ChrisS

The key to winning and losing rugby


Written by Chris Smith (ChrisS)

Posted in :Cheetahs, Original Content, Reader Submissions, Sharks, Super Rugby on 17 Apr 2014 at 12:52
Tagged with : , , , , ,

I’ve been pondering the reason for the Cheetahs defensive frailties this year and the emergence of the Sharks as a defensive powerhouse and I think I’ve hit upon the answer.

The Cheetahs defensive lapses can be summed up in 3 words:

Brussouw
Oosthuizen
Ebersohn

All 3 play in different positions but there’s some common ground, they’re all brilliant “fetchers”. Another thing that they have in common is that all three of them have been missing from the Cheetahs team this year which has coincided with their poor run of form. The duty of a fetcher is not just to steal opposition ball, he must also secure his own team’s ball at rucks and slow down opposition ball so that his teammates can get into better defensive positions. Anybody who watched the Cheetahs against the Crusaders would have noticed that the Crusaders won a host of turnovers (even Andy Ellis won a few) and that they were getting amazingly quick ball. That quick ball allowed them to run the Cheetahs ragged!

Moving onto the Sharks, I believe that the reason for their improved defensive record this year has been the emergence of Marcell Coetzee as a genuine fetcher. His newfound skills at the breakdown have allowed the Sharks to get the better of most opponents this year, bar the Bulls at Loftus where a change in gameplan saw the Sharks coming unstuck. Hopefully the Sharks and Bok management take note of this trend and take appropriate action to ensure that both teams are stacked full of “fetchers” who can ensure good front foot ball for their team and slow ball for the opposition. Hopefully South Africa can move away from the “size is everything” obsession and start placing more value on skills!



41 Comments

  • Good to see you didn’t mention Bismarck, his fetching pedigree certainly goes without saying! Great article, long gone are those days when fetchers were only good for a beer or two from the fridge.

  • Comment 1, posted at 17.04.14 13:03:54 by uShaka Reply
    Vodacom Cup player
     
  • If Marcell Coetzee does not start for the boks this year…

  • Comment 2, posted at 17.04.14 13:26:29 by West Indies Cricket Board Reply
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  • I know this wont be a popular opinion, but I think to rely on “fetchers” is a poor excuse for what has actually been dead poor defense on a far greater scale than just the fetching component.

    Good defense requires players who have an appreciation for attacking Rugby and can read opposition running lines and passing.

    From a technical point of view the Cheetahs have not stuck to consistent structure; they often have staggered defensive lines, players shooting up out of defense(think Struass on a number of occasions).

    Finally, one last thought, it’s much easier to attack when you draw teams into a lax defensive structure with your own lax structures, perhaps that’s how the Cheetahs like it? Easier to attack when you dont have to retreat from a tight defensive set up?

  • Comment 3, posted at 17.04.14 13:28:31 by Talent Reply
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    TalentCurrie Cup player
     
  • @Talent (Comment 3) : In the end a fetcher helps gain possession. But a fetcher does not make every single tackle and crash ever ball. A team struggling to make tackles (Cheetahs) or create attacking opportunities (Stormers) are going to struggle, if they have a fetcher or not.

    In the Sharks case we have found balance, stealing the ball, defending our line and taking our attacking chances. A balanced team wins rugby, not one type of player.

  • Comment 4, posted at 17.04.14 13:33:10 by Seth101 Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter Author
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  • Yeh look a fetcher helps, especially if your organisation isnt great. So a fetcher slowing down the ball can help an un-organised defense seem decent but that fetcher also runs the risk of costing his team penalties which could influence the game. The biggest problem. The biggest problem at the moment is guys missing straight up 1v1 tackles…and no defensive pattern in the world can compensate for that. Guys just need to man up. There is two sides to rugby…both attack and defense. Unfortunately too many just want to attack and dont put in the same effort on defense or securing the ball. Its as simple as that im afraid.

  • Comment 5, posted at 17.04.14 13:43:07 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 5) Struass is a prime example of that, he spends 90% if the game standing in the back line wanting to run with the ball.

