For Sharks fans, this is going to be a frustrating weekend indeed.
Sure, we’ll get the freebie four points that don’t do as much as they should to make these damn bye weekends any more tolerable, but there’s a real feeling of helplessness pervading, as we are forced to sit back and watch other sides take destiny into their own hands, while we cannot (at least for this week). We know we’ll end on 49 points at the end of this week, but what results would best suit us in the other games? Sharksworld investigates…
The Waratahs and Blues will get 4 points each as well, but since neither side is still in reach of the knock-outs, we’ll not worry about them too much. From a general point of view, it’s the Hurricanes, Highlanders and the Reds that pose the biggest threat to the Sharks, with the smart money being on only one of those four teams making it through.
In the opener, we want the Chiefs to win. The Highlanders are currently just a point behind us and since we’ll never catch the Chiefs anyway, it’s far better for us if they continue winning. Should the Landers win well, they’ll be right up our noses again and may even end up level on 49 if they get a bonus point. More wins would see them go ahead of us as a result.
Since we’re picking results, we’d obviously love for the Rebels to shock the Reds in the second game. That one would buy us a little breathing space and keep the Brisbane lot off our backs. Should they win and pick up a bonus point, they’ll go ahead of us on the log and will be pretty hard to catch from there, with two quite easy games to follow.
The next game then becomes a no-brainer to call. We want the Crusaders to trounce the Hurricanes. It’s vital that the men from Wellington do not pick up 4 points from this game – that will ensure that our bye points move us about them on the log and back into sixth place. This is perhaps the most important game of the weekend for us and Sharks fans should take a leaf out of the books of their Cape Town brethren this weekend and support the Crusaders en masse.
The Force-Brumbies game isn’t all that important, but it’s probably better for the Brumbies to win it, since if we do end sixth, I’m sure we’d prefer to play the Brumbies in the knock-outs than the Reds, since we’ve already won in Canberra once this season.
The Stormers-Lions game is unfortunately of very little importance, since it’s no longer realistically possible for the Sharks to overhaul the men from the Cape and win the conference. It would be nice for the Lions to win, I guess, but it’s not really going to happen and I’m still cross with them for beating the Sharks, so I also won’t cry if the Stormers kill them (by 6 points, like they always do).
Bizarrely, though, we actually want the Bulls to win against the Cheetahs. Although we could still overtake the Pretoria side, looking at the log permutations, we probably don’t really want to. The side that finishes fifth on the log now looks likely to be heading to Christchurch for a play-off game and given how badly that one worked out for us last year, frankly, I’d rather avoid it. If the Bulls manage to get so far ahead of us on the log that even a win against them next week (which is non-negotiable for us) doesn’t see us move into 5th spot, that would actually be ideal. It’s a bit defeatist, but I’d far rather have a crack at the Brumbies in Canberra than the Crusaders anywhere on earth.Tweet