Jannie du Plessis (Gallo Images)
Durban - Sharks tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis wants to build on the solid foundation set up front against the Blues last week when they tackle the Bulls in Pretoria this weekend.
The Sharks website reports that the Sharks punished the Blues in the set-pieces, garnering numerous penalty opportunities in the process, to help set up a relatively comfortable victory.
"Our scrumming was evidence of the guys playing for each other," said Du Plessis.
"All eight guys in the pack really wanted to do well and I must commend all the forwards who bought into it, although it wasn’t just the scrums that won us the game."
Du Plessis realises that the task the team faces this weekend promises to be that much more intense and the 45-time capped Springbok expects a fair struggle on his hands.
"The Bulls are a side that plays so well under pressure, that’s why they are second on the log," he explained.
"Last time we tried to get one over them, but unfortunately it didn’t work out because they take the points when they’re on offer.
"Our focus will be to touch up on the discipline because we gave away a few silly penalties and try to match them in the game they play."
He acknowledged that the Bulls stick to a simple but effective game plan based around accuracy in nailing down their game plan which has brought them a lot of success.
"They don’t really differ too much in their approach, but what they do bring is world-class forward play, world-class phase play and world-class accuracy.
"Just matching them physically won’t win you the game, you’ve got to be accurate as well.
Du Plessis elaborated on the importance of the clash and their opponents' ability to soak up pressure.
"They are not second on the log for nothing, that sort of experience they’ve had in pressure situations is something they fall back on.
"The challenge for us is to be accurate and disciplined.
"The Bulls do play a very physical game, but they are a finished product and they don’t just bring that to the table.
"They are very accurate and can handle playing under pressure - they have been under pressure at times this season, but they’ve still managed to come out on tops.
"The Blues look to play more off turn-overs, whereas you can expect a territory-based game from the Bulls and they will try to suffocate and strangle you.
"I think our biggest challenge this week is to handle the pressure they are going to put us under."
He also raised the subject of when the tournament is won and lost, emphasising that it’s not so much how you start, but how you end the competition that really counts.
"What I’ve learnt in Super Rugby is that the competition is not won in the first 10 weeks, it’s won in the last five weeks.
"Some might have thought that we’d be out of it by now because of some disappointing results that we’ve had, and we have felt that we’ve underachieved.
"But there is still a flicker of hope and this is effectively a knockout game.
"The Bulls will want to win because they want home ground advantage in the play-offs, which they’ve worked the whole season for.
"But we are playing for our own survival, so the 22 guys that go up to Pretoria will play to keep that flicker of hope alive."