I’m afraid that for us Sharks fans, it’s time, once again, to take a sobering look at the facts of the situation. It’s going to take a minor miracle for us to reach the play-offs of this year’s Super 14.
With two games remaining, the Sharks are on 32 points. We still have the Cheetahs and the Chiefs to play, both at King’s Park. Winning both of these matches – and scoring four tries in each – will nett us 42 points, which will only be enough to squeak fourth spot should a whole bunch of other results go our way. This in itself is no small ask. Although the Cheetahs struggle to beat sides reduced to 13 men, you can be assured that they will raise their game against the hated Durbanites, whom they accuse of “stealing all our players”. The Chiefs, themselves hell-bent on finishing in the top four will be smarting after their unexpected loss against the Force and, having annihilated the hapless Lions the week before, will fancy their chances of toppling the Sharks in the final round-robin match of this year’s competition.
The Sharks and Chiefs, though, along with the Blues, are really now the outsiders in this race. The Crusaders have first spot all but sown up and barring the tamest of capitulations in either of their remaining games (against the lowly Highlanders and Reds) will top the standings by a considerable margin. The Waratahs, Hurricanes and Stormers are the sides most likely to occupy the next three spots, although crucial games in the next fortnight will go a long way to determining the order in which they finish, as well as seeing whether any of them fall out of the reckoning altogether.
For the Sharks, it’s going to be the Stormers-Waratahs match on which their hinges hope. The Sydney-siders now look most vulnerable, as they have the toughest assignments left. For our lads to sneak 4th, we need the Stormers to ensure the Tahs get no points next weekend and then again hope for the Reds to keep the score down in the State of the Union clash the week later. The other possibility is that the Force surprise the Hurricanes in Wellington, leaving the New Zealanders vulnerable going into their final round clash with the improving Blues.
Either way, it’s a bit of a long shot. Time to start thinking about the Currie Cup, I would think. Again.Tweet