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Ken Borland

‘Matching physicality’ a recurring riff as Sharks assess Dragons

Posted on December 01, 2022 by Ken

‘Matching the opposition’s physicality’ is a recurring riff in rugby these days, and Sharks coach Sean Everitt spoke of little else when assessing the strengths of the Dragons team they come up against in their United Rugby Championship match in Newport on Saturday.

The Sharks themselves do not own the most physically intimidating side, putting greater value on mobility, tempo and expansiveness, but they have produced the grunt at times.

The Dragons, meanwhile, are under new management with Dai Flanagan moving from Scarlets in June to take over as head coach. It is believed director of rugby Dean Ryan is being moved on, after he gave the players a public earful following their lacklustre 44-6 loss to Edinburgh on the opening weekend of URC action.

The squad responded with a 23-17 win over Munster, a major upset, the first time they have beaten the Irish giants since 2015, and their first win at home at Rodney Parade in 18 months.

“The Dragons have a new head coach and they are a very different kettle of fish at home,” Everitt said. “Last week they dominated Munster physically, in the mauls, collisions and set-pieces, they were vastly improved in those areas.

“So obviously we will need to be dominant from a physicality point of view. The Dragons are a different team from when we beat them 51-3 in April. We were fortunate to be at home then.

“It was difficult for them in Durban at that time of year and it’s going to be a different challenge for us in Newport. They pride themselves on their physicality and the collisions.

“They are physical by nature and we are going to have to be up for it physically,” Everitt reiterated.

But whenever the Dragons have come up against South African opposition – probably the measure for physicality in the URC – it has been a chronicle of disappointment for the Welshmen.

They lost all four matches they played against South African teams last season, and, notwithstanding their brilliant result against Munster, which ended a six-game losing run, they have not won successive URC games since April 2021.

Kick-off: 8.35pm.

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