Rugby: Sharks aim to fix defence net

By Dylan Cleaver

Stephen Donald of the Chiefs. Photo / Christine Cornege
Stephen Donald of the Chiefs. Photo / Christine Cornege

The Sharks want to plug a defence that started leaking against the Rebels; the Chiefs want to finally take full advantage of the linebreaks they're making.

Logic tells you one team is not going to get their way.

Chiefs coach Ian Foster has started to sound like a broken record as three times this year he has been left to lament a lack of patience and individual mistakes that have cost games.

He might well have been borrowing from John Plumtree's 2010 script, when his Sharks lost their first five games, four of them by five points or less.

After 10 rounds they had evened the ledger and went on to post a winning record, but too much damage had been done too early to make the playoffs.

The different format and extended season means the Chiefs are not in such a desperate predicament but they cannot afford to drop home matches.

First five-eighths Stephen Donald said his side tonight faced a "balancing act" in terms of how quickly they try to exploit the power they have out wide, particularly with the inclusion of All Black Richard Kahui, back from shoulder surgery, at centre.

The Chiefs can be guilty of using width as a default setting, but with the Sharks showing vulnerability out wide against the Rebels, the temptation will burn.

Plumtree has made one change to the side that beat the Rebels.

Springbok prop Jannie du Plessis has been named ahead of Tendai "Beast" Mtawarira, while captain John Smit moves from one side of the front row to the other.

The Sharks are the competition's only unbeaten team and top the standings, but Plumtree is seeking improvement.

He said his side had done a lot of skill work this week after making too many basic errors which affected continuity against the Rebels.

Defence, too, was a focal point of their sessions, a defence that will be stretched by Kahui, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Tim Nanai-Williams and company.

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CHIEFS

Tim Nanai-Williams
Lelia Masaga
Richard Kahui
Tana Umaga
Sitiveni Sivivatu
Stephen Donald
Brendon Leonard
Liam Messam (c)
Tanerau Latimer
Scott Waldrom
Isaac Ross
Craig Clarke
Nathan White
Hika Elliot
Ben May

Chiefs: Aled de Malmanche, Sona Taumalolo, Romana Graham, Fritz Lee, Taniela Moa; Mike Delany, Dwayne Sweeney

SHARKS

Louis Ludik
Odwa Ndungane
Stefan Terblanche
Meyer Bosman
Lwazi Mvovo
Patrick Lambie
Charl McLeod
Ryan Kankowski
Willem Alberts
Keegan Daniel
A. Hargreaves
Steven Sykes
Jannie du Plessis
B. du Plessis
John Smit

Sharks: Craig Burden, Tendai Mtawarira, Anton Bresler, Jacques Botes, Conrad Hoffmann, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Adrian Jacobs.

- NZ Herald

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