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Ken Borland

Sharks looking to take away Leinster quick ball & phases

Posted on December 14, 2022 by Ken

Irish powerhouses Leinster, especially at home, thrive on quick ball and phase-after-phase of ball-in-hand attack, but the Sharks will be looking to take that away from them in their United Rugby Championship clash in Dublin on Saturday night.

James Venter and Dylan Richardson, both traditionally openside flanks, will continue to play in tandem in a mobile loose trio that sees Springbok Sikhumbuzo Notshe return as starting eighthman and the hardworking Phepsi Buthelezi on the bench.

And the more Leinster recycle the ball through rucks, the more they will bring Venter and Richardson, both expert ball-stealers, into play.

“We know that Leinster rely on lightning-quick ball at the breakdown and we need to slow that down,” Sharks coach Sean Everitt said on Friday. “But they do concede turnovers, and if we defend well then that could be a source of attacking possession for us.

“Leinster have an all-round game, a good kicking game forces you to play in the wrong areas and then their attack is really dangerous, they enjoy keeping ball-in-hand.

“But hopefully we can wear them down, get on top at the breakdowns and then get behind them. The amount of work that Dylan and James gets through stands us in good stead.

“Dylan is an all-round loose forward, he can play on the blindside too because he is physical, his carries are very good and he gets a lot of them. He’s good on the ground too,” Everitt said.

The Sharks have won both of their matches on tour thus far, but it’s not as if they have peacefully gone about securing that unbeaten record. They had to withstand a fierce second-half comeback from Zebre in Parma, eventually holding on 42-37, and last weekend they mounted the last-ditch effort, snatching a 20-19 win over the Dragons in Newport.

Everitt knows how steep the challenge is away to Leinster and he knows they need their all-round game to click.

“It’s a massive game for us to see where we’re at because we’re going to have a number of games without our Springboks. We’re under no false illusions, but teams have beaten Leinster and we beat them in Durban last season.

“We have to improve the areas that have let us down the last two weeks. Our attack was brilliant in the first game, but our defence let us down in the second half. Last weekend our defence was good but the attack was poor.

“So we need to get consistency in both of those areas. It’s going to be a great challenge because Leinster weren’t the top side in Europe for five years for nothing,” Everitt said.

Sharks team – Aphelele Fassi, Werner Kok, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Ben Tapuai, Thaakir Abrahams, Boeta Chamberlain, Grant Williams, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Dylan Richardson, James Venter, Hyron Andrews, Justin Basson, Thomas du Toit (c), Kerron van Vuuren, Ntuthuko Mchunu. Bench: Dan Jooste, Dian Bleuler, Carlu Sadie, Reniel Hugo, Phepsi Buthelezi, Cameron Wright, Nevaldo Fleurs, Marnus Potgieter.

Kickoff – 6.05pm.

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