Nothing synthetic about the Sharks’ confidence to tackle Cardiff on 4G pitches
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Durban - “There is definitely a different vibe in the squad after that win,” said scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar yesterday, “but for all of us right now it is about preparing well, getting confidence out of that and putting it into place on Saturday.”
The former Springbok was, of course, referring to the Sharks’ important 27-13 win over the Ospreys last weekend – their first of the United Rugby Championship (URC), and a victory that could leave them in good stead as they prepare to face another Welsh franchise in the Cardiff Rugby this weekend.
For Pienaar and Co, their triumph on the synthetic pitch of Liberty Stadium in Swansea was the culmination of learning from two tough defeats in the opening rounds of the tournament against Munster and Glasgow, applying what was learnt and then executing it.
Said Pienaar: “The Munster game was always going to be a massive learning curve.
“Munster is a really good team and it was a tough introduction into the URC for this young group.
“Our discipline probably let us down quite a bit; we made a few costly errors that sort of just took the game away from us.
“Slowly, we have started to get better at those points. Our discipline in the last two games has been really good.
“Against Glasgow there were one or two things that if we did better, it could have been a different ball game, and I think we sort of manage to change that around for the game against the Ospreys.
“We managed the game well, we played in the right areas, the discipline was really good, and we took our chances.
“You have got to find your feet and adapt to the way the referees blow, and the way they play. The guys have responded well and hopefully we can see more of that this weekend.”
With that monkey finally off of their back, and with their confidence discovered, the Sharks can now wholly turn their attention to Cardiff in the hopes of repeating the feat.
And Pienaar was unafraid to give his insights into an opposition that will be desperate to end their twomatch losing streak.
Once again the conditions will play their part, as will the 4G pitch at Cardiff Arms Park, but with the knowledge of how to win now gleaned from their previous games, Pienaar also disclosed the plan of action to claim a second victory in their last away game on this particular tour.
“They (Cardiff) will be disappointed; they have had two losses on the bounce now,” said Pienaar.
“They felt in control in the first half against the Bulls (a 29-19 victory for the men from Pretoria) and they will be disappointed with that second half performance.
“It is a good Cardiff team that they’ve got, with a lot of international players. They’ve got a dangerous backline and if you give them time on the ball and let them get momentum, let them play with pace and determine the tempo of the game, then it will be a tough challenge.
“You have got to be clinical, you have got to be really accurate in what you do. It is a lot faster, the tempo is a lot higher, so defensively you have to be on point otherwise they can hurt you.
“If we are accurate, and we look after the ball on attack, then it will be tough to defend on those pitches.”