Durban - Amongst the frustrations the Sharks felt in their match against the Kings last Saturday was how their scrum featured in the second half, after dominating so clearly prior to that.
“We conceded one penalty and one free kick in our opening two games and on the weekend conceded four in one half, it doesn’t make sense,” coach John Plumtree told Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick
“When you have a dominant scrum and don’t get reward for it, that can be frustrating.”
The Sharks have prided themselves on their scrummaging so far this season, a good pack working in unison has dominated the opposition throughout, and to do that against local opposition is no mean feat when one considers just how important the scrum is for South African teams.
So, after a strong showing in the first half, there is some consternation in the Sharks camp at how they didn’t manage to press home their advantage in the second half. Had they continued to dominate, this would have had a big impact on their momentum and ability to close out good attacking opportunities and turn them into tries.
Against the Brumbies on Saturday, the Sharks will need to be on top of their game at scrum time if they are to deliver a first defeat for the table-topping Australian Conference leaders.
“We’re pleased to have Jonathan Kaplan
refereeing this match, there are some things we’ve spotted with the Brumbies scrum that we aren’t happy with and they have been penalised for that, we’re hoping he looks after those areas designed to depower our scrum, we’re hoping they don’t get away with that this weekend,” Plumtree added.
“We know what to expect from him, we’ve had him many times. He’s a very strong ref and that’s what we want. The breakdown is an area the Brumbies have conceded lots of penalties in the last couple of games, so we need to be very accurate and hopefully he will be really strict on the breakdown and scrummaging.”
With the loss of Jean Deysel and Jacques Botes
, the Sharks will show some changes after fielding the same match-22 over the first three weeks (with just one positional switch in that time). Plumtree also hinted at other changes.
“There might be one or two changes in the backline, but our attack not functioning as we would have liked is not solely the backs’ fault,” he explained, deflecting off criticism of the backline.
“There were areas of their game that we were disappointed with and they were disappointed with themselves as well. But the forwards have some responsibility in terms of how we play on attack and they let themselves down in certain areas too.
“We have identified that and had a good training this morning but we won’t dwell on it. There are other areas of our game which are going really well. We’re back at home and looking forward to playing in front of our supporters and playing well. We’ll be looking to improve certain areas, but playing rugby at this time of year in Durban is not the easiest, there will still be some kicking.”
The clash at Kings Park kicks off at 17:05 on Saturday.