Hargreaves and Daniel the key men

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Bulls, Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 5 Sep 2008 at 09:24
Tagged with : , ,

It’s shaping up to be a real belter in Durban on Saturday, with the two front-running sides meeting in a mouth-watering top-of-the-table clash in the ABSA Currie Cup.

Both the 1st-placed Blue Bulls and the 2nd-placed Sharks have only lost twice so far in this year’s competition, with a single point separating them on the log. The winner of Saturday’s game will be assured of top spot heading into next week and will make huge strides in their own quest to host a semi-final this year. The loser may well end up third, should Free State manage to squeak home against Western Province.

Both sides have taken the opportunity to bolster their teams with returning Springboks and for the Bulls, this means they again boast a formidable second row, comprising stand-in Bok skipper Victor Matfield and the uncompromising Danie Rossouw. Number 8 Pierre Spies is also back in the mix and it’s a pretty clear indication of the loose-forward depth at the Bulls that they have opted to leave Pedrie Wannenberg out of the 22 altogether this weekend.

Matches against the Bulls will always be lost if your pack doesn’t stand up to theirs. They are masters of set-piece play and are particularly strong at the tackle point, committing big men in numbers to ensure slow ball for their opposition. The Sharks forwards have been in mean form of late and were particularly good in this area themselves against Western Province, their most recent game against decent opposition. Bok props Jannie du Plessis and Deon Carstens will have the edge over the Bulls’ duo of Jaco Engels and Werner Kruger, while each side has a hooker prone to alternating bursts of brilliance and mediocrity. In Bismarck du Plessis and Pat Cilliers, the Sharks have an exciting duo able to add impact in the front row coming from the bench. The Bulls have Springboks Guthro Steenkamp and Chilliboy Rallepele, together with a second prop, Rayno Gerber, on the bench.

In the second row, the Sharks will look to young Alistair Hargreaves to build on some promising performances of late when he joins captain Johann Muller in the second row. Muller himself is just coming back from injury and Hargreavs will need to play out of his socks to combat the physical threat posed by Rossouw and his pals. Coach John Plumtree seems to be covering his bases reasonably well here, with two regular locks, Albert van den Berg and Steven Sykes, named among the replacements.

The selection is an interesting one, given that the Sharks will have Keegan Daniel at number 8. Although the livewire Daniel has been in superb form of late, using his high workrate and superb pace to telling effect, one cannot argue that his lack of bulk potentially swings the arguement the way of the Bulls, particularly in a close, driving game. While Jean Deysel is a force of nature that not even the Bulls can hope to contain, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to see Sykes come on to add some bulk to the back row if we end up losing ground in the forwards. The other option, of course, is to let Sykes partner Muller at lock and introduce van den Berg amongst the loosies. Skollie Ndlovu will presumably also have a role to play, while one shouldn’t underestimate the impace that blonde bombshell Dewald Potgieter could have for the visitors.

One runs the risk here, though, of weighing up players based on their ability to counter their opponents, though, rather than evaluating them on their own strengths. This is an area in which the selection of Daniel, in particular, may well be a masterstroke. Keegan has pace and skill aplenty and seems to love playing against the Bulls, who struggle to keep up wit the sheer intensity he brings to the game. If Deysel can keep Pierre Spies busy and potentially take his huge frame out of the equations, Keegan Daniel has more than enough guile to outwit the larger, yet slower Wikus van Heerden.

Hargreaves is also far more of a ball-player than Rossouw is and given Matfield’s propensity for playing loose, perhaps the combination with Muller may prove enough. Muller certainly doesn’t stand back an inch at the contact point. making the match up potentially even more entertaining.

In short, expect the forward battle to decide the outcome of the match, as it so often does. For the Sharks, Daniel and Hargreaves are the key men, as they will have the most to prove in a battle such as this. For the Bulls, it’s their perhaps underrated front-row who will need to show their mettle.


  • man, I hope the Sharks can pull this one off, but I’m nervous.

