Defences ‘rewarded’

FILE PICTURE: Jake White (Sharks Director of Rugby) of the Cell C Sharks. Picture: Gallo Images.

The Sharks have reached a stage in their Super Rugby campaign where their resolute defensive formation is causing them headaches in more ways than one.

Having conceded only 15 tries in 11 matches before this morning’s meeting in Christchurch against the Crusaders, there’s little doubt that their marking is clearly working.

Yet it’s also inhibited their attacking prowess – they’ve only crossed the tryline on 18 occasions.

In a fairly creepy way, they’re mirroring the Stormers of 2012.

Director of rugby Jake White, pictured, is well aware of the need for his troops to score more tries.

“There’s a concern we’re not scoring tries, but I also put it down to the fact that it is very difficult to get cohesion when you have a new No 10 all the time, but if you look at all the games, it’s not like we’re the only team struggling to score tries,” he said.

But here’s the other headache – if you’re playing opposition like the Crusaders who are in fine scoring form, you don’t want to forego any of your stinginess on defence.

“Defences have got better, referees are rewarding teams that are defending and so it’s much harder to hold on to the ball now. Teams are being rewarded for the way they are defending, and if they’re hard on the ball, they’re getting rewarded,” noted White.

“If you look at our game against the Brumbies, they had 41% possession and ended up winning the game. They made 144 tackles, we made 59 and they ended up winning.

“I’m the first to admit it, we don’t want to become a dull team. That match was the exception, that was how we wanted to play that game given the conditions and opposition.”

Therein lies this much-fancied squad’s greatest challenge for the rest of the campaign – delivering on both attacking and defensive fronts.

It’s not going to be easy.

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