DURBAN – The last time the Sharks went overseas after a home defeat they beat the Waratahs in their next game and then drew with the Crusaders in Christchurch, so they will be hoping for similar fortunes when they fly out of Durban today for Buenos Aires.
At the weekend, the Sharks slumped to a disappointing loss to the Hurricanes at Jonsson Kings Park and this week they have to beat the Jaguares on home soil to keep alive their hopes of making the Super Rugby quarter-finals.
The Sharks conclude their regulation games next week in Cape Town against the Stormers, so that’s a very difficult fortnight on the road, but tighthead prop Thomas du Toit points out that the Sharks are happiest on the road these days.
“Argentina is a difficult place to travel to and it is a difficult crowd to handle in that they are loud and in your face, but the Sharks are good tourists, we do well away from home,” Du Toit said. “It is a long trek but a lot of the travel issues are in the mind and we are getting good at overcoming that side of things.”
Given the hostility of the crowd at the José Amalfitani Stadium, the visitors cannot allow the home team to start well.
“We don’t want them to get their tails up,” Du Toit said. “You want to start well against any team but even more so with them they do tend to strike early in the game so it is going to be a challenge for us to keep them out in that first quarter.”
The Jaguares have just returned home from a very successful tour of the Antipodes where they won three games out of four. They are comfortably ahead on the SA Conference with their two concluding games being at home to the Sharks and the Sunwolves.
“They are a complete side, a Test team, but they can be beaten and the way to do it is the same way you eat an elephant bit by bit,” Du Toit said yesterday after the Sharks’ training session ahead of today’s departure.
“You have to break down all the facets of their play bit by bit,” Du Toit explained. “You can’t just go in and try and overthrow them in one shot. You need to chop away at them bit by bit and work them hard in all areas, while at the same making sure you take your opportunities.”
Above all, the Jaguares are a niggly side with their highly physical approach to the rucks and mauls where they get under the opposition’s skin.
“Taking them on in areas such as their robust play is how you break them down,” Du Toit said. “You have to be more physical than them and outmuscle and outpassion them.
That is going to be the biggest challenge given how they respond to their supporters, but we have to do it.”@MikeGreenaway67