robdylan

Learn the Lions lesson


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Lions, Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 4 May 2016 at 11:05
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The Sharks have two key data points available to them this week as they prepare to take on the Hurricanes in a game that they simply have to win in order to stay within play-off contention. Paying close attention to both and absorbing the necessary lessons should set them up nicely for that crucial victory.

Looking back at the tour that’s just been, we see a rather interesting pattern has emerged. While the Sharks and Lions are both level in terms of results against Kiwi sides (each team has played four and won only one), the Sharks have lost by an aggregate score of 69-80 and have picked up a losing bonus point in each of the three games they have lost. More interesting still, the Sharks have conceded only eight tries to Kiwi teams in four matches, with seven scored themselves. The Lions, on the other hand, have fared less well, despite their great win over the Chiefs in round two. Their aggregate scoreline against the Kiwi sides they have faced is 105-159, with 13 tries scored and 21 conceded.

You can do whatever you like with those statistics, of course. I’m going to use them to put forward the case that despite all the other great things the Lions have done in 2016, they are not anywhere near as effective against Kiwi sides as the Sharks are.

The two data points I refer to reinforce this belief. On Friday morning, we saw an understrength Sharks team playing away from home (and committing more individual errors than I’d care to count) come within a whisker of beating the New Zealand conference front runner. On Saturday afternoon, we saw a Lions team playing at home getting thumped by the third-best Kiwi team. It’s not so much about the opposition or the venue, of course, but more about exactly what the teams did on the day that made the difference.

The Sharks have been roundly criticised this season for kicking too much, but the reality is that without the kicking-based game-plan they employed in New Plymouth, they wouldn’t have come anywhere near the Chiefs on the scoreboard. Everyone loves the Lions’ helter-skelter approach, but on Saturday, they came properly a-cropper against a team with better skills. For the Lions, set piece and tackle line dominance is a key part of their game and on Saturday they had neither. Their insistence on sticking to their one and only plan despite not having the personnel to be effective was what turned a potentially close game into a rout.

So what should the Sharks do on Saturday? Well, for one thing, they need to make bloody sure they pick their best possible tight five, because the Canes’ dominance against the Lions began in the scrum. The next thing they need to do is ensure they dominate the collisions and occupy the space around the ruck, in order to prevent the Canes swarming their half-backs. Most importantly, though, is to apply the same blueprint they used against the Chiefs, but execute it with 30% more accuracy. Keeping a Kiwi side pinned back, forcing them to make risky plays, frustrating them when they have ball in hand – that’s the way a South African team beats a Kiwi one in 2016.

It may not be romantic and it may not always be pretty, but it’s a lot more likely to succeed than trying to play them at a game that they know well and we’re only just starting to learn.



55 Comments

  • execution and clinical one will return the result.

    cant wait to hear the SS panel complaining about a Sharks win…

  • Comment 1, posted at 04.05.16 11:10:00 by Kabouter Reply
    KabouterCurrie Cup player
     
  • I’d also advise that the Sharks’ captain have a word with the referee before kick-off and ask nicely to keep an eye on that offside-line.

  • Comment 2, posted at 04.05.16 11:16:05 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 2) : same ref as last week….. not sure what to make of that

  • Comment 3, posted at 04.05.16 11:25:29 by robdylan Reply
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  • Great piece Rob. Yeah I think it really important to push the Canes into a game that doesn’t suit them. They’re masters at the high pace game, and thus know how to defend against it too. Intercepts, rush defence, etc.
    While I know most will disagree but I think it’s going to be key for Claasens to slow things down a bit especially if Canes are lurking in offsides positions. This will enable the refs to spot these easier. Obviously on turnovers or when we get them scrambling then up the pace.

  • Comment 4, posted at 04.05.16 11:28:34 by gregkaos Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 3) : There is a report on News24 that the Sharks will be getting Marius vd Westhuizen for the Canes match?

