A lot of people seem to be asking me the same question – and it’s one to which I wish I knew the answer! Simply put, Sharks fans are all focusing on a single things this week, that being the question of whether we can actually hope to beat the Stormers at Kings Park this weekend.
Rugby is a funny old game and I think we’ve long since moved on from thinking that paper-based analyses of team line ups can ever really be used to predict what will happen with complete accuracy. While the Sharks started the season with high hopes of romping to a home semi-final, based mostly on a deep squad with plenty of experience, reality set in pretty quickly with the whole somehow proving less than the sum of the parts. The Stormers, in contrast, have shown an ability to gel as a team despite regular losses of key personnel to injury and the ensuing replacement of those players with raw youngsters – and one Canadian that nobody has ever heard of.
There have been numerous theories put forward, of course…. the Sharks will win because their squad is fitter, the Stormers will win because the Sharks discipline will let them down, the Sharks will win because they know how to score tries, the Stormers will win because they never conceded tries… at the end of the day, any of these theories could be correct, or all of them could be completely wide of the mark. Hell, perhaps we’ll even see the Stormers flinging the ball around wildly like they used to do, and the Sharks concentrating on defence and kicking penalties? Anything, I guess, could really happen.
What I feel will prove telling, though, in this match between two quite evenly-matched teams, is the old cliché about “the team who wants it more”. This game, I feel, is going to be won in the top two inches and it’s here that the Sharks are going to have the greatest challenge to overcome, because the Stormers are on a confidence high. That said, the Sharks know that they simply cannot afford to lose this game and still hope to contest a play-off, whilst for the Stormers, while a loss would be a setback, it will by no means be the end of the world for them.
Let’s hope that the boys in black and white are able to keep the “playing for our lives” vibe going this week in order to put one over a side that they haven’t managed to beat in Super Rugby for a wee while now. Failing to do so could all but bring down the curtain on this campaign – and I’m sure the players all know that.Tweet