Sharks ‘have to play with what they have’

2014-02-24 00:00

“Play with what you have.”

That was Jake White’s message after the Sharks beat the Hurricanes 27-9 in their Super Rugby game at King’s Park on Saturday.

For periods of the game, the Sharks seemed to be happy to kick the ball down field to the Hurricanes and allowed them to run at them, sometimes forcing the turnover but not able to regularly put points on the board.

Looking at positives out of the game, White was happy that the Sharks controlled their set-pieces, and managed to nick a turnover or two when Mark Hammett’s men had the ball.

“The plan was to make them play the length of the field if they wanted to score any points. With the set-piece that we have, we had to back it and make sure that if they turned the ball over in their own half and we got a set-piece, we could turn that into points, whether it was a scrum, penalty or lineout. It wasn’t pretty at times, but the reality is that you have to play with what you have,” White said after the game.

“It wasn’t a case of kicking so much. It was a case of keeping them down in their half.”

White was also happy with how his team did in defence, particularly how they were able to adapt from the Bulls’ forwards-based game the previous week, to the more fluid running game offered by the Hurricanes.

And rightly so, the Wellington-based side rarely looked like scoring with the Sharks camped in their half for large parts of the game.

With only four points in it at half time, White said although he was wondering why it was so close, he had told his charges that they literally had to play the Hurricanes dead into the ground by scrumming them off their feet.

“I said to them before the game and at half time was that we needed to scrum their legs to make sure they couldn’t move around the field … By mauling and scrumming and getting up again and mauling and scrumming, by the end of the day, it takes it out of any team that’s trying to attack from 70 metres out,” White said.

Hurricanes coach Hammett said the Sharks brought a game that they expected they would bring, particularly up front.

“It was actually a pretty good game for early season. We knew we were going to be up against it in the forwards and what they’d bring. But I thought we soaked up pressure pretty well,” he said, reacting to the game.

The game as a contest was over in the 65th minute when Lwazi Mvovo went over for a try after intercepting a Marty Banks pass, and Hammett admitted he had been pretty comfortable up to then as Beauden Barrett had been knocking over the penalties to keep them close to the Sharks.

While the Sharks enjoy a bye next weekend, the Hurricanes head to Cape Town to take on the Stormers at Newlands for what should be an intense encounter between two teams looking for their first wins.

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