Sharks need consistency

2012-04-06 00:00

THE Sharks would dearly love to pick up where the Cheetahs left off when they face the Hurricanes in their Super Rugby game in New Plymouth today.

The Cheetahs found themselves trailing 32-11 to the Hurricanes last Saturday, but then took charge at forward and found gaping holes in defence to win going away 47-38.

The Sharks know that the Hurricanes, hammered by their media and supporters, will bounce back today and they will have to be maintain their focus for 80 minutes against an excellent counter-attacking unit.

The plan would appear to be simple — squeeze the life out of the Hurricanes’ forwards and then playing accurate rugby, both in handling and kicking, to limit turnovers and restrict their counter-attacking opportunities.

The repeat of the Sharks’ failings against the Brumbies last weekend — when they held on grimly for a

29-26 win — could prove fatal today.

Time and again in Canberra the Sharks booted away possession and allowed the Brumbies to run the ball back at them. The Hurricanes thrive in such situations.

The Sharks will also not find it as easy to bully the Hurricanes forwards who will be better prepared and have All Black lock Jason Eaton over his injury and back to stiffen their resolve. The Sharks, in turn, are resting their abrasive Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis and his replacement, the enthusiastic Craig Burden, could take time to settle, both in the scrum and in finding his jumpers at the lineout.

One of the most remarkable features of the Sharks’ two recent games is that they have not lost a line­out on their own throw in spite of being short of a genuine jumper and Burden’s throwing will be tested.

Coach John Plumtree will also be looking to his strong and physical bench (five forwards and only two backs) to make a significant difference in the final quarter.

Certainly the fierce commitment of Bismarck du Plessis, Wiehahn Herbst, Anton Bresler, Jean Deysel and Jacques Botes should provide the Sharks with genuine impetus in the closing stages.

Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett, in turn, has rejigged his backrow and he is looking to flanks Karl Lowe and Jack Lam to win the battle of the breakdown.

Hammett said: “I think that could be quite an exciting part of the game.

“They’re both fairly aggressive players on the ground and it should be wet so they could be a good combination.”

The breakdown will be the key area. The Sharks, with South African referees, have struggled to stay above the law at the tackle, but they have conceded fewer penalties with the overseas referees and they will be hoping the trend continues with young New Zealand referee Glen Jackson. The former Chiefs and Saracens flyhalf, who quit the game to become a professional referee in 2010, has been fast-tracked into Super Rugby ranks and he is highly-rated in New Zealand.

The Hurricanes, like the Sharks, are looking to add accuracy to attitude, their talented centre Tim Bateman told reporters yesterday.

The Hurricanes have run in tries from all angles and distances, but they have also left yawning gaps for their opponents.

“We are just making it too easy on the opposition and they’re not having to work too hard,” Bateman said.

“Our systems are good and our intentions are good, but we just have let ourselves down a bit through mistakes and discipline.”

Hammett has promised Hurricane supporters an improved effort.

“I’m very confident in terms of doing the homework and being mentally right,” he said.

“But it’s the old story of not how you train, but how you play.”

Plumtree has emphasised all week that the Cheetahs, in thumping the Hurricanes last week, had made the Sharks’ job today more difficult.

“The Hurricanes were perhaps complacent against the Cheetahs and they are now hurting. They taken a lot of flak from the local media and they will be pretty desperate.

“We have to build on what we achieved against the Brumbies last week.”

The Sharks have blown hot and cold all season, but now they need to find the consistency which transforms good teams into title contenders.


Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Faifili Levave, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Jack Lam, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 James Broadhurst, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben May.

Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Michael Bent, 18 Mark Reddish, 19 Jeremy Thrush, 20 Chris Eaton, 21 Tusi Pisi, 22 Charlie Ngatai.

Sharks: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Louis Ludik, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (c), 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Jandre Marais, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Dale Chadwick. Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Anton Bresler, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Jacques Botes, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Marius Joubert/Paul Jordaan

R eferee: Glen Jackson (NZ). Kick off: 9.35 am (South African time).

Weekend fixtures


Hurricanes vs Sharks 9.35 am

Reds vs Brumbies, 11.40.

Force vs Chiefs 1.40 pm.


Highlanders vs Stormers 9.35 am

Cheetahs vs Lions 3.00 pm.

Bulls vs Crusaders 5.05 pm.

Bye: Waratahs

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