Sharks not happy with set pieces, says Bashford

2009-09-23 00:00

ASSISTANT coach Grant Bashford said yesterday that the Sharks will be concentrating on improving in the set pieces and in their kicking game when they face the Leopards in Friday night’s Currie Cup game at Absa Stadium.

The Sharks, sitting pretty at the top of the log, can ensure home ground advantage in the play-offs by picking up maximum points in their three remaining games (against the Leopards and the Lions in Durban and Griquas in Kimberley).

Bashford said the Sharks forwards were “not happy with their set piece work” during their win over Free State at the weekend.

“We also felt we kicked too much ball away and inaccurately, which allowed the Free Staters to counter-attack. Defensively, we have been good all season with the best record in the Currie Cup but we did give Free State too much space out wide so we also need to improve there.”

The Sharks team for Friday night’s game will be named today, and Bashford said a number of players are still nursing injuries — “we have options so we can afford to rest some of them”. Flank Jean Deysel is nursing a sore knee, while prop Beast Mtawarira (Achilles tendon), wing JP Pietersen and lock Johann Muller are recovering well, but will not yet be available, he added.

Both Bashford and head coach John Plumtree said they will respect the Leopards, who have been heavily beaten in away games.

“We’ll back ourselves to beat them with a bonus point, but we won’t underestimate them,” said Bashford. “When we beat them away in the first round, they were in the game for the first 30 minutes, so we need to weather the early storm, play patiently and build pressure”.

Plumtree said the Leopards will enjoy the challenge of playing at Absa Stadium.

“They’ll be up for the game, no doubt, so we cannot take them for granted.”

Ruan Pienaar will be back at his favoured position at scrumhalf and Bashford said the emphasis is on allowing him to settle in one position to build up his confidence.

“But he obviously has the ability to play successfully at scrumhalf or flyhalf.”

Bashford said there were three parts to the planning of the Sharks’ Currie Cup season.

The first was the need to grow a young team while the Boks were away, the second was to integrate them when they returned and the third was to work on the combinations and build toward the play-offs.

“We have a lot of confidence in our whole squad and it’s a healthy position to be in. We can freshen up players and get everyone fit, strong and ready to go in the closing stages.

“History shows that home ground advantage plays huge part in the play-offs and that’s our goal.”

Meanwhile, the regular Leopards captain Wilhelm Koch, and five other regulars are injured. Andre Swanepoel is the new captain, but talented fullback Russell Jeacocks, inside centre Basil de Doncker, flyhalf Cecil Dumont, prop Nardus Lombard and star scrumhalf Michael Bondesio are all missing.

LEOPARDS: Danie Dames; Jovan Bowles, Deon van Rensburg, Berndt Theissinger, Jan van Zyl; Clayton Durand, Jean Tiedt; RW Kember, Thabo Mamojele, Andre Swanepoel , Draad Linde, Ligtoring Landman, Os van der Walt, Gavin Williamson, Divan Kotz. Reserves: Pellow van der Westhuizen, Nardus Lombard, Bennie Adams, Riaan Swanepoel, Chris Erasmus, Neil Jacobs, Bom Samaai.

Friday’s match kicks off at 7.10 pm (SS1) and Jonathan Kaplan will be the referee.

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