The Great Couch Shark

Sharks holding on for dear life


Written by Nick Gordon (The Great Couch Shark)

Posted in :Original Content on 20 Apr 2009 at 11:29

Tournament favourites, The Sharks, might need some luck to make the semi-finals, writes CapeShark.

The Coastal Team who began the season with a bang, are in such poor form presently, they’re now in danger of missing the play-offs, something considered inconceivable three weeks ago.

It was obvious after the drubbing by the Cheetahs, incidentally the worst team in the competition, that the Sharks had gone completely off the boil. Against the Crusaders a week later, they were just plain woeful. A handling error count of over 20 is never going to win you a game, whether you’re a band of professionals or the under-13F team. The Sharks had numerous opportunities to score yet failed to overturn a 7 point deficit for the majority of the game, often spilling the pill within metres of the line.

Coach Plumtree has pointed to player fatigue, and seems to be holding out for the bye as his only salvation. But how can one honestly blame player fatigue when the other Super teams have to cope with exactly the same challenges, and in some cases have stepped up a gear?

It’s my considered opinion that for the umpteenth season, the coastal franchise finds itself without a flyhalf of any decent quality to galvanise the team and give them go-forward. Ruan Pienaar showed glimpses of promise until his injury, but the failure to find adequate depth in this crucial position has reduced the Sharks to relying on a player who quite evidently has a not a clue about the basics of flyhalf play. Frans Steyn has shown no aptitude in the slightest for this position. Instead of creating opportunities for the players around him, he somehow naively believes that he alone will break the defences. Instead of attacking the advantage line directly and creating forward momentum, his sideways running reduces the players around him to a standstill, as they wait (mostly in vain) for an offload to run onto. How Plumtree can still persist with someone who couldn’t run straight if he was being chased down a tunnel by a train, is simply mystifying.
Add to that his poor defensive alignment and slippery hands, and you have a recipe for implosion on your hands. What Plumtree should do now to avoid any further nightmares is play Adrian Jacobs
at flyhalf because it seems like half the time on the field he plays there anyway. At least Jacobs is creative, and while it’s not a perfect solution, it could at least ignite the Sharks into being a little more proactive instead of relying on opposition mistakes to counter-attack from.

I’ve said it before, but I honestly think we should target Peter Grant, who does the basics well, and groom him for the flyhalf berth. The guy is wasting his time with the severely impotent Stormers.
He attacks the line well, is a fearless defender, passes well, heck it’ll be a revelation!
Grant is said to be considering his options, would it hurt the Sharks Union to at least put in an offer?

But back to Saturday’s game, I was mystified as to why Riaan Swanepoel, one of the few players who committed himself to catching a ball and running straight, was hauled off for Waylon Murray who hasn’t seen action for nearly five months! Like Steyn, Murray is also an aficionado of the sideways dancer technique, end result: even less forward momentum. Rory, the ‘Jack Russell’ Kockett seems to have perfected the art of isolating himself and relinquishing ball in the tackle, so while it all looks nifty, his line-breaks are actually placing the entire team under more pressure. Poor Odwa Ndungane! I feel for the guy, he runs into space so well, ready for that final pass, and he got shockers all night long. He’s one of South Africa’s hardest working wings and one of the few players to enjoy a consistently good season. One of the few plusses to take out of the game, was the magnificent Beast who looked strong and dangerous whenever he had the ball. But unless his team-mates can protect the ball at the breakdown something they have lost collective ability to do these days, it’s all a little predictable isn’t it.

Well, here’s hoping the Sharks actually pull a rabbit out of the hat, or their heads from their asses, whatever analogy works best, and start putting some points on paper. At one stage the tournament was theirs to lose, if they don’t start playing to their potential, they’ll go one worse and finish mid-table. Not a comforting thought.



