Shapeless Sharks squeak past 40-minute Stormers

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Stormers, Super 14 on 25 Feb 2008 at 06:30
Tagged with :

The Sharks scored twelve unanswered points in the second half to record a scrappy 12-10 win over the Vodacom Stormers in Durban on Saturday evening. Stormers scrumhalf Ricky Januarie scored the only try of the game in the 22nd minute.

Rory KockottThe Stormers spoiled effectively in the first half, their loose trio in particular securing turnover ball at will against a Sharks outfit that appeared lethargic at the breakdowns and at times appeared woefully ignorant of exactly what would be tolerated under the experimental law variations. The home side enjoyed the lion’s share of the possession, yet for the second week in a row were often hassled off their own ball after two or three phases at play. Schalk Burger and Luke Watson hunted in tandem and put in a huge amount of work to ensure slow ball to the Sharks halfbacks.

French flyhalf Fred Michalak looked sharp on debut for the Sharks, with a number of elaborate flicks, stabs and kick-passes that did as much to confuse his team-mates as to bamboozle the opposition. One can’t fault him for trying, but it was pretty clear throughout that his personal skill level (as well as his ability to handle a slippery ball) is a notch or so above that of his teammates, particularly at this early stage of the season. Peter Grant, in contrast, endured a nightmare opening quarter and it was to the Sharks’ detriment that they failed to make anything of a surfeit of set piece opportunities courtesy of the flyahlf’s repeated fumbles and misdirected clearances.

Both teams tried hard to give the ball some width in the first half, with both JP Pietersen and Sireli Naqelevuki enjoying a few decent runs. The Sharks insistence on using a stab kick, rather than making the last pass was a pretty infuriating tactic, though. The Stormers opted rather to attempt the Wynand Olivier-inspired pass-to-the-touch-judge tactic on a number of occasions. All-in-all, a pretty mediocre showing, with the Sharks unable to score anything, despite 65% possession and a number of kickable penalty awarded. The Stormers turned ten points up, courtesy of some opportunistic play by hooker Liebenberg and Januarie, coupled with superior work at the contact points and resolute defence. Quite honestly, the Sharks looked dead and buried going into the shed at half time.

Schalk BurgerRugby is a strange game, though and for whatever reason, the Stormers found that the tactic that had worked so well for them in the first half resulted in a whitewash in the second. The Sharks introduced some fresh legs and started to play with more purpose after the break. Suddenly the Stormers found themselves battling for parity at the breakdowns and furthermore, on the wrong side of Kelvin Deaker’s whistle, more often than not. We have become accustomed to the Schalk Burger brain-fart over the years and he did not disappoint in this game, undoing all his good work in the first half by being stupidly carded in the second for an off-the ball charge.

Brian Mujati The fact that it was last week’s villain, Willie Roos, who pointed out Burger’s indiscretion did not help. The World Cup hero showed clear dissent to the assistant referee when stalking off the field, a movement repeated by his team-mate Brian Mujati a few minutes later. Both incidents were disgraceful and should result in further censure for the players concerned; more disastrous from a Stormers point of view was that they seemingly allowed their “Roos vendetta” to distract them from the task at hand, losing the match in the process. Roos is a poor ref, there is no doubt about that, but the Stormers need to realise that his bad calls against them are a result of ineptitude, rather than malice or bias. In this case, though, he got it spot on and Burger deserved to walk. Ruan Pienaar finally managed to put points on the board from the resulting penalty and it was pretty much all-Sharks from then on.

Pienaar himself departed the field with what looked like a serious shoulder injury, allowing eventual hero Rory Kockott to take over at scrumhalf. Kockott made an immediate impact, over and above the three further penalties he slotted to give the Sharks the win. Coupled with the Sharks pack coming into their own, Kockott played the traditional scrumhalf role to perfection, securing quick, clean possession for the men outside him, all the while cajoling Deaker and irritating his opposition with well-timed chirps. He’s a player for the big points, is Rocket and I don’t believe that his influence on this game can be overestimated. It was a quirk of Supersport’s “lottery system” that the man-of-the-match went to the frankly underwhelming Ryan Kankowski, when it quite clearly belonged to the 20-year-old in the number 20 shirt. “Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone”, as Elton John would have put it.

