The Sharks will look to capitalise on any aimless kicking from the Blue Bulls at Loftus on Saturday. BRENTON CHELIN reports.
With the regular season nearing its climax with the commencement of the cross-section fixtures, the Sharks know there is very little room for error in the coming weeks. Captain Tera Mtembu used the word desperate. A loss to the Bulls and it may just be.
After limping through a section including the Cheetahs, Griquas and the Pumas, the Sharks will need to shift gears against the improving Bulls if they're to maintain their play-off position.
The Bulls will provide a very different proposition to the one faced in Bloemfontein last weekend, with a far more tactical approach expected from Frans Ludeke's men.
They lead the way with kicks from hand during the Currie Cup this season and between Jacques-Louis Potgieter and the booming boot of Ulrich Beyers, the Sharks back three should see plenty of ball on Saturday evening.
Western Province found some joy in running the ball back against the Bulls at Loftus and, with the array of attacking talent available to the Sharks, it could benefit them to follow suit.
'We see the Bulls kicking game as an opportunity to set up a counter-attack,' assistant coach Sean Everitt told SARugbymag.co.za. 'The players need to weigh up each situation. If there's space in behind then we'll look to kick, otherwise we'll look to keep ball in hand. It comes down to our decision-making, which is improving each week.'
Tim Swiel started at fullback for the Sharks last weekend, but with an aerial bombardment expected in Pretoria, the Sharks have altered their back three accordingly.
'We've gone for SP [Marais at fullback] because we know that the Bulls have a good kicking game and we need to counteract that,' said Everitt.
Along with the return of Marais, the Sharks are able to call on Springbok winger Lwazi Mvovo after he was made available for the weekend's match.
'Lwazi is very good under the high ball and that's where we expect the pressure to come from the Bulls.
'He will strengthen what we've already got. We're comfortable that [with the players we've got] we can deal with anything they throw at us.'
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