Coming off a 12-6 win over the Stormers in Durban this past Saturday, the Sharks will turn their attention to the Southern Kings for their first Super Rugby meeting at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth this coming weekend.
These two teams played each other in a pre-season friendly at the same venue last year, where the Sharks won 38-13. The Southern Kings who recorded a 22-10 first round win over the Force a fortnight ago will be overflowing with confidence, especially with that first win under their belt and also knowing they have a strong crowd behind them.
Focusing on the game at hand Andries Strauss said: “As a team we have set ourselves goals, and winning one game doesn’t mean we’ve really achieved anything yet. There is a big onus on us to improve on that and if we want to win more games in this competition then we are going to have to improve on that.
“There is no better way than to take on a side with fifteen Springboks and showing the world once again that we can play this game,” he said.
Even with players like Bismarck Du Plessis, Keegan Daniel and Willem Alberts injured the Sharks can still boast with probably the strongest pack in the competition. Strong ball carriers in Craig Burden, Jean Deysel, Marcell Coetzee and Tendai Mtawarira. Coetzee is just as useful in open play with Ryan Kankowski and Jacques Botes coming off the bench to finish it off.
Southern Kings head coach Matt Sexton, said they are expecting the game to be quite physical, with the Sharks most likely to be looking at wearing down the Southern Kings at the scrum.
“We will definitely be looking at improving our level of ball retention. If you consider that during the Western Force game we made in excess of a hundred tackles in the first half of the game, which, if you have to take those sort of statistics into every game, sooner or later you’re going to run out of petrol, so we want to make sure we retrieve the ball and hold onto it,” he said.
The Sharks have strong ball carriers and will run it at you the whole game, they have had much success in the past to keep the ball close to the forwards and driving it up the middle or at line out time close to the try line. The Southern Kings forwards showed some strong and much improved play from what we have seen in their warm up games, solid on defence, they looked good at scrum and line out time and retained their ball in the tackle situation.
Former Sharks player, Steven Sykes, who also takes to the field in his second game for the Southern Kings, said he was looking forward to playing against his former team-mates.
“I think the people will treat us with a bit more respect than what they had before the season. I think we did very well in the first game that we played and we showed that we are here and we are here to stay. I don’t think people will send their second string sides down to us, so it’s a nice challenge for us as well.”
Another strong area in the Sharks game is their backline, but also an area not being use to its full potential, with game breakers from scrum half Cobus Reinach to fullback Louis Ludik. Sharks can definitely make more use of their outside backs, Paul Jordaan, Lwazi Mvovo, JP Petersen and Ludik.
Southern Kings back three defended well. against the Force and a dream Man of the man début for Sergeal Petersen but still very much untested at this level, and a surprise in the way the Sharks play on Saturday and test Sergeal Petersen and Marcello Sampson on defence and give SP Marais some high balls to field could be a wiser form of attack then to try and wear them out with their forwards.Tweet