DURBAN – The fantastic thing about rugby is that you get a second chance to beat a team that got one over you in a previous encounter – that is how Sharks prop Thomas du Toit feels about the Sharks’ return to Loftus on Saturday to play the Bulls after they lost heavily there four weeks ago.
At SuperFan Saturday, South African rugby’s resumption after the national lockdown eased, the Sharks were blown off the park by the Bulls to the tune of 35-0 after 22 minutes, but now they return a different animal, and with important Super Rugby Unlocked log points up for grabs.
“Redemption is what we have mentally been dwelling on this week,” tighthead prop Du Toit said yesterday. “We want to fix the mistakes we made that day, and redeem ourselves.”
The Sharks had a deplorable start that day, and Du Toit says a repeat is out of the question.
“A better start is obviously something we have spoken about a lot this last week, and we have practised it – avoiding it is something we have pinpointed during our bye week,” Du Toit said.
The Sharks beat the Lions in round one of Super Rugby Unlocked only to have a break in momentum last week with an untimely bye.
“There are pros and cons to having an early bye, but at the end of the day, whatever the competition and whatever the break you have, you are here to play rugby,” Du Toit said.
“So it doesn’t bug us!”
Du Toit will be in the vanguard of an inevitable forwards showdown, and one the Bulls possibly edged in that early season game.
“The set piece fight is never the same from week to week, and it doesn’t really matter what happened last week or the week before, because it keeps evolving,” he said.
“It is always a different battle – no team is the same, and each week the tactics change, although there are certain things that never change in the front-row confrontations and we have worked hard on those basics in training this week, because it is a strength of theirs and we have accepted the challenge.”
Back in February, at the beginning of Super Rugby, the Sharks’ set piece struggled, but they quickly fixed it and by the time the competition was paused in mid-March, the Sharks’ set piece was immaculate.
“Of course we will fix it again,” Du Toit said when it was pointed out that the Sharks’ set piece creaked and groaned against the Lions two weeks ago. “If we look at our scrum, with Dylan (Richardson) still being new, and Ox Nche and myself having been there for a while – we all know the destructive power of Ox, so I am really excited to see how our scrum progresses each week.
“We are still gelling, but this week is a good time for us to get into our stride again.”