The Stormers managed to get another bloke binned shortly after Burger’s return, with replacement centre Dylan des Fountain spending the last ten minutes of the game in the cooler after a number of persistent ruck infringements. Poor Jean de Villiers could do nothing but look on in dismay as Deaker blew penalty after penalty for the same kinds of mistakes that saw short-arms awarded when the Sharks committed a similar offence. Pretty inconcsistent, these ELV’s are, or at least, that seems to be the way the refs are interpreting. Still, 60% possession and a far stronger second-half display meant that, on the balance of probability, the right side probably got the points on the day. Kind of. Just.

Rassie will be an unhappy man, though. For the second week in a row, his charges were absolutely rampant in the first half, only to go scoreless in the second. Clearly he doesn’t have the depth on the bench that he needs to ensure the momentum is retained and although Mujati and Fondse might be tyros in the tight phases, their replacements, Harris, Skeate and the rest, clearly are not. The Stormers need to deliver a focused, committed performance throughout and will need to get over their petulance when decisions don’t go their way. It’s only going to get tougher for the Cape side, though, with the Crusaders in rampant form next up. Expect Burger to get a few weeks in the stands, following his temper tantrum. If he isn’t booked for that, then SARU clearly have no balls whatsoever.

As for the Sharks, well, shit chaps… You can’t play like that and expect to get anywhere near a semi-final. Not in this competition. Another get-out-of-jail performance and the only positive for the coaching staff this week was that the squad had enough depth and experience to pull a win out of the fire. That has got to be an encouraging sign. God knows, there weren’t too many others.


Stormers: A try by Ricky Januarie. A conversion and a penalty by Peter Grant.
Sharks: A penalty by Ruan Pienaar. Three further penalties by Rory Kockott.


  • For the Stormers… RJ seems to be improving each week… and the Fijian should be used more…

    For the Sharks… their standing flat-flooted and bunched up on attack needs working… not to mention woeful passing… think Ndungane should have played in the VC to get back into the swing of things…

    Article covers most everything else, well written…

  • Comment 1, posted at 25.02.08 07:49:04 by bryce_in_oz Reply
    bryce_in_ozCurrie Cup player
  • Sorry Rob

    don’t mean to pick on you but.

    1) I would call them 70 minute Stormers. :oops:
    2) Stealing our ball almost at will at the rucks is not spoiling that is great work. :wink:

  • Comment 2, posted at 25.02.08 08:04:08 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
  • Agree with Bryce…also think Ndungane should have played VC to get game fit. And what is going on with JP?? He just isn’t in the game so far this year.

  • Comment 3, posted at 25.02.08 08:08:17 by Reds Reply
    RedsVodacom Cup player
  • JPP showed (even if it was only once) that he is not as slow as everybody complains about.

    Chavanga is supposed to be this speed freak and JPP matched him easily when they were going shoulder to shoulder down the line, other than that he needs to regain some of his form.

  • Comment 4, posted at 25.02.08 08:12:54 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
  • Yeah I was watching JPP this weekend again… he has upped his work rate this season (chasing every kick, making tackles, hitting rucks and joining mauls :shock: ) and his reading of the game is improving every game… he just needs to be given the damn ball more in space with pace… and run it not kick…

  • Comment 5, posted at 25.02.08 08:19:37 by bryce_in_oz Reply
    bryce_in_ozCurrie Cup player
  • The performance was just not good enough. We should’ve scored a couple of tries…especially in the second half. I don’t know why we were so reluctant to run the ball to the last man by hand…to give him the option to cut in…those little kicks were frustrating. I also thought Jacques Botes took a bit too long to offload the ball at times.

    Good debut for Michalak and thanks for that tackle…

  • Comment 6, posted at 25.02.08 08:31:20 by blackshark Reply
    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player
  • BS

    OH YEAH!!!! great tackle by Michalak not only took the guy down but dislodged the ball as well.

  • Comment 7, posted at 25.02.08 08:35:21 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
  • I think it’s good in a way that we are struggling in some departments BUT still winning.We don’t have major problems …just a few irritating things that can be sorted out in a matter of days or weeks.

    I’m sure DM and his crew will be working hard this week and we’ll see a sharper Sharks side on Saturday.

