Sharks coach John Plumtree says improving their defence will be a massive focus this week and on Saturday when they face the Reds in Brisbane.
Craig Lewis writes for the Daily News that If there is anything the Sharks have been guilty of so far this season, it is perhaps missing a few too many tackles, while also taking poor defensive options by occasionally trying to run the ball from their line.
“We are down on our defence statistics and it is something that we are concerned about,” Plumtree admitted. “We pride ourselves on our defence, but the quality is just not there yet. I guess the Chiefs and Blues are two teams that have really tested us in this regard, but we do need to improve. We don’t want to have to score six tries to win a match. Another incentive is that it’s often a case of if your defence works well, so does your attack.”
The Reds do play an entertaining brand of rugby and of all the sides in the bottom half of the table, they are the only team to have their try-scoring tally in double figures.
Nevertheless, the Sharks will head into this match as favourites and a win would be their fifth in a row this season, marking a successful completion of the first phase of their Super 14 campaign.
“We’ve broken our season up into groups of five matches and after this weekend that will be the end of the first part, so it’s really important for us to end on a high note,” Plumtree explained.
The Sharks mentor will not be making many changes to the team at the weekend, Jannie du Plessis – who is carrying an injury niggle – is set to be rested and John Smit will come into the starting line-up at tighthead prop.
On the bench, fit-again Albert van den Berg will take the place of Alistair Hargreaves, who suffered a tour-ending ankle injury over the weekend. Former South African Under 19 representative Johan Snyman is jetting over to Australia to provide further second row cover.
However, Van den Berg’s return to fitness is great timing for the Sharks, who had their depth tested this past weekend, with Keegan Daniel replacing the injured Jean Deysel – who will be out for four to six weeks.
“Keegan gives us something different to Jean and I was really pleased with the way he slotted in this past weekend,” Plumtree said. “We missed Jean’s intensity at the breakdown but Keegan makes up for it in other areas and is a different kind of threat. He was my man of the match.”Tweet