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Ken Borland

Jake did not want Bulls to use scrums to get penalties; Sharks did not get the memo

Posted on January 13, 2022 by Ken

Bulls coach Jake White said before their United Rugby Championship match against the Sharks in Durban that he would like his team to move towards the Northern Hemisphere approach of using the set-pieces as more of an attacking platform than as an opportunity to get penalties.

The Sharks clearly did not get the memo though as they thoroughly dominated the Bulls in the scrums, earning eight penalties as well as forcing referee Jaco Peyper to yellow card retreaded tighthead Lizo Gqoboka, and also putting the visitors under pressure in the lineouts. That dominance up front set in motion a commanding display as they swept the Currie Cup champions aside 30-16.

“The set-pieces are always important, especially with the conditions we have in Durban this time of year,” Sharks coach Sean Everitt said. “The set-pieces really functioned well and we got a maul try.

“So it’s been a good turnaround in that department. The scrum is one of three things that have to be in place for you to win, the others being territory and defence.

“We won the territory battle, although we were not as clinical as I would have liked in the first half. Defensively we stopped the Bulls’ momentum, we won the gain-line.

“At the breakdowns we were doing more cleaning next to the ball and not over it, but we got better at it, and in the second half we were able to put the opposition under pressure there,” Everitt said.

White said the Bulls are set to boost their front-row stocks, especially at tighthead prop, given the departure of Trevor Nyakane to Racing 92 in France, and the current unavailability of Jacques van Rooyen and Mornay Smith. The inexperienced Robert Hunt started in the number three jersey and was replaced by Gqoboka, who has not played on that side of the scrum since the start of his career.

“From a personnel point of view, we obviously need to get more experienced tighthead props because there are things in the scrum we have to get right,” White said.

“On our ball, I thought we played quite cleverly, but there was no stopping the Sharks on their ball and that put us under pressure.”

Everitt also gave a big thumbs up to his returning Springboks, who were very much the heartbeat of the side, especially Thomas du Toit and Bongi Mbonambi up front, and Lukhanyo Am at inside centre.

“Having the Boks back made a huge difference and they came through really well. It’s their attitude that was really pleasing.

“I’ve been at the Sharks for a long time and sometimes you worry about the attitude of the Springboks when they come back, but they came back very well prepared and it was a smooth transition.

“Lukhanyo played yet another 80 minutes and was man of the match, while Bongi fitted in seamlessly and did really well today. He was strong defensively and the set-pieces went really well,” Everitt said.

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