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Ease with which Bulls killed Sharks’ momentum will weigh heavily on Everitt 0

Posted on September 30, 2020 by Ken

The effectiveness with which the Bulls were able to kill the Sharks’ momentum in last weekend’s SuperFan Saturday match at Loftus Versfeld will weigh heavily on coach Sean Everitt’s mind as he prepares for the tough SuperRugby Unlocked challenges that lie ahead.

While the Sharks set the tone in SuperRugby earlier this year with the brisk tempo of their play and the efficient finishing of their backline, the Bulls showed that both those factors can be taken out of the equation if the KwaZulu-Natalians are beaten at source and don’t get enough quick ball, with the home side romping to a 49-28 win in Pretoria.

The loss of Andre Esterhuizen, Tyler Paul, Juan Schoeman and Le Roux Roets has robbed the Sharks of much go-forward grunt and they will have some other big packs to contend with when Super Rugby Unlocked starts on October 9 when they host the Lions in Durban.

“I thought the Bulls’ breakdown work was outstanding and we battled to get quick ball. Momentum comes from what type of ball you get at the breakdown and it was difficult for us to get any momentum, difficult to get on the front foot. In terms of physicality, the Bulls handled us well. It’s always difficult when you’re under the pump and don’t get over the gain-line.

“You end up making mistakes under pressure and turnovers, which means you’re always on the back foot. So it was obviously not the scoreline we wanted. We wanted to play off turnovers but they negated that and then three missed balls in the air cost us three tries. We will have to reorganise in that area, although we were also a bit unfortunate on attack,” Everitt said.

Given that the Sharks play a high-risk, high-reward type of rugby and that they now have a young side, it was understandable that there were costly moments when sound judgement was not always apparent.

“We certainly took a lot of learnings from the game. We came in with an enlarged squad and a lot of really good youngsters, and in the second half they did exceptionally well, playing the style of rugby we wanted. When you play risky rugby, sometimes things are not going to go well and missing some balls in the air cost us, the Bulls did well in the set-pieces and their breakdown work was outstanding.

“When we were deep inside their 22, maybe we didn’t always take the right options and we’ll now have to refocus. Injuries will happen, that’s part of the game, and we were fortunate not to have many in SuperRugby. But now a perfect scenario would be being able to rotate the squad, but we are still getting contact fit. The good news is James Venter, Henco Venter and Madosh Tambwe should all be available for the Lions game,” Everitt said.

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