    He reminds me of the large kids at school who chose to play Z team flyhalf instead of B team prop just because they wanted to run and attack. I have always though he is hugely overrated, and now his (as well as others) obsession with wanting to attack all the time is costing the team.

  • Comment 6, posted at 17.04.14 13:48:52 by Seth101 Reply
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  • @Seth101 (Comment 6) : Unfortunately you are correct. The only time a hooker should touch the ball is at a lineout, hooking at a scrum and picking and driving around the fringes. Its a 2 not a 12 on his back

  • Comment 7, posted at 17.04.14 13:55:21 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • Sharks are currently 1st for the most turnovers. Bismarck leading with 11 so far, with Marcel just one turnover behind at 10. Steyn has made 8, Sbura and Alberts on 6, and Deysel 5.

    What makes this more impressive is that we’ve made the least amount of tackles and the 2nd least amount of missed tackles.

    Sharks tackle to turnover ratio is by a long way the best in the competition.

  • Comment 8, posted at 17.04.14 14:00:29 by gregkaos Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 7) : hey what you mean sir?!?!?!?!

  • Comment 9, posted at 17.04.14 14:48:06 by JD Reply
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  • @Seth101 (Comment 6) : the 2014 version of Strauss is now where near as good as the 2013 one. He almost looks a bit over weight?!?!

  • Comment 10, posted at 17.04.14 14:51:44 by JD Reply
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  • If someone is interested College Rovers 36 – 8 up against Old Selbornians with 14min to go.

  • Comment 11, posted at 17.04.14 14:53:47 by JD Reply
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  • And so College Rovers win 36 – 13. Great start Rovers!!!!!!! Good luck for Saturday! !!!!!!!!

  • Comment 12, posted at 17.04.14 15:10:34 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 10) : I personally think its always been a problem with Struass, the only difference is doing it in a winning team makes you look good, doing it in a losing team just exposes their weaknesses even more. Mt feeling is either way he is not contributing a whole lot, just making himself look good with time on the ball, when it should be a backline player with the ball.

  • Comment 13, posted at 17.04.14 15:12:22 by Seth101 Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 10) : And yes he looks extremely unfit, he hardly ever makes it to break downs, and anytime he is involved he is seriously blowing hard afterwards.

  • Comment 14, posted at 17.04.14 15:14:01 by Seth101 Reply
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  • @Seth101 (Comment 14) : that’s exactly my feeling, he’s got huge conditioning problems, almost looks like he’s still enjoying the Christmas holidays?!?!?!

  • Comment 15, posted at 17.04.14 15:36:02 by JD Reply
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  • @gregkaos (Comment 8) : Interesting! Thanks!

  • Comment 16, posted at 17.04.14 15:57:12 by vanmartin Reply
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  • It a combination of leg tackling and having a fetcher that knows how to fetch. The leg tackles expose the ball for the fetcher.

  • Comment 17, posted at 17.04.14 16:17:39 by GreatSharksays Reply

    Assistant coach
     
  • @Talent (Comment 3) : Interesting to note how Sharks supporters have issues with both players that can arguable challenge Sharks players with bok aspirations. I notice increasingly that Goosen and Strauss get picked on. Strauss tops the stats together with Bismarck for turnovers. Yet he is an overweight teletubby etc. I hear what the author says, and his argument has merit. Consider also that the Cheetahs have according to stats, the lowest time in possession in the competition. They have also scored more points off that possession than any other side. It goes without saying that if you are going to have so little possession, you are going to spend an inordinate amount of time defending.

    Cheetahs coaches have blamed turnover possession whilst on attack, and the trut is, that there are very few defensive lines in pace when you cough up possession whilst on attack.

    That said, there have been instances as mentioned when players have rushed out of the line. And yes it needs to be addressed, but it isn’t the only reason.

  • Comment 18, posted at 17.04.14 16:30:07 by KingCheetah Reply

    KingCheetahTeam captain
     
  • @KingCheetah (Comment 18) :

    Dude, do that chip off your shoulder! Just 3 guys have criticised Strauss – not 45000!

    Personally, I rate the guy, but he hasn’t been as good as lady year so far.

