Sharks 'confident' they can cause Loftus boilover
CURRIE CUP FINAL BUILD-UP: The Sharks will look to turn back the clock three decades when they travel to Pretoria on Saturday to face the fancied Bulls.
Much like their first Currie Cup triumph in 1990, the Sharks will arrive at Loftus Versfeld as underdogs.
However, they have the belief that they can breach the hosts’ defences at Fort Loftus.
The Sharks, or Natal in their previous guise, faced the Bulls (or Northern Transvaal) in five finals.
They have won only one grand finale in Pretoria – 1990.
“We know what is coming our way,” coach Sean Everitt said.
Like their face-off in the 2020/21 Final, it will require 80 minutes – maybe even more – of physical and brutal combat to emerge victorious.
The coach, Everitt, suggested they showed enough in the semifinal against Griquas this past weekend (a 28-24 win) to be confident about getting a rare win at Loftus Versfeld.
“At the end of the day I thought we did enough to win the game,” he said, adding: “However, we’ll work hard this week and make improvements where we need to, then go up to Loftus confident that we can turn the Bulls over.”
Everitt pointed to the altitude factor – at least 1,300 metres above sea level – and said his team will have to handle the ‘aerial battle’ better than they did in the semifinal win over Griquas.
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“A times out reaction to the breakdown was a little bit slow,” he told @rugby365com, adding: “We know the Bulls go hard at the ball.
“Conceding breakdown turnovers against the Bulls will be suicide.
“We have to be squeaky clean and tidy up our game.”
The coach added that fullback Curwin Bosch, flyhalf Lionel Cronje and scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba are good kickers of the ball out of hand.
“That [their kicking] should play in our favour,” he added.
He added that the Bulls’ well-documented physicality should also not be a problem, as the Sharks managed to match that the last tie the two teams played – in Durban in the league stages of the competition.
The Sharks won the game in Durban 35-28, after their fixture scheduled for Loftus on July 21 was cancelled in line with COVID-19 protocols.
Everitt spoke of the improvement in the team’s set pieces during the course of the season, saying there was a lot of positives that came out of their semifinal win.
“We mustn’t forget that Griquas have beaten a number of the top franchises this year,” the Sharks coach said.
“They had the double over Western Province, they beat us at Kings Park, so they re a tough team and playing any team in a semifinal is going to be tough.
“All credit to Griquas for a great season, I’m just happy that we got the win and can contest a final for the second time in seven months.
“There is definitely areas of our game we need to address before the trip to Pretoria, but the team is in a good space and we are excited about the week ahead.”