Games between Pretoria based Blue Bulls and the Natal Sharks have risen to new heights in recent years. Many, me included, feel robbed of a Super 14 in 2007 and since then the competition has been fierce.
Looking at this weekend’s game, it sees top of the table Bulls against a somewhat lackluster Sharks outfit. Now before my head is bitten off, allow me to explain my reasoning. The Sharks are an exciting team, and I have followed them for over twenty years. Through thick and thin, good times and disastrous campaigns I have pledged my support to them.
Looking at the form of the team, and considering that they have won their last five games, they are in a good winning state of mind. Injuries are currently on their minds with the likes of JP Pietersen out and Riaan Swanepoel still nurturing yet another injury. The backline has shown their intention to attack the last weekend against the Blues but crucial mistakes allowed the Blues to get away. The forwards have come into their own in the last five weeks and in my opinion only the Stormers and the Sharks can match the Bulls upfront who we know base a lot of their play and go forward on their forwards.
In Jean Deysel we have a very good and steady ball carrier, Willem Alberts has also shown why we went to court for him and Jacques Botes is in my eyes one of the most underrated players in SA Rugby. What we need though is a proper established backline to round off the forwards’ hard work. Pienaar is in good form, Goode has not been too bad himself. Pietersen has had a hot and cold season thus far, Swanepoel too many injuries, Strauss doesn’t receive too much game time, Ndungane has tried his best to get as much work as possible, Terreblanche has been shifted and done a decent job at centre and Lambie has impressed me.
The loss of Brad Barritt and Steyn to Saracens and Racing Metro has left a huge void in the Sharks’ depth. Yes we have quality players in the Under 21 and Sharks Academy but those two alone had enough experience between them to be the difference and spark within a backline or team that has scored the least tries in the entire campaign. You get that feeling that Plumtree needs to get the guys firing for Saturday’s clash.
We sport a decent record at Loftus having won three of our six victories against the Bulls in their own backyard. The guys also seem up for the challenge and as an ardent supporter so do I.
The Sharks have the slimmest of chances of making the Semi Finals. That depends on the outcome of some other teams like the Reds and Warratahs. Lets hope that his clash proves out to be worth the anticipation and the result justify if the Bulls deserve to defend their title or the Sharks have hope of growing in stature as a team and return stronger for the Currie Cup.Tweet