DURBAN – Super Rugby is unrelenting in its toughness, and the Sharks are expecting yet another highly physical, SA derby-type battle when the Jaguares visit Kings Park on Saturday (3pm).
The Argentinians ultimately tamed the Bulls last week at Loftus Versfeld, and Sharks forwards coach Jaco Pienaar is expecting a bone-crunching battle.
“They are actually similar to the SA teams in how they approach the game,” Pienaar said.
“They have powerful forwards; exciting, big ball-carrying backs that can score from everywhere.
“They have good set-pieces, mauls and scrums, and they have shown that they play for 80 minutes in how they came back from the dead to beat the Bulls in the last 10 minutes.
“So, the reality is that Saturday, we are anticipating another SA derby kind of game.”
The Jaguares have had a slow start to the season, with the win over the Bulls only their third in seven starts.
To a degree, they have been similar to the Sharks in that they have battled to find their best form until this last weekend.
“The Jaguares remain close to being an international team. They are a good side, and they have shown it now,” Pienaar said.
“You don’t soak up all that pressure for so long in a game and then score 14 points to snatch it unless you have quality. They will be confident after that game.”
As will be the Sharks. Every player had his best game of the season, and it started with exemplary performances from the forwards.
One of those to raise eyebrows was young hooker Kerron van Vuuren, who this season has found himself in the Super Rugby deep end because of the unavailability for various reasons of Chiliboy Ralepelle, Akker van der Merwe and Craig Burden.
“Kerron has been part of the Sharks for a long time, coming through the age-group ranks,” Pienaar said.
“He has been paying his school fees every year behind some good hookers, and his incredible hard work and patience is now paying off for him.
“He is a ‘No 6 flank’ kind of hooker, and that’s why we sometimes in fact play him on the flank (he played the last 20 minutes of the Lions game in that position).
Lions v Sharks | Super Rugby 2019 Rd 8 Highlights@TheSharksZA put on a truly dominant performance to beat @LionsRugbyCo 42-5 in Johannesburg, celebrating Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira’s record breaking 157th appearance in style.#SuperRugby #LIOvSHA pic.twitter.com/G41cLFpGot— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) April 5, 2019
“What you see on the field from Kerron is a player that has taken no short cuts,” Pienaar continued.
“You can see from his conditioning how hard he works. Also, his excellent throwing-in… that comes from putting in the hours off the field.”
After such a good performance from the Sharks, what next? Can they replicate it a week later? “Win or lose, there are always things you can do better,” Pienaar said.
“But also win or lose, there are things you did well that you want to carry on doing, and then things that did not go so well that you want to correct.
“We have more than enough to work on.”@MikeGreenaway67