robdylan

A tasty hors d’oeuvre, but the main course will be tougher


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 15 Feb 2016 at 10:27
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

I’m sure we all thoroughly enjoyed the last week – after all, it’s been a while since we’ve been able to watch any Sharks rugby at all. Two wins within the space of seven days (and getting to see a number of potential future stars in action) really was a nice added bonus.

I do find myself wondering (back in the cold UK on a sobering Monday morning) just how much we should really read into these results, however. After the year we’ve endured, it certainly doesn’t take much in order for us to see signs of genuine improvement; by the same token, the local journo corps seems only too keen to use the French mini-tour as evidence that the Sharks are one-more early tournament favourites. That’s News24′s Rob Houwing’s take, anyway and I wonder how many of us might not secretly agree.

I’m afraid it’s time for a bit of cold water and a lot of reality, though. As exciting as the French victories were and and much evidence of better play as we did see, unfortunately none of it really means too much in terms of the upcoming Super Rugby. There’s a proverb stating that a fool and his money are soon parted and the Super Rugby corollary to that one is that anyone who decides to place bets in the competition based on pre-season results may well be just such a fool.

The challenge that the Sharks will face in Super Rugby makes this little French jaunt – against two understrength sides who were quite possibly also saving themselves for bigger things to come – pale into insignificance. While it is hugely encouraging to see young players like Juan Schoeman, Christiaan de Bruyn and Garth April stand up and be counted on a cold night in Toulouse, the real test will be to see whether they can do the same against the Chiefs or the Crusaders in a crunch Super Rugby game with actual log points at stake. The French are very quick to hand out trophies (and, bizarrely, overly large wheels of cheese) to the winners of these pre-season match ups, but if any of the Sharks players think that the job is now done, it will be a long time indeed before they next touch one (a trophy, that is. You can buy cheese at Pick’n'Pay).

My message here is simple – and it’s a message to fans and players alike. Keep your feet on the ground. It’s been a fantastic tour, but the race hasn’t even started yet. Despite all the good signs, the Sharks must still be RANK underdogs in this competition (even more so having lost our captain and flyhalf) and each victory in this most gruelling of seasons will be paid for with far more blood than was expected of them in either Toulon or Toulouse.



46 Comments

  • Absolutely agreed and expectations are firmly in check but… damn it was great to watch a Sharks team who remembered how to properly defend.

    We’ll always have France! :grin:

  • Comment 1, posted at 15.02.16 10:33:53 by vanmartin Reply
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  • Checkers these days have the better cheese selections ! I think we are all just happy to see defence, commitment, a bit of guile and a scrum not in high speed reverse.

    The team that played last game should have more than enough firepower for Kings but the next game should give us a truer indication of where these guys stand. Still, I am realistic but optimistic about this season and that the boys in Black and White will not serve the same dreg we saw last season

  • Comment 2, posted at 15.02.16 10:36:58 by Kabouter Reply

    KabouterCurrie Cup player
     
  • I think reading too much into preseason games is quite foolish. But what we can take away is 2 wins, some easy on the eye rugby and the appearance of some decent depth and competition for places. However, we also need to take away that our scrums and lineouts looked shaky and there will be much tougher tests in those 2 departments come super rugby.

  • Comment 3, posted at 15.02.16 10:37:02 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @SheldonK (Comment 3) : The few highlights from Stormers vs Jaguares does create a bit of fear for these departments but the guys looked much better but huge work still to be done there.

    Jaguares will be a tough nut to cracking though

  • Comment 4, posted at 15.02.16 10:41:16 by Kabouter Reply

    KabouterCurrie Cup player
     
  • @Kabouter (Comment 4) : I cant say i watched too much of those highlights, just saw the tries but Stormers are looked fairly good. That field looked shocking though…whats happened at Newlands?

  • Comment 5, posted at 15.02.16 10:50:42 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @SheldonK (Comment 5) : Some serious pitch problems. Last time I saw something so bad was when Newlands cricket relaid their irregation. Compare the pitch to Cape Town stadium for the sevens and Newlands begin to really look like an ancient relic

  • Comment 6, posted at 15.02.16 11:02:29 by Kabouter Reply

    KabouterCurrie Cup player
     
  • @vanmartin (Comment 1) : just hope it’s not a case of what happened in France stay in France!!!! They must carry it forward into Super rugby!!!!!!!

  • Comment 7, posted at 15.02.16 11:05:39 by JD Reply
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  • @Kabouter (Comment 2) : thought I’d give Marco’s new old man a punt :)

  • Comment 8, posted at 15.02.16 11:07:23 by robdylan Reply
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  • The best thing to come out of the pre season,is that the massive gap that we expected to be missing in our team this year,is not that prominent.
    The huge egos that left last year are not going to be missed.

