The Stormers beat the Sharks by 15 points to 12 on Saturday evening, bagging another four points while leaving the Sharks on no wins after two matches. The match was dominated by the kicking boot, with no tries scored, even though both teams came quite close. The defensive efforts from both sides were the highlight of the game.
The game ebbed and flowed in the favour of both teams, with the Sharks leading at half time 9 – 6, but the Stormers outscoring the away team in the second half, helped by a late penalty from the touchline from Peter Grant, to win the match.
The game never really got going, with handling errors and penalties costing both sides possession, and with Mark Lawrence watching the breakdown like a hawk, nobody quite knew what was to be expected from every ruck/maul situation.
Both team’s backlines looked dangerous, the Sharks more so in the first half and the Stormers outside backs getting better ball once Peter Grant was on the park. As for the Springbok centre pairing in Jean de Villiers and Juan de Jongh, they didn’t exactly outplay the Sharks combo of Meyer Bosman and JP Pietersen.
It was a disappointing game for Sharks supporters, as their team was yet again in a position to win an away game against very tough opposition, but failed to pull through in the final minutes. Credit must go to the Stormers for holding their nerve and having the patience required to get the win.
From a Sharks perspective, the defence was a big positive, as they kept a clean sheet in terms of tries scored against them, and the fact that the line outs improved might come down to Ross Skeate being on the park, or merely that the team worked on in during the week.
The front row was a bit of a problem for the Sharks, as they were under pressure in the scrums all night, even after Jannie came on. What exactly the solution there is, I don’t know. The Stormers’ young front row plainly looked better coached.
The loose trio worked well together, but Botes looked very tired after coming back onto the park in the second half. Plum might have to look at him as no more than an impact player. He did have an impact in the first half though, and along with Bismarck, put the Stormers under pressure at the breakdown, whether legally or not (who knows?). Marcell Coetzee was tasked to be the go forward bash it up player, but one feels he can look outside him once or twice and maybe look to put players into space.
One thing that is quite clear is that Charl McLeod looks in much better nick than Michalak, and should be pushing to start against the Lions this weekend. Pat Lambie was good defensively, but lacked real go forward on attack, getting rid of the ball so soon that the defence merely shifted onto Bosman and Pietersen. Lwazi Mvovo had a good game, and looked good every time he touched the ball, even showing Aplon a clean pair of heals. As for Louis Ludik, I fear he will be shown up on the wing, and should rather make way for an out and out wing to make an impact for the Sharks, like Sithole.
All in all, the match was frustrating to watch, yet the Sharks managed to answer my call from last weekend to just show some improvement. If the improvement continues, and the backline gets to gel as a unit, as well as the return of some injured players, the team could push for honours this year.Tweet