Sharks shift focus to scrums

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 10:32
Large robert du preez senior 800

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Sharks head coach Robert du Preez admits that his team's scrum was in a shambles during their 30-38 defeat to the Free State Cheetahs last week.

The Sharks started their Currie Cup campaign in noteworthy fashion, but that quickly took a turn for the worst as the side from Durban suffered two consecutive defeats against Western Province in Cape Town and then against the Cheetahs in Durban.

However, Du Preez believes he has spotted the faults and feels that his side will put on a much better performance in their crucial encounter against the resilient Eastern Province Kings this weekend.

"After what happened to our scrum during the match against Cheetahs it has really become our focus for this week. We did learn a lot from last week and we feel confident in our set pieces, especially our scrum," Du Preez said.

"The match against the EP Kings is a very important game. We know what EP have done to the Bulls up in Loftus - that game was up in the air up until the end – so we are not taking them lightly.

"Despite what EP Kings challenges as a Union the group of players are really passionate. They have a great coach [Barend Pieterse] so it is going to be tough match,"

The return of Springbok flyhalf Patrick Lambie has cast some good fortunes over the Sharks camp and the 25-year-old could be pivotal on Saturday.

"[Lambie] is ready to go. He has had a great two weeks and we are very pleased that he is back - not only for us but for him. He will cover [the flyhalf position] and will definitely get some game time on Saturday," Du Preez added.  

The Sharks have been struggling with injuries in recently. They have lost the services of senior players like Keegan Daniels, Philip van der Walt and Odwa Ndungane, which left a lot of responsibility with some of the younger players in the squad.

"It is not easy losing most of the senior players and leaders in the beginning of a match [against the Cheetahs] and I think we didn't step up to the plate," said Sharks lock Ruan Botha.  

"Last week was a learning experience for the young guys in the team. The Cheetahs scored 21 points from our own mistakes like knock-ons or holding onto the ball

"If we look at all the games we have lost we fell into that trap of playing their kind of rugby, so for this week we have to focus on our game and achieve our goals that we have set."

Botha was part of the tight five whose scrum crumbled under pressure against the Cheetahs.

"As part of the tight five it was an embarrassing performance last week against the Cheetahs, and you just have to look at yourself, take the hit on the chin and move on from that and just work harder.

"A lot of people look at us and say we are quite a young pack, but if you look at how the individual players performed in Super Rugby, we can see that there is experience in the pack. We just have to focus on our own strengths," he added.

@rugby365com

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Fri, 30 September 2016
Golden Lions v Sharks 15h00 Johannesburg
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Team P W D L Pts
Free State Cheetahs 7 7 0 0 34
Blue Bulls 8 6 0 2 30
Sharks 7 5 0 2 25
Western Province 7 4 0 3 23
Golden Lions 7 4 0 3 22
Griquas 7 4 0 3 20
Boland 7 2 0 5 9
Pumas 7 0 0 7 5
EP Kings 7 0 0 7 1