The game of the weekend in Super Rugby’s South African Conference is surely at Jonsson Kings Park, where the Sharks host the Jaguares today. Photo: Joe Allison/www.Photosport.nz
The game of the weekend in Super Rugby’s South African Conference is surely at Jonsson Kings Park, where the Sharks host the Jaguares today. Photo: Joe Allison/www.Photosport.nz

How Sharks can beat the Jaguares

By Mike Greenaway Time of article published Mar 7, 2020

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The game of the weekend in Super Rugby’s South African Conference is surely at Jonsson Kings Park, where the Sharks host the Jaguares today (3.05pm kick-off).

Mike Greenaway looks at ways the Sharks can put the bite into the Argentineans.

More of the same

The Sharks are playing in Durban for the first time since they beat the Bulls on January 31, in round one. The conditions were clammy and the game was consequently something of an arm wrestle.

The Sharks travelled overseas, where conditions were more conducive to the open game that they relish.

They finished their tour in Brisbane where, interestingly, coach Sean Everitt said the humidity was akin to Durban, yet the Sharks felt confident enough to move the ball when they could.

So, despite the humidity still lurking in March in KwaZulu-Natal, the Sharks need to deliver more of the same attacking rugby, without being foolish - the ball will be slippery. Everitt said that the Sharks won’t go into their shells, and that is bad news for the Jaguares.

Cash in on Kings Park

Part of the Sharks’ mission statement under CFO Eduard Coetzee and coach Everitt is to turn Jonsson Kings Park into the fortress it once was.

They have lost their last three games when hosting sides from outside South Africa, this after going unbeaten in 13 such games before that.

Further, the Jaguares have won three of their last four meetings with the Sharks, this after losing each of the initial four clashes between the sides.

Included in that run of victories is the 51-17 pounding the Sharks were given at Kings Park last year.

But things have changed at the Shark Tank. A number of improvements have been made to the match-day experience for spectators and the fans sense that something special is brewing.

The Sharks need to feed on that support.

Tighten up discipline

The Sharks’ discipline has been an Achilles heel this season and they are lucky that so far it has not cost them a game.

It should have when you consider they can’t get their penalty count down to single figures, which is considered acceptable.

They started the season conceding a whopping 15 penalties in their first game and then got it down slightly to 12.

It stabilised but last weekend against the Reds it was out of hand again. To be fair, last week’s New Zealander referee was peculiar in some of his calls but even so, you have to adapt to the ref

Scrum time is where the Sharks are often at fault and poor old Thomas du Toit must be the most penalised prop just about in the history of Super Rugby.

Whatever the case, the Sharks have to stop gifting the opposition so much possession (and territory) via penalties.

Sort out the set pieces

Here is a sobering statistic. The Sharks have the worst set piece in the tournament.

When it comes to line-outs won, they are rock bottom in 15th place, having won just 76% of their line-outs.

The Jaguares are at the other end of the table in second place on 93.5% (the Crusaders’ line-out is the best on 93.7).

Similarly, the Sharks are rock bottom when it comes to set scrums won (75%), although the Jaguares are only marginally better in 13th place with 88%.

Clearly, the Sharks’ set piece is fragile and while coach Everitt feels there was growth in the performance of the forwards overseas, it is not enough.

The Sharks have to get better up front today and turn a weakness into a strength if they are to give their lethal backline the possession it needs to wreak havoc.

Mike Greenaway

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