55 Comments

  • Well, hopefully the bye will be a good rest for the players…but i just can’t help thinking there’s some obvious strategic flaws in the team…

  • Comment 1, posted at 20.04.09 11:30:53 by CapeShark Reply
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    The Great Couch SharkSuper Rugby player
     
  • @CapeShark (Comment 1) : Plumtree seems to ignore most of the points you made, actually had a smile on his post match interview and admit that he will use Steyn @ 10 until Pienaar’s decalered fit… :roll:

  • Comment 2, posted at 20.04.09 11:54:01 by Charlie Reply

    CharlieSuper Rugby player
     
  • :oops: decalered = declared :oops:

  • Comment 3, posted at 20.04.09 11:54:43 by Charlie Reply

    CharlieSuper Rugby player
     
  • So the madness of King Plum sets in :shock:

    When will people realize how poo Steyn is?

  • Comment 4, posted at 20.04.09 11:56:59 by CapeShark Reply
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    The Great Couch SharkSuper Rugby player
     
  • @CapeShark (Comment 4) : Steyn needs to be picked in one position. The Sharks are now bad with a few key injuries… that worries me! Its easy to replace a wing or centre, but not a flyhalf or fullback!

  • Comment 5, posted at 20.04.09 12:02:19 by Rahul Reply

    RahulCurrie Cup player
     
  • ‘I was mystified as to why Riaan Swanepoel, one of the few players who committed himself to catching a ball and running straight, was hauled off for Waylon Murray’

    I posted on another thread…. why is Waylon there at all if Ruaan will be fit for the next game?

  • Comment 6, posted at 20.04.09 12:05:12 by Rahul Reply

    RahulCurrie Cup player
     
  • @CapeShark (Comment 4) : Was the crowd hooing or booing after Steyn’s missed drop attempt :?: :roll:

  • Comment 7, posted at 20.04.09 12:09:37 by Charlie Reply

    CharlieSuper Rugby player
     
  • @Charlie (Comment 2) :

    And what is wrong with using Steyn at 10 until Pienaar is ready?

  • Comment 8, posted at 20.04.09 12:44:30 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
     
  • @Charlie (Comment 7) :

    it’s almost as if you are running a one man campaign to ensure That frans doesn’t get chosen before you in the Bok team.

  • Comment 9, posted at 20.04.09 12:46:09 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
     
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 8) :

    Where do you want me to start…

    He is not a natural flyhalf and it takes such a huge edge away from your backline.

    By playing him 10 you also lose a ball carrier come strike runner in midfield.

    Hindsight is lovely, but looking back now, I would have risked Len or Monty at 10 rather and keep the disruption in the backline to a minimum.

    Steyn could easily have switched with the 10 from 12 in defensive plays.

  • Comment 10, posted at 20.04.09 12:49:06 by Morné Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 10) : but he can’t even defend, that’s the scary thing. How many times do you seem him caught out of position, chasing backwards?

  • Comment 11, posted at 20.04.09 12:54:21 by CapeShark Reply
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    The Great Couch SharkSuper Rugby player
     
  • @Morné (Comment 10) :

    Okay let me rephrase.

    Who else do you want to play at 10 until Pienaar is ready? (without hidsight to suggest we should have used Monty or Len)

  • Comment 12, posted at 20.04.09 12:58:31 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
     
  • I didn’t hear anyone bitching about Steyn a few weeks ago, now we have lost to the Crusaders and Steyn must be replaced?

  • Comment 13, posted at 20.04.09 13:00:30 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
     
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 12) :

    There is none.

    But that is why we have hindsight.

    You have two 10′s in the wings, and with the experience around them they might not have done so badly.

    Ruan is back as far as I heard and will play after the bye.

    Again, the Sharks lost to the defending champs – hardly any shame in that.

  • Comment 14, posted at 20.04.09 13:01:39 by Morné Reply
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  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 13) :

    Not replaced, moved back to 12.

  • Comment 15, posted at 20.04.09 13:02:04 by Morné Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 10) :
    No – anybody is better than Dumond! :shock:

    Agree with the rest though. :wink:

    @KSA Shark © (Comment 13) :
    Oh really? Don’t read my comments much do you? :twisted:

  • Comment 16, posted at 20.04.09 13:02:37 by Big Fish Reply
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  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 12) : Well, er, part of my article above was about recommending that Adi Jacobs take over. The reason being that a) a blind walrus is currently a better flyhalf option than Steyn, and b) Adi shows a lot of creativity and could potentially ignite the stale backline.

