DURBAN – The Sharks are preparing for their trip to Nelspruit to play the Pumas extremely mindful that have to hit the ground running after their bye last week.
The Sharks lost to Griquas in round one, bounced back strongly to beat Western Province but last week had a break and there is a worry that they might have lost impetus.
Assistant coach Nick Easter yesterday said that so many teams get undone after a bye because it takes them a while to get going in their first game back.
“This week is very important for us having not played at the weekend,” he said.
“A week off is big in any competition. You see it in Super Rugby with so many sides struggling to hit their straps after a bye so we have to make sure we get the coaching right this week and put the guys under pressure in training so when they go up to a difficult place to play (Nelspruit), they are not shocked by it.”
The Pumas have lost their three games but by small margins and they were in a position to beat Griquas, the Bulls and the Lions in those defeats.
“I thought they were arguably the better side in their match against the Lions and their Griquas game could have gone either way,” Easter said.
“They remain a well-organised, well-drilled side; they have an excellent set-piece, and they are actually playing high speed rugby now. They have brought intensity to what they are doing on attack and defence.”
Easter points out that so far in the Currie Cup, the Pumas - coached by Jimmy Stonehouse - have conceded less points in the opening 20 minutes of matches than any other side.
“How a team plays in the opening quarter tells you a lot about them,” he said. “Whatever the Pumas bring in that first 20 is obviously very effective. If a team has its mindset right, as they clearly do because they are so competitive in the opening and closing quarters, it allows them to concentrate on tactics.
That’s what makes the Pumas such a dangerous side.”@MikeGreenaway67