cobus Reinach, who returned to the side last week after the Rugby Championship. Reinach and flyhalf Lionel Cronjé had an indifferent first half and were not quick clicking.

That can be expected when a player returns to a side and Reinach had a good Super Rugby tournament and is familiar with the Sharks structures so this weekend should see an improved performance from him.

Although the Sharks have to travel for their semi-final date, they have enjoyed a winning streak that included beating the Lions just two weeks ago.

“There is some relevance in us defeating them two weeks ago and although it was played at home, we will take a lot of confidence out of that win. In fact to beat both sides above us on the log on consecutive weekends is a boost to the confidence we had already gained. We’ve enjoyed a run of five matches where we were undefeated, so the team is in a good space right now,” the coach said.

The Lions will be equally confident after running riot over the Cheetahs last weekend. A standout performer was Lions flyhalf Marnitz Botshoff, who is returning to the form that saw him earn a Bok call up after last year’s Currie Cup.

The Sharks will have to front up at the set piece as Lions coach Johan Ackermann will make no mistake in picking his strongest side.

The clash is at 2.30 pm on Saturday at Ellis Park.

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