  • Comment 17, posted at 20.04.09 13:02:48 by CapeShark Reply
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    The Great Couch SharkSuper Rugby player
     
  • @Big Fish (Comment 16) :

    Yeah cant argue with that…

    Len it is then…

  • Comment 18, posted at 20.04.09 13:08:39 by Morné Reply
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  • You have to wonder at the sharks rugby website when it writes things like: ‘A drop-goal proved the difference in the end’. Really? What about our 10 knock-ons near their try-line?

  • Comment 19, posted at 20.04.09 13:16:24 by CapeShark Reply
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    The Great Couch SharkSuper Rugby player
     
  • In hindsight, it would’ve been nice to see one of the other 10′s starting against the Cheetahs…

  • Comment 20, posted at 20.04.09 13:16:59 by blackshark - YNWA Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player
     
  • @CapeShark (Comment 19) :
    Agree…

  • Comment 21, posted at 20.04.09 13:18:02 by blackshark - YNWA Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player
     
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 8) : @KSA Shark © (Comment 13) : Jeez KSA that is quite a turn around. After Frans played the first game at 10 you wanted to send him to France….now you defending him at 10 :?: :shock:

  • Comment 22, posted at 20.04.09 13:30:48 by Pokkel Reply
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  • if frans is our best option at flyhalf then i dont want to see our worst, one other thing to take into consideration is that certain players combine better than others and even though neither rory or frans are bad players maybe they just dont combine that well, but i still believe frans is not a flyhalf, never will be.

  • Comment 23, posted at 20.04.09 13:45:45 by JarsonX Reply
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  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 8) : @KSA Shark © (Comment 9) : :neutral: :roll:

  • Comment 24, posted at 20.04.09 13:58:24 by Charlie Reply

    CharlieSuper Rugby player
     
  • @JarsonX (Comment 23) : I don’t think Rory Kockett is aware that he has to combine with anyone else on the field :smile: Reminds me a bit of the ol’ Chad Alcock with his glory boy runs.

  • Comment 25, posted at 20.04.09 14:16:43 by CapeShark Reply
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  • @CapeShark (Comment 25) :
    Never a truer word spoken!

  • Comment 26, posted at 20.04.09 14:22:54 by Big Fish Reply
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  • @CapeShark (Comment 25) : That could be the reason for all the handling errors? No one is used to receiving a pass :mrgreen:

  • Comment 27, posted at 20.04.09 14:28:57 by Rahul Reply

    RahulCurrie Cup player
     
  • any word on keegan and jannie yet?

  • Comment 28, posted at 20.04.09 14:29:25 by JarsonX Reply
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  • “Match strategy

    The Crusaders might also have exposed the soft underbelly of the Sharks, so to speak. It was clear that Crusaders coaches Todd Blackadder and Mark Hammett planned their match strategy meticulously around restricting the space of the Sharks’ form players.

    Rory Kockott, Ryan Kankowski and Francois Steyn were swamped by hordes of tacklers every time they had possession – it was only towards the end of the game that Kockott managed to evade a few tackles. The shrewd coaches also got all three their loose forwards playing towards the ball at all times, slowing the Sharks’ ball on the ground and on more than one occasion winning the contest at the breakdown purely because they had more numbers. This strategy effectively derailed the Sharks’ famous pick and drives and phase play for the bigger part of the match.”

    Not rocket science…

  • Comment 29, posted at 20.04.09 15:32:09 by bryce_in_oz Reply

    bryce_in_ozCurrie Cup player
     
  • I think their hearing has been set for Thursday.

  • Comment 30, posted at 20.04.09 15:33:02 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • @CapeShark (Comment 25) :

    Didn’t Chad play for EP??

    The ‘Mighty’ Elephants were quite decent back then.

