It is not so much specifics of the game itself, or even who they played against, what matters most is that the Sharks came to match-day with the attitude of “We owe it to ourselves, and our fans”.
I have gone about the unpredictability of South African derbies for years now, and during the build up last week, I mentioned to some that the Sharks have had the Stormers’ number for a good 4 years running now, so was I surprised by the result?
Not so much, an upset in a game where one team was playing for a home semi being favourites and the other one out of the competition altogether always had the makings of an upset.
What did surprise me however, was the collective attitude of the Sharks team on Saturday night.
I was at a friend’s house for a braai, and I told him and his dad the Stormers are cruising for a hiding this evening even before the game started.
When you follow rugby a lot, and especially ‘noises’ coming from camps through press releases and what is said to the media you pick up a general vibe of that team.
The vibe during the whole of last week was that the Stormers talked themselves up as favourites, whilst the Sharks kept well below the radar.
But even I did not expect this ball-to-the-wall approach from the Sharks.
I think almost 30 minutes passed before I saw the Stormers string together more than 4 passes. The Sharks simply denied them anything on the night, and it was not so much through tactical or technical superiority that they achieved this, they simply bullied the Stormers in each and every facet of the game.
And I mentioned ‘collective attitude’ before, because this game was not marked by individualistic performances of one or two Sharks players, but rather as a mob-squad playing tag-team in every area of the game for a full 80 minutes, bullying the much more fancied Stormers team.
Some of you might be shocked and Rob arguably a bit pissed that I mention this, but through many private discussions before the season even kicked off both of us believed the Sharks will not feature in this year’s competition for many reasons. And even though the Sharks have lost any chance of a play-off place weeks ago, unlike most other teams out of contention, you get the feeling the Sharks wanted to send one clear message out to their fans; “This one is for us, and for you”.Tweet