If I were the coach I would have done a lot of things different up to this point, I think we all would have, but lets say I didn’t do anything differently from Plumtree, what would the type of things have been that I would have addressed and changed during this week.
The first thing I have to address, since one of our more regular bloggers brought this to our attention, would have been our kicking game. Kicking is a very important part of the game and in fact when a team has a good kicker or a guy like Daniel Carter or Merthens, Wilkinson, even Naas and More Steyn of the Bulls, then kicking can put you on the front foot and win games. Daniel Carter prooved this again last weekend, when he used kicks to put his wings into space and his forwards deep into opposition territory. Morne Steyn, say what you want about the guy, can take control of the match, not only with his accuracy at goal, but also his accuracy to the corners of the field. The opposition has to play in their own half the whole game and ends up buckling under the pressure. Recently, with the confidence Steyn has gained, not only has he pushed them into their own half, but he has also started to use his boot as an attacking tool when, for example against the Waratahs taking the ball from 10m out he chipped the ball over the heads of the very flat and charging defensive line to put his center over the line untouched. So I geuss the question is not; “To kick or not to kick”, but rather; “How to kick or not to kick”…and the answer?
Not really like the Sharks have been doing it, but the main culprit, is not Stefan Terbalnche, but rather every other player who tries to kick. Let’s bring up the stats. Stefan kicked 15 times in the game, that sounds a lot, but 50% of those kicks came out of his 22, therefor he should probably have kicked those kicks, he just needed to kick more of those kicks out, but failed to do so 4 out of the 8 times. Stefan used his boot on attack 5 times, 3 of those kicks gave an advantage to the Sharks and put pressure on the Waratahs. Off the 3 kicks left only 1 was an up and under, and a horrible one at that, and the other two was under pressure and into touch. So really if you do some math you will notice that only 3 of the kicks that Stefan made should not have been kicked in the first place and was horribly executed. So TT, you are 20% right concerning Stefan. In the last 2o minutes the game turned around and this is attributed to Stefan stepping up and running the ball back. It’s not entirely wrong, but Stefan still kicked 5 of his kicks in that 20 minutes, all of them good and putting the Sharks in a good position.
Now turning to the rest of the team, 23 kicks made and the only 2 good ones was kicked by Andy Goode and that gives him a 20% success rate and the team 13%, a pretty dismal performance . The rest of the participants in these kicks were Odwa, Adi, Ruan, JP and Riaan. All of their kicks was senseless and a blatant turn over of the ball. They just kicked for kicking, when any other option, passing running or even just waiting for the tackle and maybe setting up another phase could have been a better option. If their execution was a little better, some of these kicks might have turned out decent, if you’re not going to make your kick a good one, keep it in hand and at least give your team a chance to do something with the ball. That’s session one.
The next very important issue is cleaning out the rucks, the refs has not been very kind to us in this area, but the Sharks has not made it any easier on themselves. It’s not just individual performances that are hurting us here. It’s the whole approach the Sharks has to the ruck that will never aid them in cleaning out and protecting their ball sufficiently. With the stricter application of the laws going against the defending team, it has been made a lot simpler to get quick and clean ball to the backs, yet the Sharks is still one of the only teams failing to do this. Why? Because of our “lets see who gets there first approach to the ruck”. Yes, the guy closest to the ruck should be the one to clean out, but not just because he happened to be there, but rather because he put himself in a good position to be there first based on the attack. Not only that, but when working close to the ruck, against the bulk of the front row, you can’t have one guy going in with the other one lagging behind. At least two guys needs to clean out in tandem, because that first drive over the ruck usually sets up the outcome of the ruck and gives you the ascendancy you need to keep the pressure of the ball. All of this needs to happen at a quick pace, leaving the defense scrambled and on the back foot. If you have Kockett on the field standing with his hand ons his forward’s back setting up the next move and passing every 2 minutes, you might as well just kick an up and under and see what happens. At least then you have a chance of gaining forward momentum. This was again proved when in the 70th min Ruan was replaced and one Kockett could just not get the ball out of the ruck, about 4 minutes later one of our players was tackled by three defenders, driving him onto his back and turning over the possession, wasted time spent in the opposition half.
So if I were the coach, I would have had to tell Kockett either to go home and find a new team or I would have put him through a hellish week of drills to get him to those rucks faster and I would have told him that if he wants to be in my team and continue playing for the Sharks he has to pass, don’t think, don’t look, don’t shout and scream at the ref, just pass and even though I know Rory can get through a couple of breaks when he does think and look and scream, I would have told him not to even run once, until I think he understands the concept and importance of quick ball.
If I were the coach Jannie would not have been part of this game, this would have served as an example of what would happen to any player who showed ill-discipline, not just yellow cards, but any type of cynical play that puts pressure on their team. Andy Goode would not have been dealt this punishment, because I believe that his yellow card was unjustified and I would never discipline my players based on what a ref thinks. My players should not feel like they can’t play with everything in them and maybe get penalized by the ref. It’s when they consciously decide to use illegal tactics that I will suspend them from my team.
And if I were the coach during this week the last thing I on my agenda would have been to tell my captain to have more confidence in himself and his team. The law application this year allows attacking teams to keep possession for more phases and the Sharks should use this as an opportunity to kick more of those penalties to touch. I believe if we get into the opposition 22 and play the ball out of the rucks at a good pace we will score most of the time or the ref will just be forced to give penalties in favor of the Sharks which will eventually result in a yellow. Attacking play will also be helpful when it comes to the ref, since they are so focused on the defending team now that they don’t have room left in their brains to really notice anything the attacking team is doing. The Sharks are good enough, baring some basic things they’ve been doing wrong, to get the tries and keep the pressure on, in stead of taking the 3 that’s only converted 60% of the time, and then having to play in your own half again, putting the pressure back on yourself.
If I were the coach for this weekend, I would have made a few changes to my team. In the backs either Odwa or JP would have been relegated to the bench in favor of Mvovo, not because of their form specifically, since I believe that has a lot to do with the slow ball and the resulting organized defenders, but simply because I believe he deserves a run and will add some valuable pace and youthful excitement to our stagnant back three. This swap would not necessarily have been permenant, but I think would have been good for Odwa and Jp, reminding them that they, like every other player on the team are not indispensable.
With the forwards my one big change would have been to bring Deysel in at 6, to bulk up the loose forwards a little and also because both Keegan and Botes has not been delivering the performances we’ve come to expect from them. They have not done anything wrong, but Deysel has proven that he can deliver go forward ball for the Sharks and the importance of getting ball on the front foot can’t be denied.
As I said Jannie would have been on suspension for one game, thus my front row would have been John, Bismark and Beast with Carstens on the bench. Keegan would have been dropped from my bench completely since I don’t see the advantage of having two loose forwards on my bench. Hargreaves would have been called to the bench in place of Keegan with the rest of the bench staying the same as last week.
15. Stefan Terblanche, 14. JP. Pieterson, 13. Adriaan Jacobs, 12. Riaan Swannepoel, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Andy Goode, 9. Ruan Pienaar, 8. Ryan Kankovski, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Jean Deysel, 5. Johan Muller, 4. Steven Sykes, 3. John Smit, 2. Bismark Du Plessis, 1. Beast Mtwarira
Reserves: 16. Deon Carstens, 17. Craig Burden, 18. Alister Hargreaves, 19. Jacques Botes, 20. Rory Kockett, 21. Patrick Lambie, 22. Waylon Murray
What do you think? Should we play a round of: “If you were the coach…”Tweet