CAPE TOWN – Very little should be read into the Sharks’ performance against Griquas last week. That display wasn’t the norm. It shouldn’t be expected to happen again.
That’s how Western Province coach John Dobson sees their next opposition’s 37-13 dismantling by the 2019 SuperSport Challenge champions in their Currie Cup opener in Durban.
Knowing full well the importance of every match in the single-round competition, the Sharks will be fuelled by desperation at Jonsson Kings Park tomorrow (kick-off 2pm).
As determined and dangerous as such a heavy defeat can make a team, WP also have a few points to prove.
“That performance against Griquas was in the wet, it was an aberration. They’ll be nothing like that this week,” Dobson said at his team announcement.
“I think it’s going to be like last year’s Currie Cup final in terms of intensity. They’re in trouble if they lose two in a row at home, so their desperation we can’t underestimate. We’re going for a home final, so this is a vital game for us.”
Prior to their 20-5 win against the Blue Bulls, Dobson was justifiably pleased with his team’s scrumming performance, but it’s their attack he flagged and he reiterated those sentiments yesterday.
“Our attack is largely a product of how fast we can generate ball at the breakdown. That’s where I thought we were really poor last week and I’m responsible for the breakdown. We over-committed numbers and we didn’t clean. I thought the Bulls were markedly more physical than us at the breakdown; we didn’t steal anything.
“If the guys are getting really slow ball and over-committing at the breakdown then it’s hard for them to attack.
“So we need to generate faster ball and be much more aggressive at the breakdown. We also don’t think we were as physical as we could have been last week.”
The Sharks have made only one change, with Rhyno Smith replacing young sensation Aphelele Fassi at fullback, while WP also opted for consistency, with JD Schickerling the only change to the starting XV.
Schickerling comes into the starting line-up at blindside flank, with Ernst van Rhyn shifting to openside and Jaco Coetzee at No 8 in place of the injured Juarno Augustus. David Meihuizen takes up Schickerling’s place among the replacements.
Augustus is expected to be sidelined for three to four weeks with a bicep injury (not the same one he picked up during Super Rugby), while Sikhumbuzo Nothse, who came on last week after recovering from injury, will be eased in off the bench.
Dobson added that there’ll be no shortage of fire in the Round 2 game.
“We know when the Sharks play us there’s a lot of emotion from them. We’ve seen some crazy results over the last five or so years where we spoil their party in Durban and they spoil ours in Cape Town... we won in Durban this year and they beat us in the quarter-final. Over the last few years they’ve probably won more here and we’ve probably won more there, which is crazy.
“For some reason there’s always a lot of emotion and a lot of in-your-face stuff between us. You can’t have a team of that quality and not bounce back; they’ll be desperate and a lot angrier this week.”
15 SP Marais, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 7 JD Schickerling, 6 Ernst van Rhyn, 5 Chris van Zyl (capt), 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Corne Fourie
Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 David Meihuizen, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Josh Stander, 23 Craig Barry