Western Province beat the Sharks to Currie Cup glory last Saturday, outplaying the home favourites to take their first title in 11 years. Even though WP played the better game on the day and looked to have wanted the win more than the Sharks, it is at lineout time that the Sharks lost the contest.
The game started well for the men from Durban, racing into a 9 point lead with all the basics going well – they were dominant in the scrums and the lineouts were functioning. This is when WP took a step up and took away our lineout ball. This seemed to play heavily on the Sharks’ minds, as they didn’t want the ball to go out of play.
Both Craig Burden and Steven Sykes were reportedly included in the starting line-up to get the lineouts working properly, a tactic which did not work at the end of the day.
Now, I am no lineout specialist, but what I do know is that for a lineout to work, simply working at it at training is not sufficient, and that the lineout can only really be tested during a match, or perfected in a match environment.
The fact that Burden and Sykes were both new to the starting lineup, and the fact that neither player has been part of the setup in a match situation for some time, hindered that process. To put into perspective, Burden only played in the first week of Currie Cup action before he was called up to the Springbok squad to hold tackle bags for two months. Steven Sykes was injured and never even looked like getting back into the team before his move to the Kings.
So why exactly our coached thought that this untested combination would suddenly fix our broken lineout is a bit of a mystery.
The best bet would have been to keep the combination that outplayed the Bulls lineout and let them work on making their play perfect. This combination of Kyle Cooper, Jandre Marais and Anton Bresler was simply not allowed the chance to prove they have what it takes to correct their own mistakes, and a chance was taken that did not pay off.
One cannot blame John Plumtree for trying to make the change that should have corrected the basic principle which cost us the game, some of the blame surely rests on the players’ shoulders for not getting it right in a match situation, while the Springbok squad system surely has to be mentioned after Craig Burden missed the entire Currie Cup for no reason at all.
Is it sour grapes? Maybe a little. But the fact that our coaches got it so wrong for one of the most important matches of the year disappoints me tremendously, and somewhere along the line someone has to take responsibility. A forwards coach or lineout specialist worth his salt would have prevented this from happening in the first place.Tweet