  • Comment 8, posted at 25.02.08 09:04:38 by blackshark Reply
    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player
  • The Sharks were in the same shape last year this time.

    We will improve as the season goes along and we will be there come 31 May.

  • Comment 9, posted at 25.02.08 09:11:27 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
  • Mike Greenaway reports that Pienaar will miss the Loftus trip

  • Comment 10, posted at 25.02.08 10:32:31 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • So do you think it will be a matter of a straight swop with Kockott or do you see other changes. Odwa was blowing hot ad cold but I would give him another run.

  • Comment 11, posted at 25.02.08 10:38:10 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player
  • I’m still thinking through my proposed changes, BS… I will put up a piece tomorrow.

    Something is definitely not right…

  • Comment 12, posted at 25.02.08 10:41:58 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • Anyone see how Macleod played on Saturday?

    I’m not too worried about putting a scrummie on the bench, because Fred can cover 9

  • Comment 13, posted at 25.02.08 10:44:03 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • Nice piece Rob, but I dont agree with quite everything. :wink:

    I dont think that the Stormers ran “rampant” in the first half – half-time stas showed the Sharks leading in the possession and territory stakes.

    The second half was different in that the Sharks caught more balls and actually moved the ball wide on occasion – largely because of my MOM- Rory Kockott.

    The Stormers Tight 5 was pretty good in both halves, but the Sharks still had the edge. A big difference in the battle for the ball on the ground in the respective halves was simply that Rassie out-though Muir.

    You would have noted that the Stormers committed multiple tacklers to our charging forwards, and were thus able to stop them gaining much ground and slow down/ steal the ball. this was possible because they werent overly-concerned at over-committing at the ruck since we didnt move the ball very much wider from each contact point – hence they could scramble from tackle to tackle.

    In the second half the Sharks started to move the ball wide, and suddenly the gang-tackling meant that the Stormers were slower to get up to tackle (hence the increase in space) and also they had less guys to commit to the ruck – hence the increased infringements.

    Simply put, the Sharks can be a helluva lot more effective under the ELVs by giving the ball air.

    But everybody knew this already. :wink:

  • Comment 14, posted at 25.02.08 10:52:04 by Big Fish Reply
    Big FishAssistant coach
  • Rory Kockott is your mom? My god, you look nothing like him ;)

  • Comment 15, posted at 25.02.08 10:54:12 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • Yes Rob… and Rob (wheeze)… I am your father Rob (wheeze)… :grin:

  • Comment 16, posted at 25.02.08 10:59:30 by Big Fish Reply
    Big FishAssistant coach
  • you mean I’m not white?

    Does Mom know?

    What movie is that from…? ;)

  • Comment 17, posted at 25.02.08 11:02:18 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • Rory Kockott is your mom? My god, you look nothing like him

    25.02.08 10:54:12 – robdylan

    :lol: :lol: :lol:

    bigfish – I don’t know if I would’ve used “rampant” either.
    We were unlucky to go into halftime at 10-3 because we had a number of scoring opportunities. That said, we were also lucky in a way because the Stormers had one or two good opportunities to widen that gap in the first half. There was a point where Ricky Januarie was a thorn and I couldn’t believe my eyes… :shock:

  • Comment 18, posted at 25.02.08 11:07:58 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player
  • guys… you ever heard of “artistic licence”? Sheesh!

  • Comment 19, posted at 25.02.08 11:11:27 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • 25.02.08 11:07:58 – blackshark

    Agree b-s – the Sharks were worse at wasting opportunities though – was like watching Mr Magoo.

  • Comment 20, posted at 25.02.08 11:38:46 by Big Fish Reply
    Big FishAssistant coach
  • Heard on the radio this morning that Schalk has a disciplinary hearing and so do JP Nel and a few others.

  • Comment 21, posted at 25.02.08 11:50:33 by Nessa Reply

    NessaCurrie Cup player
  • Just saw that KSA wrote an article on that :oops: . Teach me to read before I blog!

  • Comment 22, posted at 25.02.08 11:53:05 by Nessa Reply

    NessaCurrie Cup player
  • actually, I wrote it ;)

  • Comment 23, posted at 25.02.08 12:02:22 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • Ooops! :???:

  • Comment 24, posted at 25.02.08 12:03:40 by Nessa Reply

    NessaCurrie Cup player

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