robdylan

Huge week looming for Sharks


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super 14 on 16 Mar 2009 at 10:18
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The Sharks found out this weekend, to their detriment, that, when it comes to the game of rugby, grass is a far less forgiving surface than paper. The team will need to turn the demoralising defeat around and take what positives they can in order to quickly get back on the winning track.

Saturday’s game represents a major turning-point in the fortunes of the Sharks, who, up to now, have really had virtually everything go their way in this tournament. A freakish streak of 16 unbeaten games in a row had to come to an end at some stage, sure – but few would have picked a young and unsettled Reds side to deliver the sort of performance that they did on Saturday. That said, the Sharks were so dire at times on Saturday that even the Pretoria Boys High first team would have looked good against them. The intensity was not there – in fact, you’d be forgiven for wondering if certain players might not have been out on the piss the night before. Anyone else notice the way Rory Kockott’s hands were shaking as he prepared to kick? That’s not like the usually cock-sure Rocket…

The injury to Jean Deysel, in hindsight, was a pretty big blow as well. The pack as a whole hardly looked up for the game and the intensity at the breakdowns was well below par. Deysel, had he been there, would certainly have added a little fire and brimstone to an otherwise lacklustre forward effort. Then again, if a pack containing Bismarck du Plessis, John Smit and Johann Muller can’t get any go forward at the tackle point, how much difference could one guy actually have made? No – you can’t look at individuals here. It was a terrible team performance all-round.

I guess, in a way, that makes it easier. There is no possibility of the coach making sweeping personnel changes for the Force game, because, in fairness, he would need to drop the entire team based on Saturday’s disaster. Ruan Pienaar will need to replaced and that, I fear, is a disaster in itself. As much as I want to minimise the regular Steyn-bashing, the youngster is finally starting to look good at inside centre. It really is quite unfair to thrust the flyhalf role upon him yet again and based on (yet another) dog’s breakfast showing at flyhalf for the last 50 minutes on Saturday, I really struggle to see what we would learn from playing him there against the Force.

In hindsight – isn’t it a wonderful thing? – the balance of the tour party is wrong. What sense does it make having an extra three forwards in the squad that never see any game time (Downey, Snyman and Badenhorst) when the only back line replacement not in the 22 (Waylon Murray) is not even fit? Would it not, perhaps, have made more sense to have Len Olivier along from the start? It’s an opportunity wasted, because even if Olivier is already on his way over to Aus (which I hope he is, since I can’t raise him) there’s just no way he’ll arrive in time to be considered for a starting spot this weekend. Had he been on tour already, it would have been a no-brainer to include him.

The other major issue I have is that our first-choice 12 is our backup flyhalf, while it seems our first-choice 13 is our backup 12. I’m all for minimising injury disruptions as far as possible. We have a backline that is working now with Steyn at 12 and Jacobs at 13. If Steyn moves to flyhalf, we then need to move Adi as well and further disrupt the rhythm. Oh, if only we could just rather bring another flyhalf straight in and leave the rest of the lineup unchanged…

Either way, the big challenge for the Sharks this week will be the mental one of moving past the shock loss (and their worst team performance since August 2008) to get back to where they were against the Force. To be honest, I think we all sort of expected a loss somewhere on this tour and it’s a good monkey to get off the back. The team needs to make the decision now, though, as to where they want to go from here. Top spot is still on the cards, but it starts with a victory over the Force.

Go get em, Sharks.



39 Comments

  • I think I made my point on your situation at 10 on the other thread.

  • Comment 1, posted at 16.03.09 10:24:45 by Morné Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 1) : yip :smile:
    this is going to be a week of apprehension :roll:
    but in all fairness loosing a game – not the end of the world

  • Comment 2, posted at 16.03.09 10:33:20 by rekinek Reply
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  • @rekinek (Comment 2) :

    Exactly, you Sharkies should go easy on yourself and your team. Not the first time a team went down to the Reds in Brissie, the Bulls as defending champs lost there just last year…

  • Comment 3, posted at 16.03.09 10:39:59 by Morné Reply
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  • I have an update. It looks like Monty Dumond will be flown over as cover.

