KSA Shark ©

Crunch time for SA hopes


Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :Super 14 on 14 Apr 2008 at 09:40

With the business end of the Super 14 looming large, the pre-tournament prophecy of Springbok coach Peter de Villiers does not seem as fanciful as it did a couple of weeks ago.

Gavin Rich writes for Superrugby that back in February, before the 2008 edition of the southern hemisphere regional competition kicked off, De Villiers raised eyebrows by suggesting that there would be three South African teams in the semi-finals.

There definitely won’t be that many, and it should be of some concern to South African rugby bosses that three local teams currently occupy the last three positions on the log.

But with the Stormers suddenly so strongly in the frame for a semi-final, and the Sharks continuing on the winning vein that they have been on all season, there could well be two teams in the playoffs – and could have been three had the champion Bulls not exploded as spectacularly as they have.

The Bulls did not do any of the other South African teams any favours with their inept display against the Hurricanes. It was assumed by most critics that now that the Bulls had arrived back at Loftus, they would pick up their old momentum.

It seemed a reasonable assumption based on the way the Bulls had played in two unlucky losing efforts against the Blues and the Force in their last overseas matches.

League match

They were never in the game against the Hurricanes, conceding an early converted try and then just falling apart later on as the Hurricanes became the second New Zealand team this season to put 50 points past the Bulls at Loftus.

That was not something you could have imagined when the Bulls finished 2007 with such a flourish, smashing the Reds with a 90 pointer in their last league match.

There again, it has been a bizarre season for the Bulls, for they lost to that same Reds team 40-8 a couple of weeks ago in Brisbane.

By the time the competition has run its course, it may well be that the only notable achievement of the Bulls would have been the blow they landed on the Stormers challenge in the opening week – still only one of two Bulls wins this season, the other being against the equally impotent Lions.

How the Stormers must wish they had taken their chances against the Bulls and won that opening match. Had they done so, they would have 27 or 28 log points now, and would be comfortably ensconced in the top three.

As it is though they do have a great chance of reaching the top four, with this week’s hugely important clash with the Hurricanes at Newlands representing a chance for them to move into the frame. They are currently seventh, but several teams are log-jammed on almost the same number of points.

Banking on that now

Two of those teams have also played more games than the Stormers, while others are set to cancel each other out in the coming weeks.

The next fortnight will be critical for Jean de Villiers’ men, as after the Hurricanes they face the Waratahs, currently fourth. Of course, the Bulls could also do the Stormers a favour by knocking over the Waratahs, but no-one will be banking on that now.

The Stormers showed against the Cheetahs that they do have the class to go all the way.

Although there were only 12 points in it at the end and the Cheetahs outscored the hosts 19-10 in the second half, the match was effectively over as a contest by half time, when the Stormers led 24-3 and had already scored four tries to clinch a bonus point.

As that would suggest, the Stormers played confident rugby, with backs and forwards both excelling on a day which many in the crowd considered the best they had experienced at Newlands during a Super rugby season for quite some time.

The Cape side could be the form SA team at the moment, as the Sharks continued to fall some way short of their best effort against the Highlanders.

Surprise

It will be pointed out by Durbanites that the Sharks did win, that they are second on the log, but that old argument that “they have to hit the straps sometime, it is just around the corner”, is starting to get a little tired.

At the same time, it does need to be noted that the Highlanders raised their game in Dunedin, and the young players in that team have grown immeasurably in confidence in the past few weeks. They could yet cause a surprise or two when they come to South Africa.

The Sharks now go into a critical few weeks in which they play the Waratahs, Brumbies and Crusaders, all teams who are challenging at present. If they win the next two, they should be able to go into the Crusaders game, the last of their tour, knowing that they have secured a semi-final place.

It was a weekend for away victories, with just the Stormers and Crusaders winning at home.

The Blues go into their bye fortnight in danger of falling out of the list of teams challenging after a second successive defeat, this time to the Brumbies, while the Waratahs are up and running after a good result against the Western Force.

WEEKEND RESULTS

Highlanders 17 Sharks 19
Blues 11 Brumbies 16
Force 12 Waratahs 17
Stormers 34 Cheetahs 22
Bulls 22 Hurricanes 50



26 Comments

  • but that old argument that “they have to hit the straps sometime, it is just around the corner”, is starting to get a little tired.

    Getting a bit tired indeed…but the upside is the results keep coming…and that’s why this argument keeps coming up.

  • Comment 1, posted at 14.04.08 10:11:08 by blackshark (YNWA) Reply
    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player
     
  • Steyn definately does NOT belong at 13. If Dick doesn’t know where to use him, he should drop him.

  • Comment 2, posted at 14.04.08 10:22:59 by Kal-El Reply
    Kal-ElCurrie Cup player
     
  • It’s CRUNCH-TIME for us…the next 3 games will require everything we have. So if we don’t hit the straps now…we never will…

  • Comment 3, posted at 14.04.08 10:31:58 by blackshark (YNWA) Reply
    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player
     
  • They still haven’t lost a game so im not going to say anything.

