Let’s just get one thing straight. Having lost the first five games of the 2010 Super 14, the Sharks looked down and out before the Highlanders game last month. Just a few weeks later, the team has pulled of a frankly remarkable turnaround and regardless of whatever the final log position ends up being, they have done superbly over the last five weeks.
In beating the Blues yesterday, the Sharks chalked up their fifth straight victory and extended an unbeaten run over the Auckland team that now stands at six matches over five years. In denying the Blues any log points at all, they also did the Bulls and the Stormers a hell of a favour, although missing out on the bonus point didn’t do their own prospects the world of good.
The jury is firmly out as to whether the Sharks themselves now stand any chance of sneaking into the semis. Sure, a huge amount is going to depend on what the other sides do over the next three weeks, but with three bonus-point victories required in order to end on 40 points – which is likely not going to be enough in any case – the odds are heavily stacked against them. In order for the Sharks to make it, too, it will require both the Bulls and Stormers to lose badly against them, which is certainly not in the broader South African interest. Both of the aforementioned sides will need a victory over the Sharks in order to secure home-ground advantage in the play-offs. In fact, the Stormers could still miss out altogether if they fail to bring any points back from Durban.
My take is that the Sharks probably aren’t going to make it – but that it really doesn’t matter that they don’t. We need to be realistic about where we are and simply cannot discount the fact that our season was already over after we lost in Canberra. All that really matters is the renewed sense of pride that we can feel as our team shows real improvement week on week. They have stood up and showed they are men of character; the future of Sharks rugby indeed looks bright and I hope that we can all look back on the 2010 season as one of missed opportunities, but one in which real progress was nevertheless made.
Well done, Sharks. Let’s go to Loftus and see what the Bulls think of our pack!Tweet