The Lions went at the breakdown like a pack of dogs in their opening-round Rainbow Cup SA fixture against the Bulls, so their opponents this weekend, the Sharks, know that the rucks are going to be a key area of their game at Kings Park on Saturday.
The Sharks were dogged by turnovers last weekend against a Stormers side whose efforts in that department were led by the excellent Nama Xaba, so eighthman Sikhumbuzo Notshe admitted on Tuesday that the breakdowns were a major area of focus for them this week.
“There are always work-ons after the first round of a competition, but the breakdown is a focus this week because of how poor we were in Cape Town,” admitted Notshe on Tuesday. “We let the stealers get their hands on the ball, while our reaction-time was poor. When someone carries the ball, you have to look after them.
“We haven’t shown consistency in that area and in some games we’ve just lost concentration. Sometimes we just don’t look after our team-mate when they go into contact, but we’ve addressed that and we are working hard on that.”
While the Sharks were not happy with how they played against the Stormers, Notshe said their defensive commitment and discipline were two big positives from the 33-30 win.
“It was a 100% effort. We were 20-3 down at one stage but the energy and intensity levels stayed good, and we must never lose that feeling for each other,” he said.
“At the end it would have been easy to give up a penalty, but we forced them to kick a 50/50 grubber instead. Our defence was good and so was our discipline, those were the positives and the areas where we have shown growth.
“We also adapted well to the new laws. We have to make sure we start and finish well against the Lions, they are a very physical team and we also respect them because they showed in our Super Rugby Unlocked match what they can do in the second 40.”