Jake concerned with attack
Christchurch - The Cell C Sharks had a great start to the competition in terms of their try-scoring exploits, including a first four try bonus point win in February, but the tap has closed somewhat lately.Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick
reports that it’s not that the Sharks have suddenly limited their attack and shifted to a defence-oriented mindset, but the tournament seems to be favouring defending sides, and it doesn’t help when injuries play such an influential role in your attacking structures.
With just 187 points conceded, they have the best record in Super Rugby so far this year and given the low-scoring game against the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday, many would have felt that the Cell C Sharks have retreated into a shell.
"Things didn’t all go our way," explained Director of Rugby Jake White
from the team’s base in Christchurch.
"We thought they would play a bit - I know them well and I know they are probably nervous at home to have a crack, it’s a whole mindset - but in fact they kicked more than we kicked which was surprising because we were going to make them play all the rugby out of their half."
But when you keep changing personnel through injury and the conditions are more conducive to exploiting mistakes which often necessitates a higher degree of kicking, the game might not prove quite as attractive as one the Cell C Sharks would have played in Durban, earlier in the season.
"We know we have to change our game, we’re the first to admit it," White added.
"I’ve only been with this team for six months.
"There is a massive difference to where we are in our progression to where the Brumbies are.
"To put it in perspective, they were finalists last year, this is the third year of their development and we’ve been together for six months, we’ve basically played together for 11 games."
However, there is no need to feel pressured given the loss.
"Despite all the disruptions and losing on the weekend, we’re still top of the log and we’re still comfortably ahead in our conference.
"So there’s a lot to be said for where we are at this stage."
During the pre-season, White declared that Pat Lambie was going to play every minute of every game at flyhalf for the team.
This was to counter any suggestion that he may play elsewhere and to give him the confidence that his coach backs him in his preferred position.
Lambie delivered, but was cruelly struck down by injury early in the fifth game of the tournament and has missed the last six matches. In that time, another three players have taken on the role.
"One of the things we had to do was back Pat at 10, but that hasn’t worked out with injury.
"We’ve had Tim Swiel and Fred Zeilinga
and Frans Steyn
playing there to, so we’ve played four flyhalves already in 11 games and that doesn’t help with the rhythm of your attack nor for cohesion in the backline at all.
"We just have to get through and kick on."