  • Comment 4, posted at 16.03.09 10:54:06 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 3) : i remembered that. And I guess Reds played decent game, so one shouldn’t take it away from them. but still … eeish
    at least I am working predominantly with lions supporters so they can’t pick on me :mrgreen:

  • Comment 5, posted at 16.03.09 11:11:55 by rekinek Reply
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  • Was there not a post pre-game that the Reds coach found a weakness in the Sharks defense? Looks like he was right :neutral:

  • Comment 6, posted at 16.03.09 11:18:13 by Rahul Reply

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  • @Rahul (Comment 6) : you mean the fact that none of them could be f****g bothered to tackle? :twisted: :mrgreen: :shock:

  • Comment 7, posted at 16.03.09 11:23:21 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 7) : something like that… esp the inside channel. 6 7 8 9 10 all had problems. Maybe a bit harsh on Kokett. but even he seemed to be playing catch up

  • Comment 8, posted at 16.03.09 11:31:34 by Rahul Reply

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  • If Kockott and Bismark to play the full 80mins ‘again’… Force to take it… and that’s the same with Adi and a few others…

    Did you guys watch the Force game… their loose combo with the super-powerful Stanford in the mix are balanced… Botes, Daniels, Kanko are not…

    Huge game with the race now having tightened right up…

  • Comment 9, posted at 16.03.09 12:17:43 by bryce_in_oz Reply

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  • Havent watch the Sharks loss on saturday but was surprise to see them losing. Could not believe my eyes. :shock:

    You get it right against the Farce. They are kak at home.

  • Comment 10, posted at 16.03.09 12:24:58 by PaarlBok Reply

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  • @PaarlBok (Comment 10) : not that Crusaders looks like a team to be measured against this year.
    still what was said about reds before sat’s game :roll:
    but we should get it right :lol:

  • Comment 11, posted at 16.03.09 12:40:30 by rekinek Reply
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  • Sport is a great leveller and it has a way of bringing you back down to earth with a bump. When you open your mouth at the wrong time, chances are you will see your backside!

    Who remembers Francois Pienaar, a number of years back, saying that Transvaal were better than the Boks…what happened next game? A beeg klap! There are plenty more examples. I could use the Rafa Benitez rant earlier in the season but as the Red Scouse supporters are still in ecstacy today…I’ll leave it! :lol:

    Anyway, this Reds team is extremely exciting and you can see the improvement year on year. They are excellently coached by Phil Mooney and when he took over last season, there was an immediate improvement. Look how skillful their backline is. How many handling errors did they make? And that was despite some intricate passing and a number of offloads in the tackle. Add to that the fact they were missing some key players and things are looking bright for the reds (I even noticed James Horwill and Morgan Turinui sitting on the bench in suits).

  • Comment 12, posted at 16.03.09 15:06:36 by Villie Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 4) : But you don’t think he will play? So what will 10, 12, 13 look like then in your opinion. This is a disaster. Its worse than NOT having a hooker. So if Steyn doesn’t play 10, who will? If Steyn does play 10, who plays 12/13?

  • Comment 13, posted at 16.03.09 15:08:36 by deanoelsch Reply

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  • I’m concerned about this whole John Smit at tighthead move. It’s being done for the national cause….but honestly JS is not going to be a dominant tighthead on the international stage. It would be better for both the Sharks and Boks to leave him at hooker. I know we’ve been through this whole debate before, so don’t want to start it up again…but there will be enough opportunities for both JS and Bismark to play and contribute.

  • Comment 14, posted at 16.03.09 15:09:50 by Villie Reply
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  • @deanoelsch (Comment 13) : Steyn WILL play 10. No doubt about it. Assuming Swannie is fit, will then be him and Adi at 12/13…which way around is anyone’s guess. Zuks played centre for the junior Sharks teams but has very little experience so probably be on the bench.

  • Comment 15, posted at 16.03.09 15:11:47 by Villie Reply
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  • @Villie (Comment 12) : it sounds so true and depressing.
    but we were told the entire week that no underestimation of reds. hey

  • Comment 16, posted at 16.03.09 15:13:47 by rekinek Reply
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  • @Villie (Comment 15) : he will keep having little experience if he keeps benchwarming.

