Quarter-final will be a different ball game altogether
IF the way the Sharks have been running at training this week is anything to go by, expect Curwin Bosch to be named at flyhalf for Saturday’s Super Rugby quarter-final match against the Lions at Ellis Park.
Bosch, one of the star performers for the Sharks this season has mainly played fullback but last week, against this same Lions side, he was left on the bench with Lwazi Mvovo returning from injury at fullback and Garth April keeping his place at 10.
April was subbed 45 minutes into the game against the Lions last week at Kings Park and Bosch could be poised to return at No 10.
He is a proven match-winner and the Sharks have to produce something different at Elllis Park on Saturday if they are to upset a Lions team that has won 13 Super Rugby games in a row at their fortress.
Otherwise, the Sharks are likely to keep the same line-up that lost 27-10 to the Lions last week in Durban.
Kobus van Wyk, the Sharks’ sole try scorer against the Lions last week, reckons this quarter-final will be a different ball game altogether.
“We have played the Lions twice this season, the first time we deserved to win in Johannesburg, last week we deserved to lose in Durban, so maybe it will be third time lucky,” the former Stormers man said with a grin.
“We are the underdogs but you never know what can happen in a knock-out game. The pressure might get to them, who knows, but there is no pressure on us other than to go there and give our all,” the 25-year-old said.
Van Wyk was a star wing in Cape Town, scoring a total of 19 tries in 45 games for WP and the Stormers, but the Paarl Gimnasium product was allowed to leave Newlands and had a season with Bordeaux in France before the Sharks enticed him back to South Africa.
“Is there a genuine belief that we can win? Of course there is,” Van Wyk said. “We were down over the weekend but the heads were up on Monday and like the Vikings we must go and burn our ships when we invade the Lions.”
Van Wyk is talking about an ancient policy of the Norsemen where they declared their intent on arrival at a new destination by burning their ships to give them no opportunity of retreat. Forward or bust, is pretty much what it was.
“To beat the Lions we have to hit the ground running, get hold of the ball, and keep it. That is how we have won when playing against the top teams in the competition this year. It is all about how we start, and then control possession,” Van Wyk said.
“Yes, we have been inconsistent over this campaign but we do have precedents that we can draw on. We have had some really good performances and wins, so we know we can do it.”
Last week the do-or-die attitude was not there, this week will be different the winger says.
“It was a difficult game last week, psychologically, but this week we will be on fire,” promised Van Wyk. “We are going to burn our ships! The first quarter is going to huge, we have to impose ourselves.
“Our set phases have to be spot on so we do not let their half-backs dictate play. Our forwards have to put them under pressure. We can’t let them get early momentum.”