Sean Everitt is wary of a Connacht side that will be motivated by the prospect of completing a clean sweep of the South African teams when they face the Sharks in a Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash in Durban on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
The fourth-placed Sharks go into Saturday’s game on the back of a thrilling bonus-point win over league leaders Leinster, a contest that went down to the wire as the Irish giants were held up over the tryline in the final play.
They are set to face a Connacht team that beat the Bulls and Stormers in Galway before claiming a hard-fought victory over the Lions in Johannesburg last week.
“Connacht are a difficult side to play against, as the Bulls, Stormers and Lions found out,” Everitt said after naming his team for the match. “Connacht have beaten all three of them and we know they are going to be motivated to get one over us and get a clean sweep of the South African teams.
“They are certainly a gutsy team. They have got good defence – they fly off the line – and they are very good at holding onto the ball. One of their main attributes is their ability to attack the breakdown. We need to be squeaky clean as far as that is concerned and make sure we look after our own ball.”
As a positive for the Sharks, the wet and humid weather that affected matches against Leinster, Edinburgh and the Dragons at Kings Park has not been forecast for Saturday. Instead, a partly cloudy 21 degree day should allow the Sharks to unleash the likes of Aphelele Fassi and Makazole Mapimpi.
“For us it will be great to play on a dry pitch for a change,” Everitt said. “I don’t think anything will change about how we play. We have got a good blend between kicking and attacking. We saw last week, we had some very good counter-attacking opportunities. Fassi had a very good game from the back. It’s about getting the blend right. Playing in the dry conditions should give us a little bit more time on the ball. When you play in humidity or wet conditions, you tend to carry it a bit more, rather than move the ball to the edge.
“To get the ball to the edge, that’s where our danger men are. The weather will certainly help us as far as that is concerned.”
Everitt added that the Sharks will have to be careful of soft moments on defence and will be hoping to carry their good form at the breakdown into this game.
“I feel things are coming together really nicely now. What let us down last week was probably our alertness on the field. In tight games, you can’t afford to give away soft opportunities. We lacked concentration and didn’t close the space around the ruck and they scored two tries from it. The top teams will be ready for any opportunity. That has been one of our focus points.
“I feel our defensive and attacking breakdown has improved so much, we are not conceding as many turnovers on the ground as we used to. Connacht are a massive threat on the floor, so we have focused on that again this week.”
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