Rush defence worked like a charm

Sun, 27 Oct 2013 13:44
Large sharks tackle wp Large jannie   bismarck du plessi Large currie cup trophy3

The spotlight was placed on the Sharks' kicking game, but their defence was just as critical to success in the Final.

The spotlight was placed mostly on the Sharks' effective kicking game, but their defence was just as critical to the success of their Final campaign.

Brad MacLeod-Henderson, speaking after his team's 33-19 triumph over the previously unbeaten Western Province in the Currie Cup Final at Newlands at the weekend, was full of praise for how his players "physically" stood up to the opposition and described them as "amazing".

And while he was happy to heap praise on the kickers, just like the Province camp did, for their fine execution of their well-planned tactics, it was on defence where the Sharks made the biggest shift in the Final.

The team was still formally under the guidance of Brendan Venter, but there was more than just a hint that parts of Jake White's famed rush-defence was employed in the Final.

By all accounts Venter was "hands-on" at training last week, but White - who will take over now that the Currie Cup season is over - was an interesting observer at Sharks training sessions earlier in the season.

The credit was also formally given to Venter, as well as his assistants - MacLeod-Henderson and Sean Everitt.

And MacLeod-Henderson admitted that it was a deliberate tactic to come hard off the line and deny the fleet-footed Province backs any time and space.

"We knew that we needed to win the collisions," the Sharks' forward coach said.

"The easiest way to win the collisions is to get off the line aggressively," he said, adding: "We wanted to do that, we knew they had some big ball carriers up front and if we could snuff them out we wouldn't allow them any momentum.

"We focussed quite hard on getting off the line on defence to put them under pressure and obviously when they start moving it out wide we'd move our wing up to close down any space," he said of a tactic first made famous during Jake White's successful 2007 World Cup campaign - where WP coach Allister Coetzee was his assistant and current Sharks CEO John Smit was White's captain.

MacLeod-Henderson said their defence worked really well and it was great that they managed to keep it up for 80 minutes.

"It was definitely our best performance of the year and has been a fantastic end to what has been a great Currie Cup [campaign] for us."

He said physically the guys were "amazing" and they certainly stood up in the contact areas.

"Our kicking game was strong and our defence was awesome," the forwards mentor said.

He admitted that having been the underdogs going into the game helped "a bit" with motivation.

"The guys started like a house on fire and continued for 80 minutes," MacLeod-Henderson said, adding: "We are very fortunate [that ] we've got  some fantastic players.

"Frans Steyn showed again what a class act he is.

"Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck [du Plessis], Beast [Tendai Mtawarira] - everyone stood up.

"A couple of young guys, [like] Pieter-Steph du Toit was amazing. SP Marais played fantastically."

He also admitted that having had Bismarck du Plessis cleared by a disciplinary hearing, with his brother Jannie recovering from injury and Willem Alberts declared fit had a huge impact.

"Those three are world class players," he said, adding: "Bismarck and Jannie have 50 Tests both of them.

"Willem showed what he is capable of - he just stepped up.

"To have those three guys available made a massive difference.

"When a Springbok comes back down [to the Currie Cup competition from Test rugby] you want him to play like a Springbok.

"Those guys that were on national duty had a long season, it has been a long year. For them to come out and play the way they did, it just showed what it meant to them."

By Jan de Koning, at Newlands

There are currently no matches being played
Fri, 16 October 2015
Blue Bulls v Western Province 17h10 Pretoria
Connacht v Zebre 18h30 Sportsground
Glasgow Warriors v Dragons 18h35 Scotstoun
Scarlets v Leinster 18h35 Parc y Scarlets
Worcester Warriors v Northampton Saints 18h45 Sixways
Edinburgh v Ulster 18h45 BT Murrayfield
Harlequins v Wasps 18h45 Twickenham Stoop
Newcastle Falcons v Gloucester 19h00 Kingston Park
Sat, 17 October 2015
Munster v Cardiff Blues 12h30 Irish Independent Park
Bath v Exeter Chiefs 13h00 Recreation Ground
Saracens v Sale Sharks 13h00 Allianz Park
Treviso v Ospreys 13h30 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
South Africa v Wales 15h00 Twickenham
Golden Lions v Free State Cheetahs 15h05 Johannesburg
New Zealand v France 19h00 Millennium Stadium
Sun, 18 October 2015
Ireland v Argentina 12h00 Millennium Stadium
London Irish v Leicester Tigers 14h15 Madejski Stadium
Australia v Scotland 15h00 Twickenham
Sun, 11 October 2015
United States v Japan 18 | 28
France v Ireland 9 | 24
Italy v Romania 32 | 22
Argentina v Namibia 64 | 19
Sat, 10 October 2015
England v Uruguay 60 | 3
Australia v Wales 15 | 6
Golden Lions v Griquas 29 | 19
Samoa v Scotland 33 | 36
Free State Cheetahs v Sharks 34 | 34
Fri, 09 October 2015
New Zealand v Tonga 47 | 9
Western Province v EP Kings 45 | 14
Pumas v Blue Bulls 24 | 25
Wed, 07 October 2015
Namibia v Georgia 16 | 17
South Africa v United States 64 | 0
Tue, 06 October 2015
Fiji v Uruguay 47 | 15
Team P W D L Pts
Golden Lions 10 10 0 0 48
Blue Bulls 10 8 0 2 39
Western Province 10 7 0 3 35
Free State Cheetahs 10 3 2 5 24
Sharks 10 4 1 5 22
Pumas 10 3 1 6 17
EP Kings 10 2 0 8 12
Griquas 10 1 0 9 8