No room for error as Sharks seek revenge over Griquas

2011-09-23 00:00

THERE will be no margin for error when the Sharks, seeking revenge after their first-round defeat in Kimberley, take on Griquas at King’s Park tonight.

The Sharks’ defeat in Bloemfontein last Saturday has almost certainly ended any chance of them overtaking the log-leading Lions and hosting a potential final.

Now the pressure is on the Sharks to keep winning over the final four rounds to ensure they finish second on the log and play one of the semi-finals in Durban.

The Sharks paid a heavy price for their inaccuracy and poor discipline early in August when they were thumped 43-22 in Kimberley.

Faultless Griqua fullback Rudi Vogt, on the bench tonight, was the Sharks’ tormentor on that dark evening in Kimberley as he kicked five penalties and converted all four tries.

Griquas do not travel well, but coach John Plumtree says the Sharks cannot bank on that and take victory for granted simply because the game is in Durban.

“Griquas are capable and they’ve had some very good results against big teams like us, the Cheetahs and Western Province. We have a lot of respect for them and they have some class players.”

One of them is fullback Riaan Viljoen, an alert attacker with a prodigious boot, who will be joining the Sharks at the end of the season.

They will, however, miss the lively Cheetahs scrumhalf, Sarel Pretorius, who is out injured tonight. Still, they will not be short of incentive as they chase the win which will revive their semi-final ambitions.

The Sharks have been boosted by the recovery from injury of scrumhalf Charl McLeod, tighthead Wiehahn Herbst and lock Ross Skeate. The three, all badly missed in Bloemfontein, are returning via the bench tonight but are certain to be involved in the second half.

With Adi Jacobs, Louis Ludik and young flank Marcell Coetzee also among the replacements, the Sharks should finish this contest with a flourish.

Assistant coach Hugh Reece-Edwards said the Sharks have to show a dramatic improvement.

“We can’t go into the play-offs performing poorly. We are still in the top three and that’s after being up and down. That shows that we have something, but we’ve also let ourselves down at times, and we need to get that belief back,” he said.

“I think Griquas will come down here desperate for the win that would keep them in line to secure a top- four spot and they will come with the added confidence brought about by the fact that they beat us in the first round and quite convincingly. Making the semi-finals would be a huge thing for them,” said Reece-Edwards.

Plumtree, understandably, is also wary. The Sharks have mixed good with bad all season and dozed off at unexpected moments. “We certainly will have to be on the ball against this Griquas side,” he added.

The play-offs are now just a month away and Plumtree will be looking for some consistency from a squad which is strong on paper but patchy on grass.

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