“We didn’t look after the ball in that match and were ill disciplined."
FOR the Sharks, the no small matter of their 37-14 defeat to the Bulls three weeks ago is still in the back of their minds, according to assistant coach Nick Easter.
That was at Loftus in round four of Super Rugby and this week the two teams lock horns once more, this time at Jonsson Kings Park, and Easter confirms that the Sharks players have a score to settle after their humiliation on the highveld.
“Last time against the Bulls, we didn’t turn up; everyone was disappointed with that,” the former England loose forward said. “We didn’t look after the ball in that match and were ill disciplined. And you can’t do that against the Bulls when they are playing well, because they are a pressure team. They like to stick you in your half, with Handré Pollard pulling the strings.”
That game was three weeks ago and much has happened since both these sides had their bye last week. The Sharks bounced back with a deserved, hard-fought victory over a strong Rebels team and the Bulls came down to earth with a resounding splat against the Chiefs, leaking a massive 56 points at Loftus.
“They will be smarting after what happened to them at the weekend and we know what is going to turn up on Saturday,” Easter warned. “The emotional side of the game is massive and we have to respond with the emotional intensity you need to win big South African derbies.
“We know the frame of mind the Bulls are going to be in and frankly we wouldn’t want it any other way. You want these games to be difficult. If they didn’t turn up with that sort of passion and fire it might give us a false indication of where we’re at. We know the forwards have a heck of a battle on their hands, but we must concentrate on the detail of our preparation as the week progresses and then focus on the physicality on Saturday.”
Looking back at the Sharks’ vastly improved performance against the Rebels, Easter said: “The guys worked hard for each other, and they were aggressive.”