Performances so far this season indicate that the try-scoring ability of the Cheetahs and the solid defence of the Sharks will be the main characteristics of the Super 14 rugby match in Durban on Saturday.
But the Sharks have other ideas. They want to do the try scoring this week.
Liam Del Carme writes in Beeld that they know all too well they need victories and bonus points in their last two league matches as they chase a place in the knockout phase.
“We realise we have to score tries,” assistant coach Grant Bashford said on Monday.
“We have to collect five points in each of our remaining two matches to remain in contention for the semi-finals. We know what to do. Four points on Saturday won’t be enough.”
Bashford feels the Sharks will have to carry the ball for most of the match to extend their semi-final hopes for at least another week.
However, he also realises the 2007 finalists cannot afford to make mistakes as they plot an attacking approach.
“We will have to be extremely precise in whatever we do. We must be 100% accurate in our execution; we will have to be very clever.
Inability to finish attacking moves
“It’s not as if we have not been trying to score tries. But now we are compelled to do so,” Bashford said.
Their inability to finish attacking moves is exactly the reason that the Sharks find themselves in this predicament.
To make matters even more difficult, their preparations are hampered by uncertainty about the fitness of captain Johann Muller and hooker Bismarck du Plessis.
Muller, who battled with a calf muscle injury on the team’s tour of Australasia, was forced to leave the field during the match against the Crusaders. Du Plessis picked up a chest injury and he was not even considered for the match in Christchurch.
“Johann and Bismarck have both been sent for scans. We still don’t know whether they will be available for Saturday,” Bashford revealed.
However, he is optimistic that lock forward Steven Sykes will be fit enough to be considered. Centre Brad Barritt has also recovered from his shoulder injury.
“Steven trained with the squad today (Monday) and he looks ready,” Bashford said. “And it seems Brad can also be considered.”
If Barritt plays, the Sharks will have the opportunity to select Francois Steyn at flyhalf and Ruan Pienaar at scrumhalf. But the selectors are wary of making changes.
“To move Francois to flyhalf may be unnecessary. Ruan played well against the Crusaders. We felt he did well on attack. But we have not discussed the composition of the team,” Bashford said.
The possible return of Du Plessis may be the only change to the pack.Tweet