by Mike Greenaway
The Brumbies can expect a serious backlash from the Sharks on Saturday evening (7.10pm kick-off) if the mood in the Sharks camp post the heavy Stormers defeat is anything to go by.
Yesterday Sharks assistant coach Grant Bashford spent hours poring over the match video, and he drew this conclusion: “I really think the boys will be hurting. I expect this weekend’s game to be a very physical and angry performance from the guys.”
Apart from the disappointing manner of their defeat – the Sharks were given a bloody nose in the playground, so to speak, and did not fight back – and a great chance to go top of the SA Conference was blown.
“We have to move on now,” the backline coach said. “Every week has almost become a must-win because although our log position hasn’t changed (the Sharks are still second) we’ve let the Stormers get further away from us. They’ve still got to go on tour, and have some tough games coming up, so all is not lost, but we could have been sitting pretty if we had won at Newlands.”
Bashford said his analysis of the game had shown few positives to take out of the heavy loss.
“In all honesty, there is not a lot of good in that game as far as we are concerned. We weren’t able to get anything going from our scrums and line-outs. We were dominated at the collisions and breakdown, they dominated us physically and we weren’t able to get any momentum on the front foot. It’s as simple as that, we didn’t get our game going, and so it wasn’t just losing that was disappointing but the way we played.”
The ability of the Stormers to break through the Sharks backline almost at will has been painfully taken on board by the management.
“It’s probbably only been twice in this campaign that we’ve had a problem with missing first-time tackles. First it was against the Crusaders in London and now against the Stormers. A team really shouldn’t score against us from first-phase play, and so we were very disappointed with that,” Bashford said.
The Sharks have lost a day in their bid to rectify things in training because of the Springbok get-together in Cape Town that began on Sunday and ends this morning. The Sharks had 14 players at the camp and so it was pointless for the remainder to train yesterday. The squad will train this afternoon for the first time having lost Sunday and Monday
“It would have been good to have the Boks with us yesterday so that we could have all reviewed the game,” Bashford said. “So it’s delayed things a bit but we understand why this camp has happened and we just have to deal with it.”
The Brumbies have no doubt watched the last weekend’s events with keen interest and will be taking appropriate steps in their own preparation. Not that the Sharks would have discounted the threat of the Canberra team, even if there had been a win in Cape Town.
“The Brumbies will be disappointed with their results this season so far, but they’re a team that you can’t really judge just on their log position,” Bashford said. “They have some exceptional players and have played very good rugby in patches, so we’ll have to be sharp on defence. They are certainly a side that is capable of manipulating your defence, so we’ll have to have our wits about us.”
The Sharks will be without captain John Smit for the match. He has strained a calf muscle and will be sidelined for at least a fortnight.
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