  • Comment 5, posted at 04.05.16 11:31:07 by Bokhoring Reply

    BokhoringAssistant coach
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 3) : Rob, the kicking will need to be very accurate. The Chiefs are great, but they do not have a Jane or any worse, Savea, in the back 3. Pointless kicking will not work in this game.

    The Lions were hurt upfront, which to be fair, can be expected – both props were playing u21 rugby last year and were sorted out quickly.

    We need parity up front, if you give Barrett front foot ball, it will be a very long day for us. I feel the Sharks have been the bravest team in this comp, there work rate on defence is unbelievable, but can we please ask for the same work rate on attack… I agree we need to play them in the right areas, but the kicking will need to be incredibly accurate, otherwise we are going to be in trouble.

  • Comment 6, posted at 04.05.16 11:39:50 by Vonno13 Reply
     
  • Smash them up front and in the tight exchanges….kick deep and make them run it under pressure….Have a full go with ball in hand in their half but no silly passes. That how you beat New Zealand and their super rugby sides. Trying to copy their gameplan will 9 times out 10 see you come second best….and thats a fact.

  • Comment 7, posted at 04.05.16 11:45:04 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 7) : I am afraid no matter how we currently play, we always come second best, kick or run makes no difference. Looking back through the years, NZ are just better than we are, plain and simple. To beat them, we have to be perfect, sad but true.

  • Comment 8, posted at 04.05.16 12:22:04 by Vonno13 Reply
     
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 5) : sorry, I meant the same ref as the Canes had last week, not us :)

  • Comment 9, posted at 04.05.16 12:24:19 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Vonno13 (Comment 8) : New Zealand teams are good, no doubt about that. The best way to beat them is definitely not copying them though…the copy is always not as good as the original. SA sides need to find their own strengths and stick to those to win games. To beat NZ sides you have to be physically up for it for 80min and limit the number of scoring chances off your own mistakes.

  • Comment 10, posted at 04.05.16 12:27:30 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 10) : I would not say good, I would say great :o Look, obviously we need to play to our strengths, the one issue though, is they also have those strengths and more. Where I think we really find it tough, is the size and skill of their backs. They are simply massive. The likes of Nonu, Sonny Bill, Savea – we talking R 110kg athletes with skill to boat. it is never going to be possible to physically dominate such athletes. Secondly, when last did we have a Carter, Wilkinson, Larkham – we never seem to produce a world class flyhalf. It gets depressing

  • Comment 11, posted at 04.05.16 12:38:30 by Vonno13 Reply
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 9) : OK – I was thinking from a Sharks perspective only :)

  • Comment 12, posted at 04.05.16 12:39:35 by Bokhoring Reply

    BokhoringAssistant coach
     
  • @Vonno13 (Comment 11) : Look its definitely not easy…but a lot of those NZ teams momentum comes from them bossing the tackle and rucks…if the SA forwards can make life tough for them there then its a big part of the battle won. Yes they have big backs but make them keep turning to go fetch and run it back and then smashing them in the tackle is not what they like. So yes they are big skillful players…but SA sides have one of the best records against them. But i can tell you this much- trying to beat them playing 7s type run everything rugby is not going to happen

  • Comment 13, posted at 04.05.16 12:56:05 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • Going to be a tough game!!!

  • Comment 14, posted at 04.05.16 13:26:54 by JD Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 13) : ja think your right it will all start upfront. If the Sharks can keep their pack from dominating they could have a chance. Let’s hope they can step up and deliver a solid performance after the tour.

  • Comment 15, posted at 04.05.16 13:38:56 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 15) : The more forward numbers the Canes have to commit to keep their ball and/or defend us the less options they have on attack. They like a free flowing running game…make them grind out yards and their runners will get frustrated and try things they probably shouldnt.

  • Comment 16, posted at 04.05.16 13:43:32 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 16) : for sure. Add some good tactical kicking to keep their backs turning around and Sharks just might do something.

