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Pumas prepare for Shark attack

Thu, 14 Aug 2014 08:48
Jimmy-stonehouse-2
We know their strength lies in their backline
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The Pumas are preparing themselves for a pacey backline threat and a physical force in the forwards when they head to Durban to face the defending Currie Cup Champions.
 
Jimmy Stonehouse, while clearly delighted at his teams victory against the Cheetahs last Saturday, knows that the Sharks will be much more of a threat.
 
"We are aware that we have a tougher task coming up in the Sharks because we know that the Cheetahs are not the best side there is," the Pumas coach told rugby365.
 
"They have lost a lot of players - in saying that, so have the Sharks, but both of these teams still have nine Super Rugby players left.
 
"We are looking forward to see what we can do against them."
 
Take nothing away from the Pumas, their victory was well deserved, however it was made easier by the fact that the Cheetahs looked very out of sorts.
 
Stonehouse knows that for his team to overcome the defending champions there is going to have to be some work done in the lead up week.
 
"There is still room for improvement, our defense wasn't that great on the outside, we were not quick enough to move and adapt when they got overlaps," said Stonehouse.
 
"That has been our focus, because we know the Sharks will do the same against us with their quick backs.
 
"The other thing that needs work is our line-out and line-out mauling because we have recognized that the Sharks will also be looking to take us up front there.
 
"Even if we can manage them in the scrums and the line-outs, we still have to be aware of their backline.
 
"We know their strength lies in their backline and I think if we can hold up in our defense there we can do well against them."
 
It is always tough for the minnows of South African rugby to go up against the titans, even if those titans are crippled by Springbok selection amongst other things.
 
For Stonehouse and his Pumas, the biggest danger the Sharks posses is not their star quality, but their depth.
 
"The Sharks are obviously a great franchise, they are contracting Under-19 and Under-21 players giving them a plenty of depth," he continued
 
"Even though they are losing a lot of guys from the Super Rugby campaign, they can still produce a great team.
 
"Their youngsters obviously add massively, if you can play Under-19 and Under-21 Currie Cup level, you are used to that pressure and that gives you a good basis for your rugby career.
 
"The concern for us is really their depth, they are a big franchise,.
 
"However, we must remember that we want to be here so we can not look at that as a problem."
 
Stonehouse rounded off by stating that his team also need to recognize the role of the referee is getting tighter.
 
"I think we have a good squad so it is about minimizing mistakes, stupid mistakes like yellow cards and penalties," the coach concluded.
 
"Especially with the referees now, they are very harsh on discipline so we need to adapt to that quickly."
 
The Pumas face the Sharks on Saturday in their first game away from the Mbombela Stadium - It will be the Sharks first match back in Durban.
 
By Darryn Pollock
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