Sharks have confidence in attack on Crusaders

BRENDON EGAN
Last updated 05:00 25/07/2014
Jake White
IAIN McGREGOR/Fairfax NZ
CONFIDENT: Sharks coach Jake White shares a joke with the media in Christchurch yesterday.

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They're 10,966 kilometres from home and massive outsiders for Saturday night's Super Rugby semi-final, but Sharks coach Jake White thinks conditions could play into his side's hands.

The Durban-based team know if they want any chance of stunning the Crusaders for the second time this season, they need to stick to their strengths.

On a cold Christchurch night, the Sharks will be aiming to retain possession, build up pressure and utilise their dominant scrum and rolling maul.

The long kicking games of fullback SP Marais and backline general Francois Steyn will also be integral as they seek to play the game in the right areas of the field.

"It will be the same as what's been working for us," White said yesterday.

"In knockout rugby, you go back to the things that have been working for you and we've done those things consistently well throughout the year."

White was quick to point out his side had much more to their game than a clinical set piece. If the Crusaders turned ball over in their own half, he hoped they could capitalise.

"One would like to believe there's more to our game. The Crusaders are probably the most conservative team in New Zealand and they're consistently the best of the five New Zealand franchises.

"You've got to play to the strengths you have."

The Sharks will draw a wealth of confidence from their 30-25 triumph at AMI Stadium in May.

They were forced to overcome the adversity of losing flanker Jean Deysel to a red card in the 16th minute after he stamped on the face of Crusaders loose forward Jordan Taufua. Sharks loose forward Willem Alberts was also sinbinned in the second half for a professional foul.

White was apologetic post-match after Deysel's brain explosion. He had not had to stress the importance of discipline this week.

"It was a one-off, I think. It's not something to be proud about. It's a new week and we've got to make sure we're mindful of the fact that we've got to get a result this weekend."

White acknowledged it would be a completely different fixture on Saturday night. The Sharks respected a Crusaders team with 13 past or present All Blacks, but were not overawed by them.

"We beat them last year in Durban and we beat them this year. The reality is, this group of players have won home and away against the same batch of [Crusaders] players.

"We're confident about the fact if we play properly we can beat anybody anywhere and that's what we've got to believe, otherwise you're wasting your time."

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