Sharks hit by injuries

2014-09-02 00:00

AFTER suffering their first loss of the Currie Cup to the Pumas this weekend, the Sharks have more to worry about with a number of players laid low by injuries.

Flank Francois Kleynhans and lock JC Astle are the two casualties from Saturday’s 32-22 loss. Their injuries added to the Sharks’ woes on the night as they struggled to front up to a determined and direct Pumas side.

The bad news is that Kleynhans might not feature again in the Currie Cup after suffering a broken hand and is expected to take eight weeks to recover. Astle will be out of action for three weeks with a hamstring strain.

It leaves the Durban outfit in an interesting position as they are particularly short on depth at lock.

Thankfully Stephan Lewies came off the bench against the Pumas and looked fairly comfortable having just returned but lock Etienne Oosthuizen, who has also played flank this year, has an ankle niggle that will be reassessed later in the week.

Aside from injuries, many aspects led to a tough day at the office but the Pumas’ overall dominance never really allowed the Sharks to build up phases and produce opportunities.

Thankfully the steady boot of Fred Zeilinga kept the scoreboard ticking for the Sharks. His backline never really got firing aside from a short passage of play that sent fullback SP Marais in for the Sharks’ only try of the night.

Despite a questionable yellow card, the Sharks’ defence was often stretched by the Pumas and they will want to work on that during the week as the Griquas play a similar brand of dynamic and direct running rugby to the Pumas.

The game was also difficult to judge as a lot of scoring opportunities came from broken play. The Sharks tried to scramble on defence but the Pumas had their tails up and almost always got over the advantage line.

Sharks coach Brad Macleod-Henderson will have to consider the number of line breaks his team conceded. Defence is often based on attitude but the Pumas too easily breached the Sharks’ line.

Perhaps a loss was needed to point areas of concern for the Sharks as they get closer to playing bigger unions. That will come after the end of their double rounds against the Cheetahs, Griquas and Pumas in the opening six weeks.

Hopefully Macleod-Henderson will take a page out of the Cheetahs’ book and focus on dominating set-pieces this Saturday. They will also do well to stretch the Griquas out wide like the Cheetahs did and keep the game flowing.

Nevertheless, the next two weeks are a big test for the Sharks before they come up against the likes of the Lions, Bulls and most importantly, Western Province.

The Sharks host the Griquas in Durban on Saturday. Kickoff is at 5.10 pm at King’s Park.

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