  • Comment 1, posted at 05.09.08 10:00:53 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • There might be some backs playing as well Rob. :wink:

  • Comment 2, posted at 05.09.08 10:01:39 by Big Fish Reply
    Big FishAssistant coach
  • “if we end up losing ground in the forwards.” :mrgreen:

    Up till there you managed to stay reasonably impartial. :lol:

    Good article though. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 3, posted at 05.09.08 10:02:51 by Silver Fox Reply

    Silver FoxCurrie Cup player
  • @Big Fish (Comment 2) : yes, but whichever team’s pack loses will lose the match. As usual.

    @Silver Fox (Comment 3) : I never claimed to be impartial. Check the URL :mrgreen:

  • Comment 4, posted at 05.09.08 10:08:20 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
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  • @robdylan (Comment 4) :
    Not quite – the game starts with the forwards, but is often finished by the backs – attacking or defending.

    FDP against Ruan, Steyn against Frog, and even the midfield battle should be interesting, and definitive.

  • Comment 5, posted at 05.09.08 10:13:31 by Big Fish Reply
    Big FishAssistant coach
  • :shock: Just looking at the Bulls team again.

    Why have they named a loosie (Dewald Potgieter) at 22 Are they trying to sneak an extra loosie into the team without us noticing?

  • Comment 6, posted at 05.09.08 10:22:58 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 6) : they always do that. Never understood it myself.

    @Big Fish (Comment 5) : ok, so since you are at home today, why not write the second half of the arti? You know I know f-all about backs! ;)

  • Comment 7, posted at 05.09.08 10:25:02 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • @robdylan (Comment 7) :
    Shoulda seen that coming! :lol:

    Need to go to Provincial Traffic Department now – if I return today, there will be something fishy up for you. :wink:

  • Comment 8, posted at 05.09.08 10:27:47 by Big Fish Reply
    Big FishAssistant coach
  • Steyn’s chance to settle in midfield

    by Gavin Rich | 04 September 2008

    Frans Steyn will get a chance to show his ability to settle in a position many felt he could have filled for the Springboks in the recent Tri-Nations when he plays for the Sharks in their crucial Absa Currie Cup clash with the Blue Bulls on Saturday.

    Adrian Jacobs was one of the more successful Peter de Villiers selections in the southern hemisphere international season, scoring some good tries and producing a startling number of line breaks. However, there were times when Steyn’s prodigious kicking boot, plus his physical presence, could have come in handy, with Jacobs’s tendency to drift in and out of games perhaps making him better suited to an impact role.

    With Jaque Fourie apparently impressing the Bok management when he was part of the national squad and thus sure to play once he returns from his injury problems, a couple of solid performances from Steyn could help build up the depth in a position where SA are potentially week.

    It will be interesting to see how the Sharks accommodate Jacobs when he returns from the minor injury keeping him out of this match for until recently he mainly played off the substitute’s bench for the Durban union. Steyn could of course move to fullback, which many consider his best position, but that would be unfair on the perennially steady veteran Stefan Terblanche.

    Sharks coach John Plumtree and his assistant Grant Bashford certainly have a couple of pleasant conundrums to look forward to when they choose their teams for future matches, particularly at the back, where the utility value of Steyn and Ruan Pienaar creates options which may have backfired on the Sharks when Dick Muir, now the Bok assistant, was coaching them in the Super 14.

    Certainly the inability to settle on combinations counted against the Sharks in the Super 14, as did their approach to back play, but just recently the Sharks have started to show an aptitude for a more direct approach which is starting to pay off for them.

    Pienaar plays scrumhalf against the Bulls, and it is of course his preferred position, but the try he scored from flyhalf against Australia will not be forgotten in a hurry, and Rory Kockott is now over his injury problems and was the SA scrumhalf find of the season in the Super 14.

    Springbok JP Pietersen is on the bench this week and will also be looking for a place in the starting team in future matches.

    Up front the future options are no less intriguing. Deon Carstens starts against the Bulls, but Beast Mtwarirara is also now a Springbok, and a good one at that, while the impressive youngster Pat Cilliers must be itching to get more game-time at Currie Cup level.

