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Currie Cup Log

Team Points
Premier Division
Xerox Golden Lions 10 10 48
Vodacom Blue Bulls 10 8 39
DHL Western Province 10 7 35
Toyota Free State Cheetahs 10 3 24
Cell C Sharks 10 4 22
Steval Pumas 10 3 17
Eastern Province Kings 10 2 12
ORC Griquas 10 1 8
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Let’s just win

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 28 Aug 2015 at 12:06
Tagged with : , , , , ,

Approaching tomorrow’s game against the Kings with much fear and trepidation, I do take a fair bit of comfort from the fact that victory (a non-negotiable one) is very much in the Sharks’ hands.

Not that it’s going to be easy, but in the way they played against the Kings last time around, the Sharks have a foolproof blueprint of how NOT to approach this week’s game. On the other hand, there was much to take from the performance last week (at least the first hour) to suggest that the team is turning the corner at last. This week, though, is the week in which they simply have to get it right from a basics point of view, or else risk their nascent Currie Cup campaign dying a very premature death indeed.

All talk of “attacking rugby” and “bums on seats” aside, the Sharks have to win this week and they will win if they get their basics right. With due respect to the Kings, they do not have the fire-power to beat this Sharks team unless said Sharks team implodes again, the way they did at Kings Park two weeks ago.

The commitment and attitude was questioned after that performance, with Gary Gold bemoaning a lack of intensity. That, for me, is a no brainer and if we still are battling to get the team to play with intensity at this stage of the campaign, then I give up. Let’s assume that the Sharks approach this game with the same intensity that they showed against the Lions, because there’s really no reason to doubt they they would.

The next most important thing is defence (and it is related to intensity and work rate as well). Defensive accuracy and tackle completion has been shockingly bad so far this season and even though the team defended well for 60 minutes against the Lions, they still emerged with a 20% missed tackle rate by the time 80 minutes were up. Face with this sort of statistic, I’m sure Gold and his assistants have been working tirelessly on defence as a non-negotiable basic that simply HAS TO come right against the Kings. In fact, if the Sharks do nothing other than make 90% of their tackles this weekend, they will win the game, regardless of how much they work on their attack. Defensive pressure creates turnovers and turnovers lead to tries – we’ve seen this time and again.

The decision to bench Thomas du Toit this week and start with a more seasoned tight head in Gerhard Engelbrecht is the right one. I have huge respect for Thomas and understand the process he’s trying to go through – one made incrementally more difficult by the fact that the Sharks’ have been exposed by Lourens Adriaanse’s injury. There’s a balancing act in play here – developing du Toit as a tighthead cannot come at the expense of winning this game and while it’s fair to say that Dale Chadwick also needs to seriously pull up his socks at scrum time, the Sharks have made the right selection call in order to shore up a key set piece this week.

Win the scrums, win the lineouts, make your tackles and you really don’t need any luck to ensure a win against the Kings. Let’s get those basics in place, get ourselves into knockout contention once more and then we can decide how to further build on a more solid platform.


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