Best attack to face best Currie Cup defence

The unpredictable element that has made the Sharks the Currie Cup’s most prolific try-scoring machine, will provide the mean Western Province defence with its sternest test this season when the side’s meet in Durban on Saturday evening.


The performance records of the two Currie Cup pace-setters does not offer a clue of which side will be likely victors because the Sharks’ potent attack appears to be as admirable as Province’s competent defence.


After six rounds in the Currie Cup the Sharks have scored on average nearly five tries per match whereas Province conceded one try per match on average.


The reverse statistics show Province average nearly four tries per match while the Sharks on average concede two tries per match.


But the rumblings from the two camps over the past two days suggest Province will be working hard on defence to contain the opposition’s varied attacks while the Sharks will focus on attack with the view to breaking down the visitors’ stubborn defence.


Province coach Allister Coetzee, together with Jacques Nienaber, the WP and Stormers defence guru, will be looking to cover all the bases after they acknowledged the Sharks are unpredictable with ball in hand.


“The Sharks are playing a great brand of rugby but are very unpredictable,” said Coetzee. “They really make a lot of passes and run from all over the field.


They willl test our defensive systems because the Sharks can run, chip and grubber.


“And it’s not only forward momentum (that is a concern), it’s also momentum with flair and players like (Patrick) Lambie and (Lwazi) Mvovo who can play the flair game, and (Stefan) Terblanche is an experienced player too.


“Thank goodness JP (Petersen) isn’t there. They’ve got Odwa (Ndungane) there, so they’ll definitely be a tough assignment for us this weekend.”


But defence has been the buzzword in Cape Town since the start of the year when the Stormers produced the season’s finest Super defence record, and the Currie Cup side have followed suit. Coetzee has pointed out that patience has been the key to the rock-solid defence.


“It’s a matter of being patient and staying with the team systems, especially against running sides like the Sharks,” said Coetzee.


“We’ve been up against teams with a gameplan of all-out attacking play and we’ve learnt it was crucial to be patient on defence.”


The focus on defence have on occasions attracted criticism that the side lacks thrust on attack but Coetzee feels his side can pounce effectively when teams become demoralised when their attacks come to nought.


However, Province have not shown the same measure of patience on attack and this shortcoming was highlighted again on Saturday when despite their glut of possession, were unable to find a way past the Bulls defence.


Sharks coach John Plumtree, has worked wonders with his side’s attack but he’s acknowledged the Province defence is cause for concern, as well as his side’s discipline.


“They have an excellent defence and that’s something we’re aware of,” said Plumtree.


“Our disciple was a bit poor at times (last week against the Leopards) but that’s something we’ll assess.”

 

Clearly, Saturday’s clash looks like a battle of epic proportions between the Province defence and the Sharks attack.

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