Du Preez: Sharks' rise down to their defensive bite

Yahoo Sport UK

Sale Sharks' Rob du Preez hailed his side's impressive defence in their rise up the Gallagher Premiership table.

The Sharks’ dominant 39-0 victory over London Irish in their last outing marked a second consecutive home game without conceding a try.

Steve Diamond’s side haven’t lost at the AJ Bell Stadium in the league since October, and du Preez attributed their form to the Sharks’ defensive ability.

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Speaking before the sporting world was halted due to coronavirus, he said: “Our defence shows the love we have for each other in the team, all down our line we chase back.

“We’ve got this real desire to fight for each other and that is why our defence is so strong.

“Our defence puts pressure on a lot of teams, we force a lot of turnovers and then score a lot of tries from turnovers. They marry each other quite well.

“The most important thing is not to become complacent. When we do get complacent, you tend to be a bit off by the weekend. But the confidence is growing.”

The South-African contributed nine points to the victory over Declan Kidney’s London Irish, which took his season total to 152 points in all competitions.

Sale sit second in the Premiership looking to make the top four for the first time since 2006. Despite their recent form, the fly-half admitted that fixture congestion was an issue at the start of the season.

He said: “It was difficult in the beginning especially with Europe. But quite early on we found out that we weren’t going to make the play-offs [Heineken Champions Cup], so we then started rotating players, which is good because the season is super-long.

“You’re going to play over 30 games if you play every game, which is really tough on the body. We’ve got a big squad and I think that's important. We’ve got two sets of 15 who can compete every week.”

Next Sunday, Sale face Harlequins in the Premiership Rugby Cup final in what will be a replay of the 2013 final, which Harlequins won 32-14.

Sharks ran out 48-10 winners when the sides last met at the AJ Bell Stadium in January, and du Preez anticipates another exciting week ahead.

He said: “There will be a big buzz around the place. It’s a final week, they are always special. To win anything is always special, I’m sure the boys will be excited for it and I can’t wait.”

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