Sharks to lift intensity

Powerful prop Thomas du Toit says the Sharks will look to produce a well-structured, high-intensity performance in Saturday’s quarter-final against the Lions, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

If the Sharks have one thing going for them this week, it will be the ability to prepare with the pressure-free tag of underdogs, while knowing that even a competitive performance at Ellis Park on Saturday would defy many expectations.

After all, the Lions come into this clash on a 12-match winning streak, while they have won their last five encounters against the Sharks – with last weekend’s 27-10 win having been achieved with relative ease.

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Indeed, if the Sharks are to have any hope of causing an upset, they are aware that they will need to rattle the Lions up front in order to prevent the hosts from initiating attacks from a settled launch pad, while they will have to display the necessary physicality and intensity on defence.

With this in mind, Du Toit said there should be no doubt that the Sharks would be fired up for a clash that he likened to a ‘Test match’.

‘We’re not going to change the way we play, we’re a bit more conservative than they are, but we want to up the intensity. We’re not going to become loose, we will play a very intense, structured game …

‘At the end of the day it’s going to be like a Test match, it doesn’t matter what kind of win it is, all that matters is the end outcome, and we’re going to do whatever we can to get the result.’

Such assertions appear to validate Johan Ackermann’s comments earlier this week when he said they were preparing to face a dogfight from a Sharks side that often appears to perform best when they have been written off.

That was certainly the case when they overcame the Brumbies in Canberra, beat the Jaguares in Argentina and outplayed the Stormers at Kings Park.

Du Toit said the Sharks certainly wouldn’t be overawed by the prospect of playing a knockout match at Ellis Park.

‘I think the pressure was on them [the Lions] last weekend, and we let them off a bit, but we’re not planning on doing that again. Obviously they will be at home, and they have been playing well there, but that’s not something that will put us off, it’s actually something that will inspire us to win.’

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Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

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Craig Lewis