  • Comment 31, posted at 20.04.09 15:37:56 by wpw Reply
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  • @Salmonoid (Comment 30) : …so then they are already guilty… :roll:

  • Comment 32, posted at 20.04.09 15:58:21 by Charlie Reply

    CharlieSuper Rugby player
     
  • “Coach Plumtree has pointed to player fatigue, and seems to be holding out for the bye as his only salvation. But how can one honestly blame player fatigue when the other Super teams have to cope with exactly the same challenges, and in some cases have stepped up a gear?”

    He can because 12 of the other 14 teams have already had a bye. Anyway, didn’t Blackadder (no friend of mine incidentally) say his team couldn’t have picked a lineup if it weren’t for their bye?

    And what about the Waratahs, lost 2 games at home in the past 2 weeks. They too have their bye this coming weekend.

  • Comment 33, posted at 20.04.09 16:15:23 by Baldrick Reply

    BaldrickCurrie Cup player
     
  • @CapeShark (Comment 19) : A try apiece, a conversion apiece, a penalty apiece, a drop-goal to the Crusaders. Seems the report was pretty correct there.

  • Comment 34, posted at 20.04.09 16:24:06 by Baldrick Reply

    BaldrickCurrie Cup player
     
  • @Charlie (Comment 32) :
    Hope not.

  • Comment 35, posted at 20.04.09 16:42:51 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • @Baldrick (Comment 33) :
    Maybe someone can do an indepth on the importance of having a bye.
    I think it is going to mean soooo much to the Sharks just to give their bodies a rest after all the defensive work and the 4 weeks of travelling thay have got through.

  • Comment 36, posted at 20.04.09 16:49:22 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 8) : he is a bad flyhalf – 3 weeks ago I would say average but I’ve changed my mind :evil:

  • Comment 37, posted at 20.04.09 16:50:46 by rekinek Reply
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  • @CapeShark (Comment 19) : they need to keep us supporters motivated :mrgreen: and wanting to buy these R 900 gear.

    one person I know went to mr price recently and bought me sharks hoody out of the blue – they were so surprised it was so cheap, it was after cheetahs game so maybe sale is starting :mrgreen:

  • Comment 38, posted at 20.04.09 16:55:24 by rekinek Reply
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  • my few cents worth …
    During the time Fransie was at flyhalf I think he only had one half of very good rugby. I hope he also cannot wait to be back in No 12 jersey.

    I am not fan of Kockott’s runs but this last few minutes he looked at least like trying to do sth.

    I was disappointed with Odwa and JP (thought the latter had his first appearance after injury) but I take the point about passes. Some of the sharks passing was woeful.

  • Comment 39, posted at 20.04.09 17:01:45 by rekinek Reply
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  • how can you give frans grief when the service he is getting is shocking. i am not saying frans is my first choice, but he and rory definitely aren’t clicking. as negative as i am at times, i do look at the whole picture. like stefans attacking ability. :lol: :lol:

  • Comment 40, posted at 20.04.09 18:22:05 by try time Reply

    Super Rugby player
     
  • why wasn’t odwa replaced with waylon. plum is making some silly mistakes. waylon is just getting back from injury, so why rush him into a key position where match fitness is key. odd and odder.

  • Comment 41, posted at 20.04.09 18:26:10 by try time Reply

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  • @rekinek (Comment 39) : they can’t even pass the buck. they were all dreadful.

  • Comment 42, posted at 20.04.09 18:27:45 by try time Reply

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  • lets look at it carefully though. the sharks can still get a home final. but it will require 4 big games. games where defence will have to take the bench to get the bp’s. my worry is that we will be in the postion we were last year where we will put everything into getting the semi that we have nothing left in the tank to win the semi.

