Tue, 24 Nov 2020

The Sharks' confidence did not take too much of a dent despite a heavy defeat to the Bulls in Pretoria last Saturday, skipper Lukhanyo Am believes.

The 41-14 reverse was the Sharks' second thumping at Loftus Versfeld in recent times, having also lost 49-28 to the Bulls during Super Fan Saturday last month.

But as they prepare to face the Pumas in Nelspruit this Saturday, Am remains confident that they can shrug off the defeat.

"It was a very frustrating game, the Bulls managed to put us under a lot of pressure on breakdown and set piece. So, we struggled to get momentum and continuity and that was the downfall for the game. But going forward to this week's game, we've worked very hard on our set-piece and we tried brushing up the errors we made last weekend," Am told reporters in Durban on Tuesday.

Am said the Bulls did well to capitalise on their mistakes.

"They got a lot of energy from set-piece where they managed to kind of dominate and put us under pressure. I believe if it wasn't for the set-piece errors then we could have been in for [all] money.

"I think it's always tough playing at Loftus, but I don't think it bruised our confidence that much. We knew what went wrong and we'll definitely try to rectify that this week."

Am added that the Sharks would stick to the game plan that saw them top the regular Super Rugby season standings before Covid-19 brought a halt to proceedings.

"We've been working hard on our game model, it's just that we've struggled to do it against the Bulls. But it's still too early for us to be questioning how we play. We've seen it work before and we're backing our game model. Going into this weekend, there shouldn't be many changes [with regards] to the style of rugby that we're playing.

"It's a matter of just clicking - unfortunately we had errors at set-piece and maybe that might be influenced by the rustiness. But we've got the majority of the personnel we had in Super Rugby, so it should click any time."

Am expects a tough encounter against the Pumas, who narrowly lost 42-37 to the Stormers at Mbombela Stadium last weekend.

"Historically, whenever we've played against the Pumas, it's always been a close and tough game. Coming from a loss, going to Mbombela, we know it's going to be a tough outing, so we're geared up, ready and prepared for the Pumas.

"The Pumas have a pretty balanced team, they've got a lot of energy with ball in hand. It's going to be interesting playing them there at home, but we've analysed them, seeing opportunities and threats and we'll take it from there on Saturday"

The Springbok midfielder added that the Pumas were unfortunate to lose against the Stormers - a game in which they led 37-14 at one stage.

"But I think we've seen the style of play that they bring. They're a very confident team and they're a team that likes to run the ball and they're pretty solid on defence as well, so they're quite a balanced team."

Saturday's clash at Mbombela Stadium kicks off at 16:30.

Source: News24

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