Du Toit: ‘Hurt’ Sharks owe Bulls one

Sharks prop Thomas du Toit says it is absolutely vital that they match the Vodacom Bulls’ work rate in their crucial Currie Cup match in Durban on Saturday.

The Sharks will welcome the Bulls to Kings Park for what could be a massive encounter in determining the final standings and playoff places in the Currie Cup. The Bulls are currently in a comfortable position at the top of the table, eight points clear of the second-placed Sharks.

However, this could quickly change and the Sharks could revitalise their hopes of finishing in first place with a win this weekend, especially as they currently have a game in hand after this past weekend’s bye.

The Sharks also have something of a personal score to settle with the Bulls, suffering two heavy losses to the Pretoria-based team. The Bulls made a statement of intent when they beat the Sharks 49-28 in the Super Fan Saturday pre-season game and similarly outplayed the Sharks to claim a 41-14 win in the third round of Super Rugby Unlocked.

Since then, the Sharks have been on a good run of form, comfortably beating the Pumas twice, while also claiming narrow wins over the Cheetahs and Griquas.

Speaking on Tuesday ahead of the clash, Du Toit made no secret as to how important this weekend’s game will be, adding that the Sharks are fueled by the ‘hurt’ of those two losses.

‘It’s an absolutely massive game for us this weekend. We are really excited for it,’ Du Toit said. ‘As always with the Bulls, it is one of those things where we feel that we really need to up our game. You have to give credit where it is due and they have been playing unbelievable rugby. It shows. Even with 14 men, they have produced the goods. So we need to up our game and need to be on our best performance to beat these guys.

‘We haven’t put out our best performance against them and we feel that we kind of owe them one. Obviously, it hurts. When you get 40 points put on you, it really hurts. It is something we need to rectify. It shows you the quality of the Bulls side. If you are not performing at your best, they can put you away very quickly with two or three tries and then you feel you are out of the game.’

The Bulls are currently unbeaten since their loss to the Cheetahs in the second round of Super Rugby Unlocked and are coming off a hard-fought win over the Bloemfontein team, where an excellent second-half performance pushed them to a 40-14 victory.

Du Toit said that game showed that the Sharks are going to have to match the Bulls’ impressive work rate throughout the full 80 minutes if they have any chance of claiming a win.

‘That’s going to be a very vital part of this week because obviously the Bulls front row and pack make them a very dominant side. You have to match them. If you want to beat the Bulls pack, you have to outwork them and also out-scrum them, out-lineout them and out-maul them. That will be the message up front for us going into this weekend.

‘That’s something we have discussed. It has to be an 80-minute performance otherwise … they are a quality side and they have a killer instinct that will just bury you and put you away if you don’t perform for 80 minutes.’

On a personal note, Du Toit made his comeback from injury in the Sharks’ Currie Cup opening Currie Cup win over the Pumas, his first game since the first round of Super Rugby Unlocked.

‘The 40 minutes helped me a lot,’ the tighthead prop said. ‘I felt at half time that I wanted to push on for a little bit more, but with the lead we had, we felt that it was good enough to bank that 40 and then use it as a bit of a confidence boost. For me, it is about gaining that confidence back and knowing that I am fit enough to at least last 40 minutes and go from there.’

Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

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Dylan Jack