Border to wade in Shark waters
It doesn't get any easier, they are a strong team that plays with flair, says Mangweni
The Border Bulldogs head into their second tough away match in a row short on form and struggling for consistency as they travel to Durban to take on the Sharks at Jonsonn Kings Park on Saturday afternoon.
After a strong start to the season, beating the Zimbabwe Academy first up and then challenging the still unbeaten Western Province team in their second match, the Bulldogs were looking in decent shape despite their off-field difficulties.
However, their next two matches, a home mauling at the hands of the Boland Cavaliers, and then their first away match of the season, a trampling from local rivals the Eastern Province Elephants, saw the Bulldogs ship 104 points over those two games while scoring just three.
This leaves them in a difficult position as they take on the Sharks, who despite having a 50% win ratio after two losses and two wins, will be boosted by their one-point victory over the Cavaliers this past weekend.
“It doesn't get any easier, they are a strong team that plays with flair and likes to keep the ball alive, they have a number of players with Super Rugby experience, and I think they will test us in all departments,” admitted Bulldogs coach Tiger Mangweni.
“So for us we will have to be at the top of our game from the word go if we want to challenge them at all.
“We really need to shore up our defence, that has been a big problem over the last two games, conceding over 50 points in each match, so I want to see more commitment from the boys on defence and I want to see them putting their bodies on the line.”
As the old saying goes, “the best form of defence is attack”, and that is something the Bulldogs should look to take to heart as they played their best rugby of the competition when they managed to keep the ball and play well on attack, which allowed them to score nine tries in their opening two matches.
“We also need to keep hold of the ball longer, we have struggled for possession recently and that puts us under pressure as we have to defend more, so I want the guys to try hold onto the ball for a number of phases,” explained Mangweni.
“It is also important to play in the right areas of the field, so our kicking game has to be on point.”
The Sharks will be fired up for the game as they sit fourth in the South pool section and with the Elephants breathing down their necks will have to win to ensure they keep their place in the knockout positions.
For the Bulldogs they will just be aiming for a big improvement from their last two games and to give the home side a few things to think about in the match.
“It is always going to be a difficult game up there and from my side I am just hoping to see a good, dedicated performance from the guys,” said Mangweni.
The Sharks and Bulldogs kick-off at 2.30pm on Saturday...