Discipline key for Sharks and Bulls in Rainbow Cup SA clash at Loftus
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DURBAN – The outcome of Saturday’s Rainbow Cup clash between the Bulls and the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld could well come down to which team best rectifies their woeful discipline.
It is ironic that the two unbeaten teams in the competition have conceded the most penalties, and while both have been winning their games, it has been by close margins and they could have been emphatically putting their opposition away had they not gifted so much possession by way of penalties.
“The Bulls gave away 20 penalties at the weekend against the Stormers, and we were penalised 19 times against the Lions,” Sharks coach Sean Everitt said. “So both teams are looking to tidy that up a bit.
“We gave away penalties all around the field but the biggest issue for us was the defensive breakdown where the guys were going off their feet or flopping over, or the tackler did not roll away,” Everitt explained.
The coach said that the focus in training this week had been on the players making better decisions at the breakdowns.
“We also gave away a few penalties in our maul stoppages but when you are stopping 14 mauls in a game because you have given away so many penalties, that tends to happen.”
The Sharks have given the perception that they have played superb rugby in patches, only to go off the boil and let the opposition back into the game, but Everitt said it was not a case of the players taking the foot off the pedal.
“There is no slacking in energy or effort from the guys — it is the penalty count that makes it look like we have taken the foot off the gas,” the coach explained.
“To give you an example, just after half time against the Lions, when we were wanting to put the nail into their coffin, we conceded five penalties in quick succession, and two cards, so the whole tempo of the game changes because you have to slow things down to buy time until you get the guys back on the field.
“Then we started conceding maul penalties on top of those initial five — we gave 11 penalties in total in the second half — so it becomes a stop-start affair, and we as a team want to play quickly and push the ball-in-play time to the limit.”
Everitt has again made minimal changes to his match 23 for this match. He has used almost an identical squad in the three matches so far, and this week his solitary change is at scrum-half where concussed Grant Williams is replaced by Jaden Hendrikse and Sanele Nohamba replaces him on the bench.
Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Jeremy Ward, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Fez Mbatha, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Le Roux Roets, 20 Phepsi Buthelezi, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Werner Kok.