  • Comment 19, posted at 17.04.14 16:35:21 by Big Fish Reply
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  • @KingCheetah (Comment 18) : @Big Fish (Comment 19) : think you guys are missing my point, Strauss is a good player, I don’t have a problem with him, but he seems to be carrying a bit of “extra bulk” that was not there last year.

  • Comment 20, posted at 17.04.14 16:51:19 by JD Reply
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  • @KingCheetah (Comment 18) : Pff under Meyer only Strauss would challenge Bismarck, and then he would fail.

    Chip off your shoulder, tannie.

  • Comment 21, posted at 17.04.14 17:08:05 by Talent Reply
    Author
    TalentCurrie Cup player
     
  • @vanmartin (Comment 16) : Can’t help but feel that Jake is turning everyone into a potential fetcher. To me that means that players are supporting each other well and spotting opportunities quicker. Sherylle’s training a major factor here?

  • Comment 22, posted at 17.04.14 17:08:51 by gregkaos Reply
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  • @Seth101 (Comment 4) : I just wish they’d do a way with the term “Fetcher”. You should not prioritize one player to “fetch”, you should train your entire team to be proficient at it.

    @SheldonK (Comment 5) : Very true.

    I think we should be pushing for a paradigm shift, towards players who can read play more than players who just go through the motion. If you look at our defenders who make the worst decisions in defense its often players who are limited with ball in hand.

  • Comment 23, posted at 17.04.14 17:14:41 by Talent Reply
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    TalentCurrie Cup player
     
  • @GreatSharksays (Comment 17) : So whats more important? Leg tackles + fetcher combinations or tag and drag wrap/double tackles. Cant do both.

    Im a fan of aggressive mid field/fringe press defense and wrap tackles, combined with shift and shepherded defense out wide(with fullback rotating into the wings position once he pushes up).

    I think teams should not contest in the midfield/fringe, only out wide where other forwards are slower to the ball. Press the midfield, double tackle and retreat their advantage line.

  • Comment 24, posted at 17.04.14 17:22:06 by Talent Reply
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    TalentCurrie Cup player
     
  • @gregkaos (Comment 22) : @Talent (Comment 23) : I think that was JW intension when he made that beer remark but as National coach it’s not as easy to do as a provincial coach. Playing sevens also strengthened that part of Sithole’s game.

  • Comment 25, posted at 17.04.14 17:23:27 by JD Reply
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  • @Big Fish (Comment 19) : Not just on this blog bud, its a trend on quite a few forums. And nope, no chip in my shoulder. I agree, he hasn’t hit the form showmn last year, but then few in the Cheetahs team have!

  • Comment 26, posted at 17.04.14 17:40:45 by KingCheetah Reply

    KingCheetahTeam captain
     
  • @Talent (Comment 21) : Opinions are like assholes..Everyone has one, and you are entitled to yours.

  • Comment 27, posted at 17.04.14 17:41:34 by KingCheetah Reply

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  • @KingCheetah (Comment 26) : so basically you’re cross because you agree with us about Strauss.

  • Comment 28, posted at 17.04.14 17:44:37 by JD Reply
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  • @KingCheetah (Comment 26) : So all those people are saying it, and its a “trend”, so what they are all wrong and you are right? You basically just killed your own argument, there wouldn’t be a lot of people saying it and “a trend on quite a few forums” if there wasn’t truth to it.

  • Comment 29, posted at 17.04.14 18:11:06 by Seth101 Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 28) : There is a profound difference to saying someone hasn’t played to the form of last year, and saying he is an overrated teletubby etc. Strauss is a good player, and he has done both the Cheetahs and Boks proud. Just because he is direct competition to Bismarck, we now get snotty comments made because of this. Ditto for Goosen, who is slowly getting back to form. How many on here were saying he wouldn’t last two matches etc??

  • Comment 30, posted at 17.04.14 18:12:37 by KingCheetah Reply

    KingCheetahTeam captain
     
  • @KingCheetah (Comment 30) : boet my saying he’s seems over weight has got nothing to do with him being competition for Bissy, it’s got everything to do with him being out of form when he needs to play for fhe Bokke in two months time. As for Goosen he’s talented but needs a season of injury free rugby before I’d rate him as Bok contender, just the same as I would do with Jaco Taute or any other player that spend most of the last season out injured.

