Jimmy's recipe: Set-piece pressure
INTERVIEW: The Pumas are determined to prove they belong among the premier teams in South Africa when they take on the Sharks.
The Pumas are determined to prove they belong among the premier teams in South Africa when they take on the defending champion Sharks in Nelspruit on Friday.
Having recorded two great wins at the Mbombela Stadium - 28-21 against the Free State Cheetahs and 33-15 over Griquas, with a 17-34 loss to the unbeaten Sharks in Durban sandwiched in between - the men from Mpumalanga feel they could cause an upset.
And they plan to do it by using the set pieces to pile the pressure on the visitors.
"We are always positive and we are looking forward to Friday to see how we will compete against a team with the qualities the Sharks have," Stonehouse told rugby365 in an interview ahead of the Round Four Currie Cup encounter.
"We are excited to measure ourselves here [in Nelspruit]," he said, adding: "It is always tougher for us to play away, but we are better at home.
"We are looking forward to the [contest in the] scrum. We are looking forward to the line-outs, to fix [the aspect] where we struggled quite a bit the previous encounter [with the Sharks]."
While the Pumas have not been a dominant force in the scrums, they are certainly not too bad.
"We are looking to build on our scrums, as that is an aspect we pay a lot of attention to," the Pumas mentor said.
"We hope it is an aspect of the game where we can put some pressure on them. They did scrum very well against the Cheetahs and they have a very good set of forwards, so it will be a tough contest."
While the Pumas look to play a "total game", they have paid a lot of attention to their line-outs this week, as that is an aspect in which they struggled in some games.
"We also worked on stopping their mauls from line-outs," Stonehouse told rugby365, adding: "They gave us a good hiding in that aspect the last time. We will also look to use the mauls, as that is also a good aspect of our game.
"Those are two aspects we feel we can have an influence in this game."
The Pumas coach said that despite people writing off Sharks fullback SP Marais, because of his form, he remains a player that can kick the ball long distances and can get them out of trouble.
"They also have a very good backline. Our defence will have to be spot on.
"One of their strengths is the way they move the ball down the backline.
"Then there is [flank Jacques] Botes, who also does a lot of good work close in and [No.8 Lubabalo] Mtembu, who has the ability to get across the advantage line.
"They also use [hooker] Kyle Cooper to take the ball up a lot, from line-outs and scrums after the first pod [of forwards].
"Those three, Botes, Mtembu and Cooper are very good ball carriers."
By Jan de Koning