CAPE TOWN – A strong start and sustained effort is key given the short Currie Cup format, and that element will be a key focus for both Western Province and the Sharks on Saturday.
For the Sharks, though, their hapless performance against Griquas at the weekend was as far from the ideal start as Kings Park is from Newlands, and one can only expect them to come at Province hard when last year’s finalists meet in Durban on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 2pm).
For the Durbanites it will be more about getting back on track and preventing another Kings Park horror, which would slightly dent their chances of making sure that Currie Cup trophy remains in KwaZulu-Natal.
WP, on the other hand, got the job done against the Blue Bulls in Cape Town, and conceded only one try - an impressive stat given the Bulls’ backline weaponry.
Their defence was a standout on Saturday night, with their line speed showing promising signs, while their scramble defence also halted a number of the opposition’s eager runners.
Overall, it was a pleasing performance for the hosts up front, and their scrum also menaced their Bulls counterparts.
And according to WP defence coach Norman Laker, the plan is to continue refining the technique during the Currie Cup season.
“We started implementing it in Super Rugby a bit, I would have liked to take it further then, but with all the injuries we had it was quite difficult to maintain it. But now it’ll be quite nice to build on it in the Currie Cup,” Laker said yesterday.
“The Sharks will definitely bounce back this Saturday, it’s still early days, but we’re focusing on ourselves.”
With a couple of pairs of trusted boots in the Sharks line-up, Laker said it was important that they were prepared for whatever game got thrown at them in Round 2, after the Sharks tried to move the ball around quite a bit against Griquas.
“They definitely have a bigger attacking game now, but they also have some good kickers. So you have to adapt to both games.”
Even though WP are dealing with a number of injuries, they have a number of guys who can play a big role at the breakdown when it comes to poaching and slowing it down.
“There’s Juarno Augustus and Jaco Coetzee, Ernst van Rhyn has also become quite good and Scarra Ntubeni is phenomenal when it comes to that, so we can do it, we just need to train it more so that it becomes a habit.”@WynonaLouw