    The Sharks pack has had a much better balance to it ever since Jean Deysel moved into the back row and the most recent Absa Currie Cup player of the month will be a key man against the formidable Bulls unit.

  • Comment 9, posted at 05.09.08 10:33:10 by Charlie Reply

    CharlieSuper Rugby player
  • See old Gavin Rich is still trying to have a go at Adi Jacobs in favour of Fransie Steyn…IMO, Rich’s a joke :lol: :roll: :mrgreen:

  • Comment 10, posted at 05.09.08 10:35:13 by Charlie Reply

    CharlieSuper Rugby player
  • @Charlie (Comment 10) :

    But then again you would like Ashfak Mohamed if he did a piece singing your priases :wink: :lol:

  • Comment 11, posted at 05.09.08 10:37:04 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
  • As interesting as the individual matchups are going to be, its the whole team gelling that’s going to be decisive… that means everyone plays their part, no-one can afford to go missing here, and the Sharks have been superb with this lately

  • Comment 12, posted at 05.09.08 10:38:28 by spykerbaard Reply

    spykerbaardVodacom Cup player
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 11) : The difference is that Rich’s bias writing style had been coming a long way with doubts regarding Jacobs Bok call up, but just look at the results…outstanding IMO :twisted:

  • Comment 13, posted at 05.09.08 10:41:43 by Charlie Reply

    CharlieSuper Rugby player
  • @spykerbaard (Comment 12) :

    Amen to that.

  • Comment 14, posted at 05.09.08 10:44:00 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
  • @Charlie (Comment 9) :

    So now the Boks need an outside centre who can kick???

    What the hell next??? A fetcher who can play flyhalf?

    Oh wait, we already have one: Luke Watson :mrgreen:

  • Comment 15, posted at 05.09.08 10:51:57 by wpw Reply
    wpwAssistant coach
  • @Big Fish (Comment 8) : ‘if I return today’ :lol:

  • Comment 16, posted at 05.09.08 10:53:13 by Silver Fox Reply

    Silver FoxCurrie Cup player
  • @wpw (Comment 15) : :mrgreen:

  • Comment 17, posted at 05.09.08 11:02:04 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • @wpw (Comment 15) : Journo flu… :roll:

  • Comment 18, posted at 05.09.08 11:24:02 by Charlie Reply

    CharlieSuper Rugby player
  • so I see fish is back…

  • Comment 19, posted at 05.09.08 14:08:09 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • nah frans and stefan are the key men. wp showed last week that the bulls scrum is vulnerable and that was with a b side pack. However where WP paid was their pointless kicking to mametsa and tiger who dessimated the wp backs. stefan cannot afford to kick good ball away and frans needs to make tackles. his defence has been leaky lately and we cannot afford any missed tackles.

  • Comment 20, posted at 05.09.08 14:11:31 by try time Reply

    Super Rugby player
  • I am still perplexed as why Pienaar insists that he only wants to play scrum half. He proved on saturday that he has all the skills in the world to be an international flyhalf.
    I persoannly would prefer to see Rory at 9 and Pienaar at 10. This could be the long term solution for both the Sahrks as well as the Bok setup.
    But on the other hand ( Darren) the contest tomorrow between FduP and Pienaar will be worth the price of admission alone.

  • Comment 21, posted at 05.09.08 14:21:00 by Ragged Reply

    RaggedVodacom Cup player
  • @Ragged (Comment 21) : bad advice. I blame dad

  • Comment 22, posted at 05.09.08 14:26:29 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
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  • what i do like is than plum has split the impact players. he starts with a few and ends with a few. he doesn’t start with the bulldozers and end with the sprinters. it is a good idea. it means the team will be solid throughout.

  • Comment 23, posted at 05.09.08 14:27:27 by try time Reply

    Super Rugby player
  • Rob I told you so long ago, Daniels & Halgreave. Must say its a bit stupid not to pick our new national hero, the Beast & Bismarck for this one. That may hurt you lot.

  • Comment 24, posted at 05.09.08 14:32:03 by PaarlBok Reply

    PaarlBokCurrie Cup player
  • @PaarlBok (Comment 24) : I reckon the thinking here is not to go all out in this one match and risk losing them to injury. As nice as a win would be in this match, a loss would not be a total trainsmash. Losing Bis or Beast to a long-term injury would be far more damaging to the campaign.

