Top of the log – top of the world!

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Super 14 on 30 Mar 2009 at 15:31
Tagged with : , ,

Well, it certainly did turn out to be a bloody great weekend for Sharks fans, even if every other South African team conspired to lose. The Bulls were outplayed from start to finish in a game they would have been targeting as a must-win on tour (sound familiar?), while both the Lions and the Stormers lost games that were theirs for the taking all the way through.

This season’s race is still wide open as we move past the halfway mark, with only a few log points (8, to be precise separating the Sharks at the top, and the eighth-placed Blues. After a really sluggish start, two strong challengers from New Zealand are emerging in the Hurricanes and the Chiefs, with the latter in particular scoring more tries than I’ve had hot dinners. The Waratahs are pretty much Australia’s lone hope at this stage, with the Brumbies having lost their way badly in South Africa. For the South Africans, a lot will depend on whether the Bulls manage to bounce back after their unfortunate stumble in Palmerston North.

The Crusaders are nowhere near dead and buried yet, of course and are more-or-less even with the other two New Zealand franchises at this stage, the Highlanders and the Blues. The latter just don’t really look like going anywhere under Pat Lam this season but the perennially unlucky Highlanders are starting to build up a decent bit of momentum, having won their last three games. Don’t be terribly surprised to see a late challenge by the men from South Island, particularly given that they have a (relatively) easy tour to South Africa in their future.

Of course, it’s risky to make predictions about where teams will finish without them having toured yet and from that perspective, you’d have to be a fool to bet against the Sharks finishing in at least the top four, but hopefully the top two. The Bulls will still need to find a way to win at least one, but hopefully two more games on tour in order to be up there at the end, particularly given that their remaining away fixture in the republic will be in Durban – the final match of the round. Other early season front-runners, the Chiefs and the Waratahs, also still have to come to South Africa. The former will need to down the Bulls, Stormers and Cheetahs, while the men from Sydney have the Sharks, Lions and Cheetahs to contend with. Given that the Canes have already won one of their games on tour, you’d have to back them to finish higher than their Waikato rivals – their clash in Hamilton in round 13 could prove telling.

As always, so much will depend on the form of the weaker South African teams at home. Given that we probably can’t bank on the Cheetahs to do anything other than concede bonus-point victories to anybody bored enough to visit Bloemfontein, it’s the Lions and Stormers who will need to do the favours as far as the Sharks and Bulls are concerned. The Lions seem determined to play ridiculous rugby this season and, I fear, will return from their tour a broken team. As for the Stormers, well – the only consistent thing about them is that you never know what they’re going to dish up on any given Saturday. Will they record a clean sweep of home wins against the Chiefs and Western Force? Somehow I doubt it, but let’s hope they win the one that counts.

Right now, if I were a betting man, my semi-final predictions would be as follows:

1) Sharks
2) Hurricanes
3) Bulls
4) Chiefs


  • I’m sooo glad we already played the Chiefs

  • Comment 1, posted at 30.03.09 15:53:19 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
    Assistant coach
  • *cough* Shark’s arrogance!! *cough* *cough* :mrgreen:

  • Comment 2, posted at 30.03.09 15:56:41 by wpw Reply
    wpwAssistant coach
  • I wouldn’t be surprised if the Highlander’s sneak into the semi’s

  • Comment 3, posted at 30.03.09 15:56:44 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
    Assistant coach
  • @Pokkel (Comment 3) : or the stormers :roll:

  • Comment 4, posted at 30.03.09 16:00:24 by molly Reply
    Competition WinnerCompetition Winner Author
    mollySuper Rugby player
  • @molly (Comment 4) : Eish um I don’t um maybe…I’ll be extremely surprised and overjoyed for you Stormers folk,really I will.

    Where is my ‘smileys’???

  • Comment 5, posted at 30.03.09 16:02:29 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
    Assistant coach
  • @molly (Comment 4) : :shock: :shock:

  • Comment 6, posted at 30.03.09 16:03:01 by wpw Reply
    wpwAssistant coach
  • @Pokkel (Comment 3) : @molly (Comment 4) : I’d be moerse surprised if either made the semi’s.

    But very happy if the Stormers made it. :wink: :mrgreen:

  • Comment 7, posted at 30.03.09 16:04:02 by McLovin Reply

    McLovinAssistant coach
  • Sorry, I’m trying REALLY REALLY hard to be optimistic.

  • Comment 8, posted at 30.03.09 16:05:59 by molly Reply
    Competition WinnerCompetition Winner Author
    mollySuper Rugby player
  • Have just watched the highlights of the Sharks game again and we benefited from a couple of poor decisions. JP’s try was definitely a forward pass and then the last try, we were very lucky not to be blown for crossing when Adi went on a bit of a mazy run. I’m not complaining but just hope we haven’t used up all of our luck in one game.

