Sharks searching for discipline

Jacques Botes is hoping the Sharks get out of some ‘bad habits’ in order to cure their ill-discipline.

The Durbanites have received five yellow cards in four matches, two of which have been for killing the ball at ruck-time and the other three for foul play. Andy Goode has only played two matches, and has been carded in both, while the Cheetahs fixture was the sole match where they played 80 minutes with the full compliment of 15 players.

The outcome is four straight losses, with lack of discipline the main reason for defeats against the Chiefs and Waratahs. The Sharks’ attack has also been poor, while without the ball they have lacked the trust in their defensive systems and have given away penalties.

It cost them in the second half of their loss to the Cheetahs, where a string of penalties proved the difference. Against the Chiefs, the visitors scored 13 points while John Smit and Bismarck du Plessis were off the field, including the only try of the match with the latter watching from the sidelines.

Most recently against a misfiring Tahs outfit on Saturday, the Sharks rallied to scored eight points with 13 men on the park, but conceded a Daniel Halangahu try with one man down. The Sydney-siders were clearly off form, and if the Sharks had managed to keep all their players on the pitch, they should have put the Tahs away.

‘Our discipline has really let us down throughout the tournament,’ Botes told ‘We’ve prided ourselves on that aspect of the game in the past, but five yellow cards in four games isn’t good enough.’

Two of the sin-binnings to Smit and Goode have been influenced by the stricter law interpretations at the breakdown, but in general the lack of discipline points to problems within the camp.

‘At scrum-time, decisions are 50/50 as all sides think they’re right. It’s a bit of a gamble. At the breakdown, we have to get out of some bad habits from last year. Hopefully that’s the last you see of it.’

Against a Brumbies side renowned for their phase-play and keeping ball in hand, the Sharks will have to exhibit discipline in defence that has been lacking throughout their campaign.

‘Everyone has predicted this kind of game will favour the Brumbies, but against any teams dominant tackles still help. We just mustn’t get into old habits and commit too many guys to the rucks.’

Botes has been rotated with Keegan Daniel throughout the tournament and is part of a group of five loose forwards who regularly feature for the Sharks.

‘It’s not set in stone who will play each week between Keegan and I, and it’s not based on the opposition,’ said Botes. ‘It just depends how the body holds up, and one of us could start two or three matches in a row.

‘It’s interesting having five loosies, not many teams have that in their squad.

‘What gives us confidence is looking at the personnel we have around us. We believe we have the right people in the right places. Previous experience also helps. We’ve been through some dips, but we also have been through good times.

‘We know what we need to do to get it right and win games.’

By Grant Ball