  • Comment 25, posted at 05.09.08 14:38:18 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • @PaarlBok (Comment 24) : it is daniel, no “s” as i found out when i was chastised for mispelling his name by a family member. so rob you have it right. as for starting with beast and bis, bis has admitted to being a little tender from the tests, so rather protect them for when their services are really needed. besides the bulls showed last week you don’t need a big pack to beat them. matfield will weaken them more.

  • Comment 26, posted at 05.09.08 14:38:39 by try time Reply

    Super Rugby player
  • @PaarlBok (Comment 24) : I do not think that there is any panic in the Shark camp, the front row has setteled look about it. It is also great to see young Patric Cilliers on the bench, this boy is going to be a legend( I only pray that his injury is well healed and that he does not suffer such a castasrophy again, also that the Sharks can retain him in their fold) I have never been a great fan of Skipper but this season he has put his hand up and has surprised me and I am sure several others out there.
    Try Time, good analysis of the split between impact players on the bench, I just feel that we are perhaps one quality loose forward short.
    Some dodgy weather could also be a factor… cold front on the way? This could benefit the Bulls should it be a 10 man game.

  • Comment 27, posted at 05.09.08 14:47:51 by Ragged Reply

    RaggedVodacom Cup player
  • All I am trying to say to you, beware of the Bull, the scars they’ll or you could leave maybe bigger then you thinks.

    Must be a vrekkin particilar type that worry about the S. Vrekken hell my surname get screwed so much I couldnt care. Its the man behind the surname that count.

    Myself a big fan of Daniel……s and Haargraf from long time ago.

  • Comment 28, posted at 05.09.08 14:49:24 by PaarlBok Reply

    PaarlBokCurrie Cup player
  • @Ragged (Comment 27) : Dont think the weather will be a problem. This side it was summer this time yesterday, rained over night and its clear now, so it dont look like a heavy front.

  • Comment 29, posted at 05.09.08 14:51:14 by PaarlBok Reply

    PaarlBokCurrie Cup player
  • @Ragged (Comment 27) : agree – we need one more seriously GOOD loosie in the squad.

    Why aren’t they giving Justin Downey a run?

  • Comment 30, posted at 05.09.08 15:01:56 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • @robdylan (Comment 22) : Now why would you wanna do that? :shock:

  • Comment 31, posted at 05.09.08 15:15:53 by Silver Fox Reply

    Silver FoxCurrie Cup player
  • @Ragged (Comment 21) : Hi Rugged/Ragged! :grin: Long time no hear.

    We all battle to understand that and to say we trust that he knows what he is doing is no great consolation.

  • Comment 32, posted at 05.09.08 15:21:25 by Silver Fox Reply

    Silver FoxCurrie Cup player
  • @Silver Fox (Comment 31) : not my dad!

  • Comment 33, posted at 05.09.08 15:22:33 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • @robdylan (Comment 33) : That’s obvious! :roll: :roll:

    Dad Gysie!!!

  • Comment 34, posted at 05.09.08 15:24:45 by Silver Fox Reply

    Silver FoxCurrie Cup player
  • @robdylan (Comment 30) : There was a lot of hype around him a before S14, is he at least playing club rugby? Living in Joburg I ahve lost touch with the Durban/ Natal club circuit. Steven Sykes has been tried at No.7 and has been found wanting, he lacks pace and does not have the vision, unlike Danie Rossouw. It is therefore more of a pity that the Sharks did not secure Nico Breedt before the Cheetahs snapped him up.
    Does anyone know what the prognosis is on Kankowski, his return to the frat will be the obvious panacea for the problem.

  • Comment 35, posted at 05.09.08 15:52:37 by Ragged Reply

    RaggedVodacom Cup player
  • Is Al Hargo making the step up?

  • Comment 36, posted at 06.09.08 17:29:16 by bryce_in_oz Reply

    bryce_in_ozCurrie Cup player

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