    Bismark was also very lucky to only get a yellow card. In todays climate, it could easily have been a red.

    Anyway, let’s hope JP’s injury isn’t too serious. Also, what’s news on Wolla and Ruan? How much longer?

  • Comment 9, posted at 30.03.09 21:04:28 by Villie Reply
    Competition Winner
    VillieCurrie Cup player
  • I actually thought that Bismark is just too strong, instead of just tackling the guy he just picked him up and basically chucked him down, not on his head or anything, would have been rediculous to get a RED! :shock: I think a lot of forward passes are being missed in all the games, however the linesman was right there and he didn’t say anything. Always play to the whistle like all my coaches used to tell us.

  • Comment 10, posted at 30.03.09 21:42:31 by Dynamite Reply

    DynamiteVodacom Cup player
  • One for all the Oom Stef fans out there.

    Congratulations to Stefan Terblanche for breaking his own Sharks try-scoring record in the Super 14, which now stands at 33.

  • Comment 11, posted at 31.03.09 09:53:17 by McLovin Reply

    McLovinAssistant coach
  • @McLovin (Comment 11) : :?:

    breaking his own record?

    Is that over a career?

    So he has then increased it?

  • Comment 12, posted at 31.03.09 10:00:01 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 12) : Yes. Yes. And Yes. :mrgreen:

    So basically everytime he scores a try it’s a new record. Until someone else catches up.

  • Comment 13, posted at 31.03.09 10:05:15 by McLovin Reply

    McLovinAssistant coach
  • Two class players, one position available

    by Super Wrap | 30 March 2009 (22:25)

    No-one ever said a selector’s job has to be easy, and the national panel has a few things to think about before the Springbok team is assembled for the first test against the British and Irish Lions.

    Click here for the latest rugby video highlights

    Fortunately it is one of those problems that is of a pleasant nature — though we know it is going to lead to heated debate. Adrian Jacobs was outstanding for the Sharks, and was never far from the ball carrier. He was a constant thorn to the Brumbies defence in his team’s big win, and although he never scored any tries of his own, he featured in the creation of a good percentage of his team’s five tries.
    But any thought that Jacobs’s name could be written down on the Springbok team sheet in indelible ink ought to have been erased over the next two hours. Jacobs is a fine player, but Jaque Fourie is as good, if not even better, and although he plays in a struggling team, he sent out a clear message against the Hurricanes at Coca-Cola Park that he wants his Bok No 13 jersey back.

    There is talk of Fourie being shifted to fullback so he can be accommodated in the starting team to play the Lions, but if you look at the form team selected by Super Wrap over the past couple of weeks, he states an excellent case to be included at outside centre, where many critics rated him the best in the world in 2007.

    So excellent was Jacobs on that same day that we at Super Wrap did hastily convene an impromptu discussion over the telephone to see if we could include the Sharks outside centre as the Bok Barometer team’s inside centre. But it was felt that as Wynand Olivier was one of the few Bulls to actually look sufficiently awake this week, he should get the spot.

    Hurricanes centre Conrad Smith, man of the match at Coca-Cola Park, summed it up when he said in the post-match interviews that “perhaps he (Fourie) should be up here instead”. He probably would have been had the Lions won. It was not just his two tries that earned him praise, but the way he broke the Hurricanes line almost at will in the first half.

    In fact, had it not been for the rather odd decision to replace Fourie’s centre partner Doppies la Grange in the last quarter, the turn-around that Fourie inspired after his team had fallen behind early on in the game would probably have led to a Lions victory.

    Andre Pretorius, a player who is a world beater one day and average the next, had one of those games where it was easy to imagine him back in the Springbok No 10 jersey. But two of the three selectors on this week’s Super Wrap went with Morne Steyn, so Steyn it is.

    Not that Morne is just any Steyn, for we need to differentiate him at this stage from his name-sake from the Sharks. Frans is one of the most gifted backline players in this country, if not the world, but it is hard at this stage of his career to figure out why it is that he seems so hell-bent on being a flyhalf.

    Apart from his debut Currie Cup game for the Sharks in 2006, when he single-handedly beat Western Province in the wet in Durban, Steyn hasn’t impressed in the position. Joel Stransky, commentating on the Sharks/Brumbies game, seemed to read our thoughts when he said “I can’t help thinking that this (the distance he gets with his kicks) is why maybe he should play fullback.”

    Remember, our barometer teams are based only on the form shown this week, and do not take form in previous matches into account.


    Louis Ludik, Odwa Ndungane, Jaque Fourie, Wynand Olivier, JP Pietersen, Morne Steyn, Jano Vermaak, Ryan Kankowski, Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger, Johann Muller, Danie Rossouw, Lawrence Sephaka, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira.