  • Comment 9, posted at 15.02.16 11:12:45 by The hound Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 9) : really hope you’re right and that the replacements will be up to speed/standard when Super rugby starts!!!!!!!

  • Comment 10, posted at 15.02.16 11:19:47 by JD Reply
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  • I watched the first quarter of the second game last night. That first try by S’bura featured skills we haven’t seen on display from the Sharks in many a year. I think based on that alone I’ve enjoyed my rugby more this year than in all of 2015.

  • Comment 11, posted at 15.02.16 11:24:22 by Culling Song Reply
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  • @Culling Song (Comment 11) : And scoring against the run of play is a fine Sharks tradition that we hardly saw in 2015.

  • Comment 12, posted at 15.02.16 11:30:45 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 8) : any news on Lambie maybe?

  • Comment 13, posted at 15.02.16 11:31:18 by Henkb Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 12) : making me eager to watch our games again, if we can keep it up, that was always our strong suit of all the SA unions, our ability to counter attack and to turn deference in to an all out attack that ran the other guys into the ground

  • Comment 14, posted at 15.02.16 11:33:21 by Henkb Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 12) : I watched that again. The skills from Wandi were simply incredible.

    Also, did you guys see what Hyron did to set up S’bura’s try? Flipping phenomenal how he freed that ball and got it to Michael.

  • Comment 15, posted at 15.02.16 11:33:25 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Henkb (Comment 13) : nothing official but unofficially, it’s unlikely to be good news.

  • Comment 16, posted at 15.02.16 11:34:07 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 15) : must say the handling from forwards, backs and subs have taken a light year step up looking at what it was like the last couple of seasons

  • Comment 17, posted at 15.02.16 11:35:00 by Henkb Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 16) : thought as much, in this case no news is not good news

  • Comment 18, posted at 15.02.16 11:35:35 by Henkb Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 15) : Yup, and if memory serves Heimar also contributed? Was a great team effort. Hope we’ll be treated to more of the same.

  • Comment 19, posted at 15.02.16 11:38:52 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 19) : Heimar did nicely, yes. Took the ball from Willie and fed it back inside to S’bura.

    Without wanting to be nasty, though, I wouldn’t really list Heimar as the architect of the try, or anything. He did his job perfectly, but it was not particularly special play for a decent centre.

  • Comment 20, posted at 15.02.16 12:32:29 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 20) : Definitely not the architect but when last have we seen what is simply expected from a centre? There have been some decent solo efforts from the likes of Esterhuizen, Jordaan and Williams during last season but I’m struggling to recall plays where our centres set up our wings for tries. What was Williams doing on the wing? Drawing the defender to open up the inside gap for Sbu and allowing him to run onto the pass at full tilt. Nothing special but still, something we haven’t really managed to get right recently.

    That’s also why I don’t mind Williams not boasting Jordaan’s speed at 13. If he knows what to do to put away a speed-merchant like Sbu then I’m pretty excited to consider him a distributing 13.

  • Comment 21, posted at 15.02.16 13:21:16 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 16) : I enjoyed this article and the other one on Marcel, and then I read your comment re: Lambie….and my mood is back down to the typical blue Monday feel.

  • Comment 22, posted at 15.02.16 13:29:30 by FireTheLooser Reply

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  • @vanmartin (Comment 21) : haha yes, you’re completely right. It was superb play for a Sharks centre given what we’ve seen in recent years.

    Perhaps it just shows how far we’ve fallen, though, when we now consider the “expected” to be “exceptional” :)

    And yes, I do feel like Scrooge.

  • Comment 23, posted at 15.02.16 14:00:00 by robdylan Reply
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  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 22) : sorry man!

  • Comment 24, posted at 15.02.16 14:00:32 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 23) : Just goes to show though, that no matter how great the ability and natural talent, you need to back it up with some decent coaching. I’m still managing expectations here but I strongly suspect that the Sharks have been missing someone like Rob du Preez for quite some time now.

  • Comment 25, posted at 15.02.16 14:10:19 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 25) : I think you are spot on there.

    Interesting factoid (that I didn’t actually realise)… Robert is a couple of years older than Gary.

  • Comment 26, posted at 15.02.16 14:30:27 by robdylan Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 25) : @robdylan (Comment 26) : just glad the Sharks realised what they missed and signed RdP before another team did it!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment 27, posted at 15.02.16 14:36:03 by JD Reply
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  • It’s always good to remain grounded.

