Sharks' Lwazi Mvovo scores a try. Photo: Jeremy Lee/Reuters
DURBAN - The Sharks will meet fire with fire when it comes to the Stormers’ adventurous approach to Super Rugby this season and will be aiming to not only match the Capetonians try for try but aim to go one or two further.

That, funnily enough, was the positive words from the Sharks’ defence coach, although Ryan Strudwick adds that the Sharks’ coaching staff have gone to school on how the New Zealand teams dismantled the Stormers’ attack on their recent unfortunate tour.

“We scored six tries against the Sunwolves and the guys very much enjoyed getting across the try-line, something we have been trying hard to do all season,” Strudwick said. “It is not just the Stormers that want to play attacking rugby. These days I think everybody wants to attack.”

However you look at it, the Sharks will not have a defensive mindset against the Stormers. They want to win each of their home stretch of games against the Stormers, Bulls and Lions to give themselves the best possible finish on the log - and the least travel time.

But all of this is way ahead of the task at hand for the Sharks this week, and Strudwick said he had picked up some useful pointers from the Kiwi teams that smacked the Stormers.

“Everybody knows that they have dangerous players throughout their team, especially a back three that is capable of lethal counter-attack,” the former Sharks lock of the late ‘90s said. “It is also well known that they have formidable forward ball carriers (the likes of Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Siya Kolisi).

Pieter-Steph du Toit will be one of the key Stormers players the Sharks will have to contain when the teams meet in the next round of Super Rugby. PICTURE: EPA

“And if the Stormers forwards can initiate momentum, their backs can be very dangerous, so we are focussing on stopping some of their key players to prevent them getting their attacking game going. That is exactly what the New Zealand teams did to them. They did not allow the Stormers to get momentum and they put them under pressure with their line speed. Our challenge this week is to do the same as the Kiwis did.”

Statistics

But for the Sharks, it is not just about stopping the opposition play.

“We all want to have the ball in hand, and the longer that is the case, the less defending you do and the less opportunities for the opposition to attack,” Strudwick said.

“It does not necessarily help us that we have the best tackle succession rate in the competition,” Strudwick said. “That statistic can be misleading because it does not tell you about the line-breaks that you could not defend.

Cheslin Kolbe wriggles out of a tackle against the Blues. Photo: Phando Jikelo/Independent Media

The defence coach added that the only statistic that really matters is “points for” and “points against”.

“We are still on the right side of the statistics that count - we are scoring more points that we are conceding and our try tally is increasing in the second half of the competition,” Strudwick said. “We have to hope the trend continues. The guys are thrilled with finishing against the Sunwolves with three excellent tries almost in as many minutes. It showed what we can do, and it is how you finish a game that sets the tone for how you approach the next match.”

The Mercury

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