  • Comment 31, posted at 17.04.14 18:45:14 by JD Reply
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  • @KingCheetah (Comment 30) : Btw think the biggest problem for Cheetahs this season is they’re missing Robert. He was a super player and only now one can really see what he did for the Cheetahs.

  • Comment 32, posted at 17.04.14 18:48:08 by JD Reply
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  • @KingCheetah (Comment 18) : To be quite honest Strauss has been poor this season, as have the Cheetahs. Playing in a under performing team like he is doesn’t help. Back to basics he is a tight forward, turnovers are a bonus but got to get the basics right. He hasn’t. Running in the back line is a three quarters job and to be honest the centres will always be better at it. On the flip side Bissie has managed both, fetching and tight play, but still not up to his best. The Captaincy holding him back? Goosen? No one seems to be able to rate him as he spend more time in the doctors rooms than he does on the field, I fear we have a talent here that will never be realised. So where do we stand at flyhalf, as expected even with all the hype Jantjies is nowhere, the best two locals are injured. How is my friend Steyn doing?

  • Comment 33, posted at 17.04.14 19:34:32 by markp Reply

    markpUnder 21 player
     
  • @KingCheetah (Comment 30) : Oh no seriously? Far too much brandewyn and to little coke or a major chip on the shoulder. Both the individual players mentioned and the team are so far behind where they should be. To be honest I am disappointed my second favourite team in SA. The only time I am against them is when they play the Sharks. Having said all that I still expect them to play to their potential I just hope its not this weekend. I do share your disappointment. On a younger level I am more worried about Westville getting the better of Grey Bloem on Saturday than the Sharks beating the Cheetahs, even though they sorted out Nico Malan so well today. Notice the only Natal team they put up against Grey.

  • Comment 34, posted at 17.04.14 19:51:00 by markp Reply

    markpUnder 21 player
     
  • @Talent (Comment 3) : spot on and add to that a bone sleg lazy attitude and you have what you have,helter,skelter,7′s rugby high score one end and even higher at other end

  • Comment 35, posted at 17.04.14 19:57:50 by benji Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 32) : Agreed

  • Comment 36, posted at 17.04.14 21:54:18 by KingCheetah Reply

    KingCheetahTeam captain
     
  • @KingCheetah (Comment 36) : glad we agree on something Good luck for your team Saterday, but really hope Sharks nail them.

  • Comment 37, posted at 17.04.14 22:42:49 by JD Reply
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  • I have to say that I have never been a fan of Strauss and him roaming around the backline, even when everyone else rated him. He doesnt look more out of shape now than at any other time. Not in my opinion. Actaully during their Crusaders match I said to a mate that he looks like he slimmed down, adding, off course with all the time he spends in the backline it is to be expected.

  • Comment 38, posted at 18.04.14 10:04:52 by Maria Delport Reply

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  • As for Goosen altough I dont rate him as a ‘complete’ flyhalf, I have always felt that if he works on certain areas of his game, combining it with thf things he is already quite brilliant at, he could be a great addition to sa rugby. I dont think he’s had enough time to work on his shortcomings and in fact, this year he’s looked careful and thus mundane – really nothing special, if anything we’re only still talking about him because of a couple of games in his first CC season.

  • Comment 39, posted at 18.04.14 10:09:42 by Maria Delport Reply

    Under 21 player
     
  • And I agree with the article. You’re defense don’t just suddenly get that bad and I think as stated in the article, the reason for the bad defense is because they aren’t contesting the rucks same as they did last year. When opposition possession is mostly clean it becomes much harder to defend. It might not be the only factor, but it must be a huge contributing factor.

  • Comment 40, posted at 18.04.14 10:13:18 by Maria Delport Reply

    Under 21 player
     
  • @Maria Delport (Comment 40) : if you lose the guy that organised the defence and replace him with a wing that can’t really tackle your defence will suffer. They’re seriously missing Robert.

  • Comment 41, posted at 18.04.14 10:33:09 by JD Reply
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