  • Comment 28, posted at 15.02.16 14:39:02 by Kiss_the_Gold Reply

    Gold's MemberTeam captain
     
  • @vanmartin (Comment 21) : @robdylan (Comment 23) : but Scrooge even you must admit that having those kind of skills so early in the season must be a bit “exceptional” as the guys are still gearing up for the season and must be seen as a positive for the season to come!!!!!!!

  • Comment 29, posted at 15.02.16 14:39:32 by JD Reply
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  • @Kiss_the_Gold (Comment 28) : glad to see you getting a better feeling now and chnaged your name

  • Comment 30, posted at 15.02.16 14:42:06 by Henkb Reply
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  • @Kiss_the_Gold (Comment 28) : I like your new name :)

  • Comment 31, posted at 15.02.16 14:42:08 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Henkb (Comment 30) : @robdylan (Comment 31) : @Kiss_the_Gold (Comment 28) : from one extreme to the next!?!?!? :shock: :twisted:

  • Comment 32, posted at 15.02.16 14:45:14 by JD Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 23) : the problem with the catch-draw-pass is that too often the catch part has been found lacking..seeing this makes a pleasant change from the bash-fall-place plays.

  • Comment 33, posted at 15.02.16 14:47:35 by 50shadesofshark Reply

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  • @JD (Comment 29) : Don’t get me wrong, I’m very pleased. But I don’t want the players to think their work is done.

    Heimar, to be fair, always has been a very skilful player who’s battled a little in the size obsessed SA game. He had a poor Currie Cup, though. Then again, who didn’t?

  • Comment 34, posted at 15.02.16 14:51:12 by robdylan Reply
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  • I for one am not getting my hopes up about this season. Probably a bit to do with the fact that the new format has made me care a bit less.

  • Comment 35, posted at 15.02.16 15:17:45 by Ben Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 34) : @Ben (Comment 35) : I don’t thin wee need to slaughter the guys if they don’t bring home the cup this year, that is what my head is telling me, but in my heart I have hope, but just to see the change in all the guys so far that took to the field is amazing, I also think for GG and RDP to have genuine effect we need to keep both of them for at least another 2-3 years as coaching staff, if not longer, the same happened with Plum, Finals did not just magically happen in his 1st year as coach

  • Comment 36, posted at 15.02.16 15:27:00 by Henkb Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 34) : 100% correct the hard work is still to come and all the preseason games does not add one log point!!!!!! However the skill and fitness level of the players this year in the preseason games looks waaaayyyy better than in previous years and that creates a bit of hope for the season. As for 2015 I personally think the less said about it the better!!!!!!!

  • Comment 37, posted at 15.02.16 15:30:22 by JD Reply
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  • @Henkb (Comment 36) : really hope the majority of the players will also stay at the Sharks for this rebuilding phase!!!!!

  • Comment 38, posted at 15.02.16 15:33:40 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 38) : I hope so, we need some stability for all the factors to come together, this last 2 seasons did not do well for us, JW with his bulldozer antics (I see Montpelier is also playing the same type of rugby now) and GG was thrown into the deep end last year and had to swim to survive

  • Comment 39, posted at 15.02.16 15:35:56 by Henkb Reply
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  • Shoulder to the wheel, boys! I have no real expectations but I sure hope that we defy the odds and have a screamer…

  • Comment 40, posted at 15.02.16 15:39:39 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @pastorshark (Comment 40) : Al that I want to see is improvement!!!!!!!!!! Anything more will be a bonus!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment 41, posted at 15.02.16 15:42:17 by JD Reply
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  • @Henkb (Comment 39) : must say I really feel for GG as he was heavily criticised for doing the best he could on very short notice. Personally think the powers that be threw him under a bus without to much of a concern for him!!!!!!!! I blame JS and co more for the last couple of years than the coaches as they failed to put things in place to carry the Sharks forwards!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment 42, posted at 15.02.16 15:45:34 by JD Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 26) : I assumed that to be the case without actually ever bothering to check. Do you know who at the Sharks was responsible for Rob’s recruitment?

  • Comment 43, posted at 15.02.16 16:19:38 by vanmartin Reply
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  • want the sharks to go 7 wins from 7 games at home and deny opponents any log points at durban.score running tries.that will be a huge season for me.any away wins will be cherries on top.

  • Comment 44, posted at 15.02.16 16:42:55 by 50shadesofshark Reply

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  • @Henkb (Comment 30) : @robdylan (Comment 31) : @JD (Comment 32) : you guys miss nothing :lol:

  • Comment 45, posted at 15.02.16 16:49:36 by Kiss_the_Gold Reply

    Gold's MemberTeam captain
     
  • @Kiss_the_Gold (Comment 45) : very awake on this Monday boet!! Nice change!!! ;-P

  • Comment 46, posted at 15.02.16 18:07:35 by JD Reply
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