Brumbies challenge excites Sharks
Canberra - Sharks loose-forward Philip van der Walt is excited for the challenge that the Brumbies pose for their week two Super Rugby clash on Saturday, having learned from their opening match defeat against the Reds.
“We didn’t control the game as well as we could have, and the reason for that was letting them off the hook,” Van der Walt told the Sharks’ official website from Australia. “We’d put pressure on them and then through discipline or errors, we’d give them the opportunity to attack, rather than defend. That starved us of ball possession.”
He admitted that the loss was more a case of “our own doing” which indicates that the Sharks have more to offer than the result of the first game of the 2017 campaign.
The Brumbies will pose a great threat, but there is a steeliness to Sharks that is focused on victory.
There was a strong forward and defensive effort which is something they hope to continue, this weekend and beyond. There is a good mix up front and they pride themselves on being able to pressurise the opposition.
“We feel that we have a good work-rate, we are pretty keen on making our tackles, and in particular players working back on defence after the line had been cut to scramble and stop them. But we’re not the finished product and we’ve put in a lot of work ahead of the Brumbies game,” he explained.
He felt that the energy was there and that they were working well on the technical side of defence.
Saturday’s clash with the Brumbies is the Sharks’ second on tour and gives them the opportunity to grow from the Reds game where Van der Walt said: “We felt in charge of the scoreboard and didn’t feel pressured.”
Importantly, first game jitters are now out of the way.
“I wouldn’t say there was rustiness in the Reds game, but we’re a young team and perhaps there was some over-eagerness and stress. I know we can sort it out for the Brumbies and there’s a good vibe in the camp.
“The guys are positive and hopefully it will pay dividends. We don’t want to be afraid to play, although we need to play smart rugby.”
The Brumbies lost narrowly to the Crusaders, going down 17-13 in Christchurch and offer a stern challenge which the Sharks will need to counter, but with the added focus of coming away on the right side of the scoreboard.
“They have a steady, solid set-piece where we are going to have to compete,” he explained of the strengths of the forward pack.
“The set-piece is very important and the foundation of any phase, so if we can put pressure on them there, it sets the game up.
“They have very strong ball-carriers and they are organised, they do this well. They know what they are doing, it’s like a well-oiled machine. That’s their biggest threat.
“But we’re looking forward to this game, we’re very excited.”