FILE - Manie Libbok of the Sharks during the PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA. Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images via BackpagePix
FILE - Manie Libbok of the Sharks during the PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA. Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images via BackpagePix

Sharks must start well against Griquas to avoid an arduous task in Currie Cup opener

By Mike Greenaway Time of article published Jun 19, 2021

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DURBAN - Last night in their hotel in Kimberley, the Sharks will have watched the television broadcast of the Pumas pummelling the Lions 39-10 in what was a perfect reminder of what they have to get right today against Griquas (1.30 pm kick-off).

For bigger unions travelling to the small fry, it has long been an unwritten rule that you have to hit the ground running, immediately snuff out the home challenge and — whatever you do — don’t let them get their tails up.

In other words, start well to avoid a long day of arduous toil, but you also have to actually put points on the board.

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The Lions got it half right in that they dominated the first 30 minutes or so but they didn’t cash in and put the Pumas away on the scoreboard, and the longer the Pumas kept their visitors out, so belief swelled in their chests.

A number of previous Sharks team visiting Kimberley have been where the Lions were last night. They wrote the above-mentioned rule in sweat and tears and then boarded the charter flight back to Durban with Currie Cup log points left hanging in the frosty air of the diamond fields.

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It grew to a point where Griquas chose the Sharks as their giant-killing act for the year, summoning their best performance, but now the other side of the coin is that they won’t catch the Sharks napping again, and certainly not after the illustration at the Mbombela Stadium last night.

Midway through 2019, Sean Everitt was two weeks into the job after having succeeded Robert du Preez when Griquas came to the Shark Tank, coached by Brent Janse van Vuuren. A couple of things have happened since the Sharks lost despairingly that day: the Sharks rapidly improved after that rushed start under Everitt; Janse van Vuuren is now Everitt’s forwards coach, and the Sharks never, ever underestimate Griquas, plus they know exactly how to play them.

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In fact, I believe this correctly-focused Sharks team will bury Griquas in their Big Hole today.

“We must go there and squeeze them into a corner and not give them opportunities because that is when they are dangerous,” Everitt cautioned. “You can’t allow the game to get loose because they have a physical pack of forwards who grow a foot taller when they sniff blood, and they have hungry players desperate to impress so they can get contracts elsewhere ....So they will come for us.”

Not long ago there was a match in Kimberley where Everitt came within a late Curwin Bosch penalty of losing to Griquas for a second time, and again he has learned from that.

“That game where Curwin saved the day ... we made individual errors that gave them energy, and we struggled in the set-piece, and next thing they had momentum and belief they could win,” Everitt recalled. “We must squeeze them, give them nothing, and take our opportunities with both hands.

“They are confident they can turn us over because they have done it before, although in the last two games between us we have performed really well, and that is because we don’t take them for granted.”

Sharks: 15 Manie Libbok 14 Werner Kok 13 Jeremy Ward 12 Marius Louw 11 Anthony Volmink 10 Boeta Chamberlain 9 Jaden Henrdrikse 8 Phepsi Buthelezi 7 Thembelani Bholi 6 James Venter 5 Hyron Andrews 4 Ruben van Heerden 3 Khutha Mchunu 2 Fez Mbatha 1 Khwezi Mona

Substitutes: Kerron van Vuuren, Mzamo Majola, Wiehahn Herbst, JJ van der Mescht, Reniel Hugo, Mpilo Gumede, Grant Williams, Marnus Potgieter

Griquas: 15 Masixole Banda 14 Daniel Kasende 13 Ederies Arendsa 12 Andre Swarts 11 Eduan Keyter 10 George Whitehead 9 Stefan Ungerer 8 Ruan Steenkamp (capt) 7 Sibabola Qoma 6 Gideon van der Merwe 5 Cameron Lindsay 4 Mzwanele Zito 3 Andries Schutte 2 Janco Uys 1 Andrew Beerwinkle

Substitutes: Tiaan van der Merwe, Andrew Kuhn, Ewald van der Westhuizen, Jeandre Leonard, Hanru Sirgel, Raegan Oranje, Theo Boshoff, Christopher Hollis

IOL Sport

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