Rush defence worked like a charm

Sun, 27 Oct 2013 13:44
Large sharks tackle wp Large jannie   bismarck du plessi Large currie cup trophy3

The spotlight was placed on the Sharks' kicking game, but their defence was just as critical to success in the Final.

The spotlight was placed mostly on the Sharks' effective kicking game, but their defence was just as critical to the success of their Final campaign.

Brad MacLeod-Henderson, speaking after his team's 33-19 triumph over the previously unbeaten Western Province in the Currie Cup Final at Newlands at the weekend, was full of praise for how his players "physically" stood up to the opposition and described them as "amazing".

And while he was happy to heap praise on the kickers, just like the Province camp did, for their fine execution of their well-planned tactics, it was on defence where the Sharks made the biggest shift in the Final.

The team was still formally under the guidance of Brendan Venter, but there was more than just a hint that parts of Jake White's famed rush-defence was employed in the Final.

By all accounts Venter was "hands-on" at training last week, but White - who will take over now that the Currie Cup season is over - was an interesting observer at Sharks training sessions earlier in the season.

The credit was also formally given to Venter, as well as his assistants - MacLeod-Henderson and Sean Everitt.

And MacLeod-Henderson admitted that it was a deliberate tactic to come hard off the line and deny the fleet-footed Province backs any time and space.

"We knew that we needed to win the collisions," the Sharks' forward coach said.

"The easiest way to win the collisions is to get off the line aggressively," he said, adding: "We wanted to do that, we knew they had some big ball carriers up front and if we could snuff them out we wouldn't allow them any momentum.

"We focussed quite hard on getting off the line on defence to put them under pressure and obviously when they start moving it out wide we'd move our wing up to close down any space," he said of a tactic first made famous during Jake White's successful 2007 World Cup campaign - where WP coach Allister Coetzee was his assistant and current Sharks CEO John Smit was White's captain.

MacLeod-Henderson said their defence worked really well and it was great that they managed to keep it up for 80 minutes.

"It was definitely our best performance of the year and has been a fantastic end to what has been a great Currie Cup [campaign] for us."

He said physically the guys were "amazing" and they certainly stood up in the contact areas.

"Our kicking game was strong and our defence was awesome," the forwards mentor said.

He admitted that having been the underdogs going into the game helped "a bit" with motivation.

"The guys started like a house on fire and continued for 80 minutes," MacLeod-Henderson said, adding: "We are very fortunate [that ] we've got  some fantastic players.

"Frans Steyn showed again what a class act he is.

"Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck [du Plessis], Beast [Tendai Mtawarira] - everyone stood up.

"A couple of young guys, [like] Pieter-Steph du Toit was amazing. SP Marais played fantastically."

He also admitted that having had Bismarck du Plessis cleared by a disciplinary hearing, with his brother Jannie recovering from injury and Willem Alberts declared fit had a huge impact.

"Those three are world class players," he said, adding: "Bismarck and Jannie have 50 Tests both of them.

"Willem showed what he is capable of - he just stepped up.

"To have those three guys available made a massive difference.

"When a Springbok comes back down [to the Currie Cup competition from Test rugby] you want him to play like a Springbok.

"Those guys that were on national duty had a long season, it has been a long year. For them to come out and play the way they did, it just showed what it meant to them."

By Jan de Koning, at Newlands

England vs Italy
sast: 17h00 | local: 15h00

  • |
LIVE
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sun, 26 February 2017
Bristol v Bath 11h00 Ashton Gate
Wasps v Gloucester 12h30 Ricoh Arena
Zebre v Ulster 12h30 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Treviso v Connacht 12h30 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors 13h05 Liberty Stadium
Mon, 27 February 2017
UCT-Ikeys v Maties 14h45 Cape Town
UWC v TUT 16h30 Cape Town
UP-Tuks v Wits 16h30 Pretoria
CPUT v UKZN-Impi 16h30 Cape Town
CUT-Ixias v UJ 16h30 Bloemfontein
Rhodes v Fort Hare 16h30 Grahamstown
Shimlas v NWU-Pukke 17h00 Bloemfontein
Thu, 02 March 2017
Force v Reds 10h30 Perth
Fri, 03 March 2017
Chiefs v Blues 06h35 Hamilton
Ulster v Treviso 19h35 Kingspan Stadium
Edinburgh v Ospreys 19h35 Myreside
Connacht v Zebre 19h35 Ascoli Piceno
Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints 20h15 AJ Bell Stadium
Sat, 04 March 2017
Hurricanes v Rebels 04h15 Wellington
Highlanders v Crusaders 06h45 Dunedin
Brumbies v Sharks 08h45 Canberra
Sunwolves v Kings 10h55 Singapore
Lions v Waratahs 13h05 Johannesburg
Glasgow Warriors v Dragons 15h00 Scotstoun Stadium
Bath v Wasps 15h00 Recreation Ground
Worcester Warriors v Bristol 15h00 Sixways
Gloucester v Harlequins 15h00 Kingsholm
Leicester Tigers v Exeter Chiefs 15h00 Welford Road
Stormers v Jaguares 15h15 Cape Town
Cardiff Blues v Munster 17h15 BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park
Cheetahs v Bulls 17h30 Bloemfontein
Leinster v Scarlets 19h35 RDS Arena
CURRIE CUP
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Free State Cheetahs 8 8 0 0 39
Blue Bulls 8 6 0 2 30
Western Province 8 5 0 3 27
Golden Lions 8 5 0 3 26
Sharks 8 5 0 3 25
Griquas 8 4 0 4 21
Boland 8 2 0 6 11
Pumas 8 1 0 7 10
EP Kings 8 0 0 8 1