Kicking game worked for Sharks
Durban - Sharks assistant coach Sean Everitt cited their kicking game against the Cheetahs last weekend as playing an important role in their victory.
The Sharks won 27-10 at Free State Stadium to gain revenge for their Round 1 loss to the men from Bloemfontein.
The statistics don’t lie and they don’t always paint the full picture either; but, in essence, they can be illuminating when seeking certain truths, especially on the rugby field.
Often, teams who win are penalised more often than the losers, or they might kick more and play less.
It is the latter statistic that Everitt pointed to in citing one of the reasons for his team’s success.
“With the ball we had, and the fact we didn’t want to play too much rugby in our own half because we were punished when we did that in the first round match, it was part of our strategy to kick quite a bit,” Everitt told Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick.
“But we won that kicking battle I felt, territory counts for a lot.”
In essence, it’s all about playing with circumspect: when it’s on, go for it. But when it’s not, the risk isn’t worth the punishment it might have.
“If you look at the stats, teams are losing games when they are playing too much rugby in their own half or not in the right areas of the field. So we want to get that right and ensure we take our opportunities when they arise.”
One of the players most responsible for implementing the kicking game is Pat Lambie, and he is proving to be one of the form No 10s in the competition.
“Pat is on top of his game, he’s fighting for that spot to go the World Cup as the number one flyhalf. We’re very happy with how he’s going and his game management has been outstanding, and obviously with the leadership role he plays, he just keeps getting better and better.”
Although the kicking game was a big focus for them, it doesn’t mean the Sharks are not going to play ‘in the right areas’ and as the backline gets settled, especially with the re-introduction of their two returning Springboks - Frans Steyn and JP Pietersen - they will look to be more direct on attack.
“This past weekend we wanted to go wide from set-piece, we never want to be too lateral,” Everitt explained. “We’re happy with our set-piece improvement and the way the backs went this past weekend.
“And that combination takes a while to develop; last year JP played on the wing. So with JP and Frans coming together it will take a bit of time, but they will definitely get better with more continuity.”
The Sharks host the Chiefs at Kings park this Saturday (19:10 kick-off).