Sharks look to tighten tactics against Hurricanes

2012-04-04 00:00

THE loose tactical kicking by the Sharks against the Brumbies could prove fatal against the Hurricanes in New Plymouth on Friday.

Time and again the Sharks booted the ball downfield in Canberra, allowing the Brumbies to run the ball back and forcing John Plumtree’s team to make far too many tackles.

The defence held, just, for a 29-26 win but Plumtree, who coached in Wellington from 2001-2006, is aware that the Hurricanes will pose even more of a threat.

Not much has changed, he said yesterday. “Obviously their counter-attack is still outstanding and from turnover ball they are dangerous … We’ve seen the structure they’ve brought in to get out of their half and gain territory … possibly that’s changed, but not too much else really.

“They are looking alright. I don’t think they are too far away from being very good, actually.”

He told reporters that backs Andre Taylor, Julian Savea and Beauden Barrett had impressed him.

“They have threats all over the park. It’s the old story. Sometimes you have to bottle it all up and play slightly more conservatively for where you are on the field. But that can be a struggle when you have [Sharks] players who want to play from everywhere.”

The Hurricanes have been hammered by the local media after being badly beaten by the Cheetahs at the weekend and Plumtree said they could have underestimated the Free Staters. He said this could count against the Sharks who were expecting a backlash.

“Coming off a big win over the Blues, young guys get right up there and struggle to get down to earth. So maybe there was a bit of complacency there, but they won’t have any problem with that this week. I’d say they’ll be desperate to get back on track.”

The Sharks obviously hope to emulate the Cheetahs, who exposed the Huricanes up front. “It’s one thing saying that you want to dominate up front but it is another thing doing it. Our forwards have been going alright, but we’re not totally happy with where we are.

“The Cheetahs are a very good driving side, their front row’s very experienced and it’s part of what they do. Certainly, the Hurricanes will be expecting us to go for forward domination, but we’ll wait and see how we go.”

Just a single log point separates the Sharks and the Hurricanes (both have won three games in six).

“We need to be more accurate in certain areas of the field,” Plumtree said. “We’ve scored a try and let the opposition hit straight back and that’s been frustrating.”

The Sharks have still to make a fitness call on flyhalf Pat Lambie and hooker Bismarck du Plessis while the Hurricanes are awaiting a definite prognosis on young number eight Brad Shields’s shoulder injury. Their senior players, Victor Vito and Jason Eaton, are expected to return from injury on Friday.

The Sharks and Hurricanes share a flight from Wellington to New Plymouth tomorrow and Friday’s game kicks off at 9.35 am (SA time).

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