  • Comment 17, posted at 16.03.09 15:15:00 by rekinek Reply
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  • @Villie (Comment 14) : I agree… Smit really didn’t dominate Daley the way I hoped he would.

  • Comment 18, posted at 16.03.09 15:18:11 by robdylan Reply
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  • @rekinek (Comment 16) : Do you know what the bugs me the most?

    We ALWAYS hear how weak and pathetic the Aussie teams front rows are and that includes their national team…and before games we always hear that our guys are going to drill them in the scrums etc. But WHEN have you ever seen it happen? It NEVER happens. NEVER. Not even the Boks drill them. We might get the upper hand in the scrums but you never see them absolutely taken apart.

    I think the last time I saw the Aussie national team getting drilled in the scrum was in the WC quarter final against the Poms. Sheridan destroyed the Aussie tighthead (think it was Al Baxter?). But SA teams never do it.

    Who remembers the Natal front row with Tommy Lawton at hooker. That front row actually WALKED with the Wee Pee scrum…they went backwards at a rate of knots….losing tighthead after tighthead. That’s what I call a drilling!

  • Comment 19, posted at 16.03.09 15:19:49 by Villie Reply
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  • @rekinek (Comment 17) : Yep I agree. Our options are limited…so maybe throw him in at the deep end and let’s see if he sinks or swims!

  • Comment 20, posted at 16.03.09 15:21:02 by Villie Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 18) : Nope..not at all. I don’t know the stats but I don’t think there were that many scrums in the whole game. Certainly in the first half. I think it must have been at least 15 minutes before the very first one. I wonder if that was a tactic on the Reds part? The Aussies are usually extremely clever when it comes to these things.

    Having said that Smit didn’t really dominate Daley, I wonder if Jannie Dup would have done had he started? I doubt it. While Jannie is a solid scrummager, he’s not destructive.

  • Comment 21, posted at 16.03.09 15:26:43 by Villie Reply
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  • @Villie (Comment 19) : the last time I saw scrum doing some back pedalling was (suprise suprise) the Lions scrum during this year’s Sharks – Lions game – though mind u only once.
    and we forever hear how strong lions’ scrum is etc. so u right if they could do it to lions why not to reds?
    agreed – aussies improved their scrums.

  • Comment 22, posted at 16.03.09 15:27:24 by rekinek Reply
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  • @Villie (Comment 21) : we missed a real trick when we lost BJ… now he could destroy a loosehead.

  • Comment 23, posted at 16.03.09 15:31:35 by robdylan Reply
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  • @rekinek (Comment 22) : I don’t know if the Aussies have actually improved their scrums, I just think they are clever and know how to play the refs.
    SA teams have physically bigger and stronger guys but technically are not the best.
    I think a lot of it comes from the culture in schools where the big guy just flattens the smaller guy . The big guy then thinks he is the bees knees but is not taught the correct technical aspects or tricks of the trade!

  • Comment 24, posted at 16.03.09 15:34:26 by Villie Reply
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  • @Villie (Comment 24) : or could it be that we simply underestimate them and will is not there

  • Comment 25, posted at 16.03.09 15:38:34 by rekinek Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 23) : Yep…BJ was the best tighthead in SA….no doubt about it.

  • Comment 26, posted at 16.03.09 15:41:15 by Villie Reply
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  • A bit from Supersport

    Rugby – Hugh Bladen

    I recently came across some shocking statistics while doing research for another article. In the last three editions of the Super 14 South African teams managed to win just 12 out of 67 matches in Australasia. That is less than 18% overall.
    Last year we managed to win only four matches out of 22, and three of those went to one team, the Stormers.

    I wanted to share that figure with you first up, because all the observations I want to make about where our teams are now will come back to that.

    For example, people ask me how I rate the Bulls’ chances in the tournament. Now I think that they have been right on the money so far this year but, frankly, their record in Australasia through the years has been abysmal. I can’t see them as title contenders until they’ve shown the ability to win away from home.

