The Sharks have powered their way to three successive victories in the Super 14 on the back of a vastly improved pack of forwards. They need to stick to this formula in order to claim five points against the Lions on Saturday.
With the Sharks’ slim semi-final prospects now hanging by a thread, a bonus-point victory is a non-negotiable requirement from each one of their remaining five games. Against the Bulls away and Stormers at home, that is not going to be an easy feat, but the Lions have conceded about 150 tries already this season and the Sharks would really have to play pretty poorly, one would think, to avoid putting at least 4 more past them.
That’s just the thing, though… the Sharks have only scored 12 tries so far in 8 starts, hardly the sort of statistic to fill us fans with confidence that they simply need to rock up to collect the points. The Lions, on the other hand, have scored easily twice as many and have shown an ability (and propensity) to attack from anywhere. Hell, if only they could be bothered to tackle occasionally they might actually win a game or two!
There’s a pretty stark warning here,though, for John Plumtree and his team; don’t let the game get loose and don’t allow the Lions to run at you. They are tactically vulnerable and defensively weak pretty much all over the park, but the one thing they do not battle to do is fashion line breaks, ironically the one aspect of he Sharks defensive record that has been patchy at best this season. The key to beating the Lions is to starve them of ball, keep them out of the game and suffocate them with relentless pressure – in their own half. The Sharks have the pack to keep doing this all night and with Jean Deysel and Willem Alberts working in tandem as ball-carrying options, they can make huge inroads against a Lions team that simply will not have either the firepower or the will to stop them at close quarters. Keep the pressure on, keep kicking the penalties, winning the scrums and making ground from the driving mauls and the resistance will crumble and the tries will come on their own.
Try to get fancy by throwing the ball around and we’ll very quickly find out which back division is more dangerous. It won’t be the one wearing black…Tweet