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Xerox Golden Lions 10 10 48
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Sharks vs Kings at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium

Written by Maria Delport (Letgo)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 7 Mar 2013 at 08:00
Tagged with : , , , , , , ,

The Sharks will travel to Port Elizabeth where they will be taking on Super Rugby newcomers the Kings in their third local conference match in as many encounters in this year’s competition. This will be the first match for the Sharks at Nelson Madela Bay Stadium and the first Super Rugby match between these two teams and will kick off at 19:10 on Saturday.

John Plumtree has not only emphasised the importance of getting off to a good start and building some momentum before they have to go on tour, but specifically pointed out the importance of conference matches in this competition format. South African Derbies are always tight affairs, a real arm wrestle with one team, if not both coming out of the battle feeling a little worn out, as I’m sure both the Sharks and Stormers can attest to after last weekend’s absolutely high intensity (if not that pleasing to the viewer in entertainment value and excitement), bruising encounter.

But the Sharks feel that they could have done more on attack and John Plumtree says that they will hope to improve on this aspect this weekend.

“I think the ball on the weekend was pretty slow, there was a lot of counter rucking, we had to see more numbers to the rucks than we prefer to and that obviously leads to fewer options on attack, as players had to commit to the ruck. Sometimes players would go in there and were not needed and that’s a stress thing.

“Hopefully we’ll get better at that and the guys will start to make better decisions and we’ll maintain ball for long periods of time and give guys like JP a bit more ball, a bit more fast ball. That’s obviously what Pat (Lambie) wants, the ball that Pat got on the weekend was not ideal, because it was too slow and makes it pretty hard to run off, so we just have to make sure that we get that going.”

“It depends on the conditions. I’m hoping (we will be able to play more expansive). I’m hoping we’ll find a little more space and let the ball move around a little bit. It looks like the Kings will do the same thing, so it could be a good spectacle, the pitch looks really nice”.

JP Pietersen though feels that a big part of what looked to be lacking in the Sharks’s attack against the Stormers was what the opposition brought to the table.

“That happens when you play the best against the best, in the South African conference. We all know each other’s weaknesses and the Stormers are a great organised team. They are very sound defensively, but like Plum said we could improve on our attacking game and create more opportunities for us on attack. It was very tough out there for any attack though”

The Kings on the other hand has only been part of this competition long enough to yet again prove that Australia does not have enough depth to accommodate 5 teams in this competition and that their conference most probably will prove to be the weakest in 2013, as it did in 2012. It’s hard to say how good the Kings’ first showing really was, even after the Force gave the Bulls a bit of a scare at Loftus last week.

The Kings have something to prove. Their team and style of play are mostly unknown to the Sharks and other teams, as are many of their players. Although there are a few stalwarts who has made their way into this team who would want to prove a few things of their own – Andries Strauss and Steven Sykes being some of the most prominent. He might not be available for this game, but Luke Watson will be an important part of their campaign.

The Sharks are the overwhelming favourites on paper and in experience, but it’s difficult to say what will happen in this match, whether this will be a typical derby match battled out between two South African sides or the more free and open that we’ve come to expect from new teams introduced into this competition. Certainly the odds seems to be stacked in favour of a comfortable Sharks win, but I have a feeling that if the Kings aren’t able to match up to the Sharks on the scoring board that their second objective will be to get even in the physical battle, as all South Africans do. Whether they have what it takes, remains to be seen, but I think this encounter will be a good one and hopefully entertaining, as John Plumtree says: “There are no easy matches in Super Rugby”.


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