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Smart rugby from the Sharks

Written by Richard Ferguson (Richard Ferguson)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 13 Feb 2012 at 08:30
Tagged with : , , , , , , ,

I have been very fortunate in that I have been able to be at Kings Park for both the trial match a week or so ago as well as the friendly against Boland last Friday. I am well aware that not a lot can be read into these games, but a few things have stood out.

Firstly, there has been a lot of work put into the players’ handling and passing skills. This was evident at the trials match, where the interplay between the backline players were better than I have seen from the Sharks in recent years, and then again against Boland, the understanding between the players is something you would expect at a game of touch rugby.

Whether pop passes and ‘faster’ rugby is a good thing for the Sharks or not, remains to be seen, but it sure makes the Sharks rugby viewing a pleasure, somewhat like watching a Crusaders backline in full swing. Some might say it is dangerous and could cost the Sharks possession and potentially even points, but hell it is beautiful to watch when those passes do stick. And the way things have been going, albeit only against Boland, they stick more often than not.

Each player would go into contact, try their utmost best to free their hands and somehow get the ball away before going to ground. The ability to stay on their feet was something that must have been discussed with the players and something that was given specific attention.

Something that jumped at me from viewing the game from a little higher in the stands, was how well the defensive lines were running. On defence, the backline would bunch closer together, giving the impression that the attacking team would have an overlap. But the shifting of players and their man marking is something I have not seen before, with the cross defence putting in a lot of work in case the line is broken.

A fantastic example of this was when JP Pietersen and Odwa Ndungane were stuck trying to defend three attacking players. JPP made his tackle, saw that there was a two on one on Odwa, and immediately double backed to make a second tackle. And all of this in a game titled as ‘friendly’.

Something that my mate Barry, who graciously helped me on Friday night by making notes and actually watching the game with my dodgy eyesight letting me down from up in the stands, noticed was the fact that the players would change positions depending on where they were on the park.

For instance, on attack in the first half, Keegan Daniel would be at the back of the scrum and Marcell Coetzee would pack down at flank. On defence, they would swap so that Coetzee can add his weight and great defensive ability from the back of the scrum.

This leads me to think that although it might seem so simple and has probably be done by many other teams over the years, the Sharks are actually thinking about the little things, and are being smarter in their approach to the game. These little things are making me very excited about the Sharks season.


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