While there is plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth (anyone remember Dennis the menace and gnasher, pronounced g-nasher) going on about the lily-livered performance of the Sharks, perhaps there are a few other points of consideration worth… considering.
First up, both teams were missing a number of players, but I guess in the Sharks case, it was top players and while I am all for Guy Cronje getting more and more game time, otherwise he’ll never develop his game, we are missing a Ruan Pienaar or dare I say it, Hernandez, in the pivotal flyhalf jersey. And if you are going to select him, don’t so utterly wrap him in cotton wool to the point where he is on the field but doing nothing much at all?
And if you are going to kick up and unders, if, after 72 tries you haven’t regained the ball more than once, why not alter your game plan?
OK, onto a dose of reality. Both Province tries came off turnover ball. Yes, credit to Province for getting the ball off the Sharks, but then you have to ask why they were unable to craft any tries. Like the Sharks I suppose…
And where we are bemoaning the fact that we are low on depth, how is it that WP managed to buy in three fairly quality players. The locks were a revelation – in Cape Town at the least, two guys willing to work bloody hard for the ball instead of waiting for scoring opportunities. Their presence on the field provided a 10-fold advantage to any other locks that they might have played in their absence.
Their loose forward trio worked well in tandem and including Jack who I counted with two steals on the ground (might have been more), they poached ball like a dog licks its testicles – because it can. We simply turned over way too much ball and I feel that our loosies were outplayed in this department as were our tight 5 who didn’t support the ball-player enough.
Willem de Waal is an old hand at the kicking game, so he was always going to win that duel outright – and he did. I though Kockott was one shining beacon aside from the slow clearance that led to Chris Jack’s early try, but again, why not feed Stef or Swannie to clear under less pressure?
So, all things told, I think we should look past a poor showing first game up in a match littered with penalties, and give praise to Province who probably wanted the win more. After all, they have failed to make the semis for the past two years and have a point to prove.Tweet