For the Sharks to stand any chance of prevailing in Christchurch tomorrow, we will need to see 80 minutes of the same game plan that was employed against the Hurricanes in the first half.
The prediction for Friday night in Christchurch seems to indicate wet weather. This may well play into the Sharks hands, as any help in limiting the Crusaders’ free-flowing game will be invaluable.
The Sharks have the pack to dominate the Crusaders, even without Bismarck du Plessis in the mix. Craig Burden has a huge job on his shoulders, but the youngster has the heart (and dare I say the guile?) to make up for what we lose in sheer physicality and aggression by not having the “Bethlehem Bakleier” in the mix. All eight of the guys who will start have spent enough time under Plumtree’s coaching by now to know how to approach a game like this. Retention will be crucial, as will effectiveness and commitment at the breakdowns. No more standing back and watching can be tolerated; we need every forward hitting every ruck to ensure our ball stays ours and that any they get isn’t worth much due to how slowly it comes back.
As for the backs, well, that’s where it gets more difficult. We need our fancy boys to focus on keeping the errors down and helping each other out. In a team full of talented individualists, we need a collective performance, pretty much for the first time this season. In Kockott, Pienaar, Steyn and Pietersen we have a core of players who are playing primarily for themselves and it shows. What we need is for each man to play his part in a structured game plan; aimed at ball retention and sensible tactical kicking. Against the Hurricanes, we showed that we have the personnel to play the percentages, to ensure that the kicks find touch and to keep the pressure on the opposition by playing in their half.
Problem is, we only did it for 40 minutes against the Canes. We’ll need 85 minutes or more of the same committed play to take the Crusaders. Even then, a fair bit of a luck and a referee who knows what he’s doing will have to play their part.
If the Sharks can pull this one off, it will stand up as one of the greatest victories of all time.Tweet