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Ken Borland

How do the Sharks make sure they do the business against the Bulls?

Posted on March 07, 2022 by Ken

Sharks hooker Bongi Mbonambi said not allowing outside influences to affect the inside of the team, and pulling together to make sure there were consistent energy levels between the forwards and backs, were the main things they needed to improve on from their loss to the Stormers if they are to beat the Bulls in their United Rugby Championship match in Pretoria on Saturday.

But are there any other things the Sharks need to do to make sure they do the business against the Bulls?

  1. They need to start much better.

Especially playing away from home, as they were last weekend and will be at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, they cannot afford to allow the home team to settle and dictate the run of play. But the Sharks seemed somehow distracted and not fully focused on the task at hand against a fired-up Stormers side. The Sharks lacked energy and intensity in the opening exchanges, which perhaps contributed to several handling errors. It meant they struggled to gain any momentum.

  1. They need secure, more consistent set-pieces.

Solid set-piece displays were a feature of the Sharks’ impressive win in Johannesburg a fortnight ago and their scrummaging was outstanding against the Stormers in Durban, although they still allowed their opponents to sneak the draw. But in Cape Town, they gave away crucial scrum penalties and were untidy at key moments in the lineouts. Their woes in Pretoria recently have started up front and they cannot afford to give the Bulls an advantage in the set-pieces.

  1. They need to fix their breakdown work.

You can tell the opposition have enjoyed a field day at the rucks when their openside flank gets man of the match as Deon Fourie did in Cape Town. The Sharks conceded turnovers and penalties at the breakdown at vital moments, which needs to be rectified. Their lack of organisation and/or accuracy at the breakdown is also having a telling effect on their attacking efforts because they are not securing enough quick ball.

  1. They need to sort out their personnel at flyhalf and inside centre.

Although he is a quality player, moving Lukhanyo Am to inside centre seems to have adulterated their backline, with his defensive organisation sorely missed at outside centre. Bringing Marius Louw back into the No.12 jersey would allow Am to have his usual impact at No.13, but flyhalf is also a troubling position for the Sharks. What Tito Bonilla brought on attack was undone by his defensive lapses.

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