A lot has been said about the Sharks 2009 Super 14 draw. So how good is this draw really?
14 Feb Stormers (away): Well it doesn’t start very well. The Stormers are looking a top tier team this season and if the warm up games are anything to go by the Sharks aren’t in for an easy win. The only difference between the two teams is the Sharks experience depth and the Sharks superior tight five. This could be the Sharks hardest game and the winner will be the team that makes the least errors.
21 Feb Lions (home): This is the only game the Sharks have to play in the crazy heat of Durban. The humidity at Kingspark tends to force the Sharks to play a very basic game plan. This should be the thing that wins the game for the Sharks. By the Sharks being reserved the Lions will battle to feed off the mistakes the Sharks tend to make when playing their expansive game.
28 Feb Chiefs (away): The Chiefs have their first home game of the season after playing two tough away games against the Crusaders and the Waratahs. This will be a big game for the Sharks as they would have had very little practice, as they would have spent most the week travelling. The positive is this the worst of their travels is over and New Zealand’s weather should still be good. The Chiefs aren’t one of New Zealand’s top three teams so after the tough start they would have had to the Super 14, they might battle against the depth of the Sharks. The outcome of this game will hinge on how John Plumtree uses his substitutes.
7 Mar Blues (away): The Blues would ordinarily be the favourites, but they don’t have the best of starts. They will be battling jet lag after three games well away from home. After playing Force, Bulls and Stormers away expect them to start battling against the Sharks in the latter part of the game.
14 Mar Reds (away): Back over the Tasman and closer to home, the Sharks should be targeting this game as definate 5 points. The Reds are battling with depth and after playing all four South African teams (three of which were played in the Republic) they should be nicely tenderised for Shark devouring.
21 Mar Force (away): The Sharks should now be smelling the bunnys and braais wafting over the Indian Ocean. Although the Sharks tend to suffer from one-foot-on-the-plane-syndrome, the success of the tour should carry them through the game. The Force haven’t had the best of times at home and the Sharks won’t make it any easier. The Sharks should be very disappointed if they don’t win at least 3 of the tour games.
28 Mar Brumbies (home): The weather in Durban should now have cooled enough to allow the Sharks the chance to open up all valves for the Kingspark faithful. The speed of the Sharks should overcome the defence of the Brumbie pensioners. Expect the Sharks to flog the dead horse in the last 20 minutes.
4 Apr Hurricanes (home): This will be a good game for the Sharks to test themselves against a physical team, and as long as they don’t get bogged down with the dirty play of the Hurricanes, they should weather the storm easily.
11 Apr Cheetahs (away): The curse of the Shark’s development team has broken. The Cheetahs have regularly been a stumbling block for the Sharks, but since Rassies departure, they have battled against the depth of the Sharks.
18 Apr Crusaders (home): With the away games now complete, the Sharks can now focus on consolidating their position on top of the log. Crusaders aren’t an easy team, but their disadvantage is they come into this game after a bye. Byes tend to hinder teams as it messes with their flow. This game will be decided in the first 30 minutes. The Crusaders are traditionally slow starters, so some early tries by the Sharks could put the Crusaders under heavy pressure. If the Sharks are ten points up come half time, expect the second half to be an all Sharks affair.
2 May Highlanders (home): The Sharks should be a bit dis-orientated, but fresh after their bye and who better to play than one of the wooden spoon contenders. This game will start slow, but will open up as the Sharks get back into the swing.
9 May Waratahs (home): Grudge match time. The Waratahs and Bryce Lawrence were the stumbling block that ruined the Sharks season last year. Expect the Sharks to play Phil Waugh out the game. As long as they look after the ball at the break downs, the Waratahs won’t have enough to take the match.
16 May Bulls (home): The Sharks should by now have secured their home semi-final and will look to this game as a preparation game. As it is the last pool match Sharks will know what they need. Even if the Sharks need to secure points in this game, the Bulls aren’t as strong as they have been in the past and it shouldn’t be to hard to butcher them blue.
So looking at the games individually the fixture list does favour the Sharks this year and as has been said before the Sharks only real opposition is themselves. Go Sharks, it is yours to lose.Tweet