  • Comment 4, posted at 14.04.08 10:36:51 by Clayton Reply
    Administrator
    Clayton(PJLD)Team captain
     
  • Yes …but we don’t want a situation of 8 games without a loss followed by 3 straight losses. Don’t want to sound like a LOSER…but if we don’t pull up our socks we can slide faster that you can say “BLUES”…

    Come on you SHARKS! :mad:

  • Comment 5, posted at 14.04.08 10:40:33 by blackshark (YNWA) Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player
     
  • Kal-El,

    Dick Muir won’t drop him, still unsure about where Fransie should actually play… :roll:

  • Comment 6, posted at 14.04.08 11:25:01 by Charlie Reply

    CharlieSuper Rugby player
     
  • 9 Rory
    10 Fred
    11 JP
    12 Frans
    13 Waylon
    14 Odwa
    15 Stefan

    And let’s rock and roll…

    4 tries later…with 20 minutes to go…enter Ruan/ Barritt/ Adi for stability…and maybe even more tries

  • Comment 7, posted at 14.04.08 11:44:24 by blackshark (YNWA) Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player
     
  • I agree we probably need to try Frans at 12 this week

  • Comment 8, posted at 14.04.08 11:55:59 by robdylan (LTOFT) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
     
  • Fred has been pretty damn average since he arrived.

    I just think the Sharks need to play Ruan at 10.

    Not a bad back line blackshark. :cool:

  • Comment 9, posted at 14.04.08 11:56:06 by wpw (YNWA) Reply
    Author
    wpwAssistant coach
     
  • LTOFT :?: :?:

  • Comment 10, posted at 14.04.08 11:57:25 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
     
  • LTOFT???

    :?:

  • Comment 11, posted at 14.04.08 11:57:39 by wpw (YNWA) Reply
    Author
    wpwAssistant coach
     
  • great minds KSA. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 12, posted at 14.04.08 11:58:01 by wpw (YNWA) Reply
    Author
    wpwAssistant coach
     
  • :mrgreen:

  • Comment 13, posted at 14.04.08 12:00:50 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
     
  • Love Them or Fear Them

  • Comment 14, posted at 14.04.08 12:01:18 by robdylan (LTOFT) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
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  • :smile: Oh okay.

  • Comment 15, posted at 14.04.08 12:02:21 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
     
  • I am leading the Sharks Cheerleading Brigade this week… anyone noticed? ;)

  • Comment 16, posted at 14.04.08 12:12:24 by robdylan (LTOFT) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
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  • #6
    If he’s unsure where Frans should play, he sure as hell should know who should be playing in Frans’s place. :shock:

  • Comment 17, posted at 14.04.08 12:18:18 by Kal-El Reply

    Kal-ElCurrie Cup player
     
  • #16
    So you are the head cheerleder :?:

  • Comment 18, posted at 14.04.08 12:21:27 by Kal-El Reply

    Kal-ElCurrie Cup player
     
  • KE… why? What do you usually do to head cheerleaders? ;)

  • Comment 19, posted at 14.04.08 12:27:21 by robdylan (LTOFT) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
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  • Good for you Rob…we need all the positive energy we can get going to these tough games…

    Let’s leave the whining to teams that are losing …like the Bulls and Blues…

  • Comment 20, posted at 14.04.08 12:28:50 by blackshark (JAWS) Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player
     
  • Amen to that!

  • Comment 21, posted at 14.04.08 12:29:19 by robdylan (LTOFT) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
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  • cheerleaders are ALWAYS noticed and appreciated RobD :lol:

  • Comment 22, posted at 14.04.08 12:42:43 by spykerbaard Reply

    spykerbaardUnder 21 player
     
  • Love the new pic robo…

    While we were taking the frustrations game by game … Dick Muir had the whole season schedule spread out on his table.

    Conservative but effective start…big finish for the TOUR…

    Can we execute that plan to perfection? Only time will tell…

  • Comment 23, posted at 14.04.08 12:48:52 by blackshark (JAWS) Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player
     
  • has anybody thought of the following:
    9 rory
    10 ruan
    12 steyn
    13 waylon
    14 odwa
    11 jp
    15 stefan

    res: barrit
    adi
    henno

  • Comment 24, posted at 14.04.08 12:51:11 by barend Reply

    barendVodacom Cup player
     
  • Barend – MorneN would kiss you ;)

  • Comment 25, posted at 14.04.08 13:04:54 by robdylan (LTOFT) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
     
  • While I haven’t seen too many fireworks from Fred…I’d stick with him at 10. Since you can pretty much tell if it’s his day or not…I prefer him to start…do his thing…and we can take it from there. Ruan can clean up in the 2nd half…

  • Comment 26, posted at 14.04.08 13:07:21 by blackshark (JAWS) Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player
     

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