The Cheetahs once again upended the Sharks, this time 25-20. It was a diabolical display from The Toothless Ones, a slap in the face of all loyal fans who pull on the black jersey every weekend.
I drove like a maniac back from work. I swerved and ducked down little side roads. All in the name of catching the game. But what was served up to me was trite that was so appalling, so inexcusably pathetic and downright shameful that I wished I had just stayed at the office and joined the ‘I’m-too-cool-for-rugby’ designers for a couple of beers
I lost count of the handling errors by the Sharks, by the end I simply cheered when a pass stuck or when a player actually managed to hold on to the ball in a tackle. I witnessed a talented team soundly beaten by an average team that based its gameplan simply around us screwing up, how embarrassing is that? The Cheetahs sensed early that 15 clowns had escaped from a nearby circus and were impersonating rugby players on the field. Unfazed, they stuck to their guns, waited for the inevitable brain-fart penalty and even popped over a sweetly taken drop goal to compound the misery.
I knew this was going to be a forgettable game when Riaan Viljoen ran 65 metres through the entire team and scored. I haven’t seen such pathetic defence since the ignominious class of 2000.
The deluded optimist in me, rationalized with my emotional side and so I cheered when the Sharks struck back early in the second stanza. Ryan Kankowski (who seems to be showing some signs of returning to the player he was two years ago) was on hand to collect a decent backline pass that actually floated through the air and didn’t go forward, The rangy number eight did some nifty footwork and stepped inside the defence to score.
Kankowski featured again in some nice line breaks as the Sharks began to realize he was the only ‘backline’ player capable of doing anything remotely useful with the ball. The effect seemed to spur on Adi Jacobs who also raised his game and looked slightly dangerous with ball in hand.
For the rest of the team, words fail to describe the level of incompetence. Ruan Pienaar can be forgiven for being rusty, but in truth he did nothing more than Monty Dumond would have. Alistair Hargreaves has neither the guile, aggression or skill to be a Super 14 player and was hauled off for new recruit Wilhelm Steenkamp much to my relief. In general, the scrums were awful with both front-rows up to all sorts of stupid nonsense that made for sporadic dull rugby.
Rory Kockett was as atrocious this week as he was sublime last week. I may be mistaken, but did he miss 4 shots at goal? Forgive my lack of specifics but I didn’t hang around long enough to watch the end-of-game stats. What really amazed me was his lack of BMT when it mattered most. The man with the most agonisingly lengthy kicking style in world rugby was forced to hurry a little bit to keep us in the game and shanked it right in front of the poles.
But I was perhaps most disappointed at the complete sham that is Odwa Ndungane. Odwa has never had pace, but that was excusable in the old days when his support play often found him in a favourable position. How Plumtree can persevere with a wing that cannot tackle, cannot catch and cannot outrun a prop, is beyond me. We have the hugely exciting Lwazi Mvovo collecting splinters on the sidelines, surely he can’t play any worse? Most teams get the ball to the wings because wings are dangerously fast, but for the Sharks, it’s like the ‘dead zone’, where all life as we know it breaks down.
So where to from here? It’s hard to say. My personal belief is that there are too many things wrong with this team right now from the egoheads like Kockett and Bismark, the walking yellow-cards like Daniel, to the utterly useless individuals like Hargreaves and Ndungane. Unless the Sharks coaching staff can pull some rabbits out of hats, I see a Cats-Sharks final for the Wooden Spoon.
I hope I’m proven wrong….
POST SCRIPT: It’s been pointed out, and I agree: the Cheetahs played well and knew how to play us well. They’re a good side, all credit to them.Tweet