    SUPER 14 XV:

    Israel Dagg, Anthony Tuitavake, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Sitivini Sivivatu, Stephen Donald, Jimmy Cowan, Sione Lauaki, Adam Thomson, Daniel Braid, Jason Eaton, Brad Thorn, Ben May, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Jamie McKintosh.

    Okay, now that you have seen our Super 14 XV, you would have figured out that we agree with those who feel the Kiwis are starting to finally get it together. New Zealanders dominate the team, and make up the entire backline. Even one of the only two players from an Australian team that make our combination is in fact a New Zealander — Daniel Braid.

    MATCH OF THE WEEK: Blues vs Waratahs


    Anthony Tuitavake’s try for the Blues against the Waratahs was the product of an excellent build-up and some great running from the winger. Todd Clever’s try against the Hurricanes, in which both Fourie and Ludik featured prominently came a close second.


    Seeing we had a massive go at the referees last time, maybe in the interest of fairness we should point out that the match official played absolutely no role in the comedy of errors that was the game between the Crusaders and Stormers in Christchurch. The two teams were to blame this time.


    “I don’t think I will make any form based changes (for the next match). If I had to drop players because they are not in form I would have to drop nearly the whole team.” Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus says it how it is in an interview with a newspaperman.


    “For a moment there I almost thought that I heard the ball say ‘ouch!’” Andy Capostagno, possibly after watching the advert for the Pro-20 cricket too many times, comments on the force with which Frans Steyn launched one of his kicks at ABSA Stadium.


    “We ended up having to play too much rugby in our own half”. That was Jean de Villiers after the Stormers/Crusaders game, but he wasn’t completely accurate, for it is hard to remember when the Stormers played any rugby anywhere on the field.


    “It was just one of those freak things. I was just looking at the monitor and didn’t see it and it hit me.” Former All Black turned commentator after having a ball kicked into his face towards the end of the Christchurch game.


    Super Wrap would like to note that our thoughts are with Brumbies player Shawn Mackay and his family following the motor accident in Durban in the early hours of Sunday morning that necessitated him being put into a medically-induced coma. We are holding thumbs he makes a speedy and full recovery.


    Jean de Villiers and Kevan Mealamu were two captains who celebrated their milestone 50th appearances for their teams with defeats at the weekend. So too did foot-soldiers Jerome Kaino (Blues) and Morne Steyn (Bulls).


    Stefan Terblanche for breaking his own Sharks try-scoring record in the Super 14, which now stands at 33.


    The 18 points scored between the Crusaders and Stormers was the eighth lowest total number points scored in a single match in Super 14 history. The Crusaders figure in the lowest, which was the 6-0 defeat they copped against Highlanders a couple of weeks ago.

  • Comment 14, posted at 31.03.09 10:07:36 by Charlie Reply

    CharlieSuper Rugby player
  • Fourie missed a tackle on Saturday!!! He failed to stop Conrad Smith which lead to a try. :???:

  • Comment 15, posted at 31.03.09 10:10:46 by wpw Reply
    wpwAssistant coach
  • So excellent was Jacobs on that same day that we at Super Wrap did hastily convene an impromptu discussion over the telephone to see if we could include the Sharks outside centre as the Bok Barometer team’s inside centre. But it was felt that as Wynand Olivier was one of the few Bulls to actually look sufficiently awake this week, he should get the spot.

    WTF? :shock:

    Is there a Bulls quota for the Bok barometer squad?

  • Comment 16, posted at 31.03.09 10:15:33 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
  • @wpw (Comment 15) : He actually missed the tackle on Nonu for a try that put the Hurricanes in the lead… :wink:

  • Comment 17, posted at 31.03.09 10:36:14 by Charlie Reply

    CharlieSuper Rugby player
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 16) : Oubaas I actually compared the Super 14 stats on between Jacobs & Fourie, seems like Adi’s a cut above… :twisted:

  • Comment 18, posted at 31.03.09 10:38:36 by Charlie Reply

    CharlieSuper Rugby player
  • @Charlie (Comment 18) :

    :mrgreen: Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees! But i was talking about Olivier not Fourie. :lol: :wink:

  • Comment 19, posted at 31.03.09 10:44:38 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 19) : I know but Olivier plays 12 :wink: But why would they want to make space for Jacobs @ 12 :?:

  • Comment 20, posted at 31.03.09 10:46:59 by Charlie Reply

    CharlieSuper Rugby player
  • @Charlie (Comment 20) :

    becasue he can play 12 and the current 12 has a worse overall game than my 10 year old daughter.

  • Comment 21, posted at 31.03.09 10:49:49 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 21) : :twisted:

  • Comment 22, posted at 31.03.09 10:51:47 by Charlie Reply

    CharlieSuper Rugby player

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