    On the other hand we have the Sharks who already have two good wins over there. At the very least they would have won half their games on tour, and seen in the light of the statistics I mentioned above, that is very good. If they manage to pick up another four points this coming weekend, they will be very hard to stop when they come home.

    Then we have the Stormers who’s win on Saturday would have been a great confidence booster. You get those days in rugby where everything just clicks, passes go to hand, space opens up and the players really enjoy themselves. The Cape team clicked, but I’ve been in this game too long to make any predictions based on that one performance. They have a bye this week and then they, too, will go on tour. Traditionally they have been a good touring side, and now they have a bit of confidence. Let’s see how it goes for them.

    Now to that other question I get asked so often: “What’s wrong with the Lions?”

    I haven’t had a chance to speak to my good friend Loffie Eloff after Saturday’s game, but it is clear to me that the Lions will have to re-assess the way they play. You simply can’t do every thing at a hundred miles per hour and expect to be successful. You must be able to change the pace of a match, slow it down, speed it up and slow it down again.

    On Saturday they scored two brilliant tries through Ludik and Mentz, but instead of settling down and consolidating the lead, they continued their frenzied approach, and before they could blink Burger and Louw had scored against them because of sloppy mistakes. The lead was gone, the momentum switched, and we all know the rest.

    Lastly I have to say that I feel for the Sharks. It’s always tough to time things like resting players or just gearing back a little. It is understandable that they would have seen the Reds as less of a threat going in to the match, but on Saturday the men from Queensland just wanted it more and fully deserved the victory.

    Ruan Pienaar’s injury may turn out to be a big problem for them , especially since Francois Steyn hasn’t done well at flyhalf. It will be interesting to see how John Plumtree and his management team approach this in the next few weeks.

  • Comment 27, posted at 16.03.09 15:51:02 by rekinek Reply
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  • Jaque Fourie aims to resume his midfield partnership with Jean de Villiers.

    Three unrelated injuries allowed Adrian Jacobs to win 11 Test caps in 2008 and take ownership of the Bok No 13 jersey, while a frustrated Fourie watched events unfold on television.

    ‘Adrian did really well for the Boks last year, which was great for him and the team, but I back myself to get back into the side,’ says Fourie, in the latest issue of SA Rugby magazine.

  • Comment 28, posted at 17.03.09 13:50:12 by Charlie Reply

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  • Reds scrumhalf Will Genia has been given a four-week suspension for a dangerous tackle on Sharks flanker Keegan Daniel.

  • Comment 29, posted at 17.03.09 14:51:10 by McLovin Reply

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  • @McLovin (Comment 29) : At least they managed to see the jersey number on the video :roll: :shock:

  • Comment 30, posted at 17.03.09 15:02:46 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 30) : They are considering appealing against the ban. :roll:

    Maybe they haven’t seen the footage yet. :evil:

  • Comment 31, posted at 17.03.09 15:13:54 by McLovin Reply

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  • @McLovin (Comment 31) : Sanzarr will probably reduce it to a suspended sentence….because Keegan isn’t actually paralized :evil:

  • Comment 32, posted at 17.03.09 15:17:25 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @McLovin (Comment 29) : good… that was a red card offence

  • Comment 33, posted at 17.03.09 15:18:03 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 32) : I would be very surprised if the sentence gets reduced. I reckon they’re just kicking up a fuss, they won’t even appeal imo.

  • Comment 34, posted at 17.03.09 15:20:02 by McLovin Reply

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  • @robdylan (Comment 33) : Agree…

  • Comment 35, posted at 17.03.09 15:20:36 by McLovin Reply

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  • @Pokkel (Comment 30) : it was reather visible. the commentators could see it :roll:

  • Comment 36, posted at 17.03.09 15:29:07 by rekinek Reply
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  • and hello for today :wink:

  • Comment 37, posted at 17.03.09 15:29:55 by rekinek Reply
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  • @rekinek (Comment 36) : Everybody saw it apart from the 3 blokes being paid to see it. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 38, posted at 17.03.09 15:50:02 by McLovin Reply

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  • @McLovin (Comment 38) : they should replace them with the cardboards :lol:

  • Comment 39, posted at 17.03.09 16:04:54 by rekinek Reply
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