Sharks look to improve attacking game against Kings

2013-03-06 00:00

THE Sharks are looking to improve their attacking game when they take on the Southern Kings in their Super Rugby outing in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The Sharks failed to cross the Stormers’ line, relying on four penalties for their 12-6 win. The previous week they were outscored by three tries to two in edging out the Cheetahs 29-22 in Bloemfontein.

“We’re not entirely happy with our attack,” coach John Plumtree said in his weekly media briefing at King’s Park yesterday.

“Obviously our defence is coming on, and I was really happy with our kicking game against the Stormers, but we want to grow our attacking game and we’ll work really hard on it this week.”

The Sharks coach said that slow ball in phase-play had compounded their problems against the Stormers.

“There was plenty going on at the breakdown and lots of counter- rucking. We had to send more players to the ruck than we would have preferred and that leaves you with fewer numbers on attack.”

He said he was looking for an improvement in that area, both in decision-making and in keeping the ball in hand for longer periods.

“We need to give players like [wing] JP Pietersen more ball but that means providing [flyhalf] Pat Lambie with quicker ball from the breakdown.”

The Kings had a bye at the weekend. Plumtree said he had been impressed with their opening game when they beat the Western Force in Port Elizabeth. “Their setpiece and defence stats are right up there at Super Rugby standard. That just shows that they are certainly capable. I don’t think the Force expected it and they got beaten. Good on the Kings. There are a lot of seasoned campaigners in their squad but also some young guys who are pretty enthusiastic.

“They put it all together against the Force and came up with a good win.”

Plumtree said that there were no new injury problems in the squad but it was too early to talk about player rotation.

“We’re only at round three and there are two more games after Kings before we have a bye and that is an opportunity to freshen everyone up.

“We’re in for a pretty long haul until after we tour and by then we hope we will have reinforcements back and we we will have a little more choice.”

Plumtree said that because of injury, and apart from backs Riaan Viljoen and Marius Joubert, the match 22 “is pretty much all we have at present”.

But Plumtree admitted there were sore bodies in the squad.

“A few players reckon that in terms of physicality, Saturday’s game was the hardest game they’ve ever played. It shows just how tough that fixture was.”

Springbok wing JP Pietersen said that Saturday’s war of attrition was to be expected when the “best play the best in the South African conference”.

“We all know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The Stormers are a very organised team. They are defensively very sound and all of their tackles are positive hits. There were a few times when we could have improved more in our attacking game and created more opportunities, but it was really tough out there.”

He said that Sergeal Petersen, the 18-year-old Kings wing who scored two tries in the win over the Force, would provide a real test for the Sharks defence. “He’s a really bright talent and I think he’s going to be a handful for us on Saturday.”

Saturday’s game kicks off at 7.10 pm.

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