  • Comment 43, posted at 20.04.09 18:31:19 by try time Reply

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  • KSA i laughed at the sharks because it would be stupid to take a team seriously that improves on its weaknesses each rather than improve itself. this bye was a week late, but the attacking sharks of old is 10 weeks late. 3 bp in 10 games is shocking, especially considering we have lost three games. losses are where other teams make sure they at least take a point away. i am brutal sometimes about the sharks because i cannot believe a team can make the same errors every year, no matter who the coach is. i don’t see the point of looking at the half full glass when the half empty part could lose us a home semi and final. no one remembers the losers. everyone remembers the saders.

  • Comment 44, posted at 20.04.09 18:46:23 by try time Reply

    Super Rugby player
     
  • i will make one apology though, and that is to dick. maybe plum isn’t the better coach i thought he would be.

  • Comment 45, posted at 20.04.09 18:49:59 by try time Reply

    Super Rugby player
     
  • as for the non penalty try, it was 6 minutes into the game it would not have changed the way the game went. the more telling reasons for the sharks loss is goiing for the penalty when you are 6 points behind. it puts the teamin a negative frame of mind as they believe they cannot score tries so it is better to take penalties. i think had johan gone for a lineout, the team would have had a beter chance. the other telling factor was impatience by the “experienced players” odwa knocking the ball on instead of kicking and falling on it. stefan not catching a ball he would normally catch on defence. never mind the many other wasted opportunities. i don’t want to hear the fatigue excuse, because had the team attacked more this season rather than defending the players would have had a lot more energy now. it is well known that defence drains a player more than attacking.

    on the positive side the sharks have two weeks to get over their injuries. and even better is that most the sharks challengers have to do the sa leg. only the blues have a good run in. so all is not lost, but the sharks need to wake up and ask themselves if they really want it or if they want to be like the sharks before, pretenders to the throne.

  • Comment 46, posted at 20.04.09 19:33:01 by try time Reply

    Super Rugby player
     
  • @try time (Comment 45) : I’ll accept that apology on his behalf as I believe you and I have come to blows over DM in the past. :wink: In fact, you can apologise about Campo now I think about it too. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 47, posted at 20.04.09 19:41:19 by klempie Reply

    klempieTeam captain
     
  • Yoh yoh yoh! Wazzzzzuuuupppp? :grin:

  • Comment 48, posted at 20.04.09 20:32:09 by wpw Reply
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  • @klempie (Comment 47) : campo could teach odwa and stefan catch a ball. :lol:

  • Comment 49, posted at 20.04.09 20:44:05 by try time Reply

    Super Rugby player
     
  • @wpw (Comment 48) : i have found yet another problem at the stormers. a ball carrier. that jumps a meter into the air before running with the ball. it is ridiculous. schalk jumps into the air before running. so a defender 10 meters away has time to get to him before he even starts running. i laughed everytime i saw him get mowed down as he landed.

  • Comment 50, posted at 20.04.09 20:50:46 by try time Reply

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  • Schalk Brits?? He is useless…

  • Comment 51, posted at 20.04.09 21:44:45 by wpw Reply
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  • @try time (Comment 49) : I can’t tell if that’s an apology or not. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 52, posted at 20.04.09 21:49:39 by klempie Reply

    klempieTeam captain
     
  • @try time (Comment 41) :

    Riaan went off injured… hence the shoddy reshuffling… Murray was there for wing cover…

  • Comment 53, posted at 21.04.09 04:07:31 by bryce_in_oz Reply

    bryce_in_ozCurrie Cup player
     
  • @try time (Comment 43) :

    3 big games is all that is left…

  • Comment 54, posted at 21.04.09 04:08:13 by bryce_in_oz Reply

    bryce_in_ozCurrie Cup player
     
  • @try time (Comment 45) :

    Too many here did not watch Wellington play Plumtree’s style (9man pack rugby with the 9 the extra utility-link-loose forward) in the NPC… as I’ve said all along… he has hardly built on ‘Dick Muir style counter-attacking rugby’… nor was he prepared for 22man 85min rugby… he’ll learn… but to call him the Messiah was way too premature… he’s a great forwards coach…

  • Comment 55, posted at 21.04.09 04:13:01 by bryce_in_oz Reply

    bryce_in_ozCurrie Cup player
     

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