  • Comment 17, posted at 04.05.16 14:36:20 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 17) : If all else fails bribe the ref ;)

  • Comment 18, posted at 04.05.16 14:42:13 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 16) : Bauden Barret is similar to Carter in a way, smash him hard the first 10 min of the game(legally please) and he loses concentration. The games the bokke came close beat the AB’s we either had Butch bullying carter or Marcel and Frans Louw keeping him humble. Tell the twins he slept with their sister and let them loose. No Barret, no canes backline

  • Comment 19, posted at 04.05.16 14:53:41 by jdolivier Reply

    Currie Cup player
     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 18) : hahaha ja that could also work ;-P

  • Comment 20, posted at 04.05.16 14:54:49 by JD Reply
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  • @jdolivier (Comment 19) : ja putting pressure on Barrit could work but the Sharks pack needs to be very sharp to keep them under pressure.

  • Comment 21, posted at 04.05.16 14:58:23 by JD Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 18) : Or just poison the opposition…….http://www.sarugbymag.co.za/blog/details/abs-poisoned-at-1995-world-cup :mrgreen:

  • Comment 22, posted at 04.05.16 15:09:10 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @jdolivier (Comment 19) : All NZ 9/10s are good when they can start running and then distributing…if we force them both to pass early it cuts down a massive part of their attacking game and they will get frustrated.

  • Comment 23, posted at 04.05.16 15:11:04 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 22) : save that for playoff games! ;-D

  • Comment 24, posted at 04.05.16 15:11:28 by JD Reply
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  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 22) : Sounds like someone is looking for his 15min of fame. But im sure a few guys wouldnt mind chipping in for a few prematch beers for the Canes players…

  • Comment 25, posted at 04.05.16 15:14:37 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 13) : Ja for sure, I am with you, but it needs accuracy, kicking for the sake of kicking is not going to work.

    Putting Barritt under pressure is obviously key, but is also easier said than done. I just want to see the focus taken away from defence all the time, I want to see us attack. we seem to have a very good maul, so lets use the maul as an attacking weapon – ie, off second phase etc, form a maul off a ruck, it forces them to get players close in meaning a bit of space on the outside for us.

    I just worry that all this tackling is going to eventually brake us – the damn wall as they say, you can only defend so long and we have been doing so manfully every single game.

    Lets get Jordaan and Le Roux running angles, tired of seeing the NZ teams doing it all the time. Lets make them tackle and defend for their lives.

  • Comment 26, posted at 04.05.16 15:24:30 by Vonno13 Reply
     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 25) : The guy is probably trying to gain asylum in NZ.

  • Comment 27, posted at 04.05.16 15:32:22 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 27) : Its a bold strategy…lets see how it goes haha

  • Comment 28, posted at 04.05.16 15:33:31 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 27) : @SheldonK (Comment 28) : ja not sure why only now after 21 years he decided to speak up?! Something smells a bit off to me!!

  • Comment 29, posted at 04.05.16 15:38:57 by JD Reply
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  • @Vonno13 (Comment 26) : Just bare in mind how the Lions came horribly unstuck against both the Canes and Highlanders….they tried to run it at those sides and make them tackle all day long- the result, they got turned over in the tackle and punished badly as there was no covering defense as they commit fully on attack. So kicking just for the sake of kicking is silly…sometimes you do just need to clear lines and get upfield however. Other times those kicks need to be in conjunction with a good chase and first time tackle. Making their 9/10 pass early requires a rush defense close in…the more decision their inexperienced midfield have to make the better. Id love to see a lot more picking and driving to suck numbers in…i think not enough SA sides utilise that strength. And then by all means in their half have a full go…but throwing 50/50 offloads will only lead to trouble

  • Comment 30, posted at 04.05.16 15:39:09 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @JD (Comment 29) : Maybe he poisoned himself too and has only just recovered :)

  • Comment 31, posted at 04.05.16 15:39:59 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @Vonno13 (Comment 26) : must say the defense has been good in most games let’s hope it’s good again against the Canes!

  • Comment 32, posted at 04.05.16 15:41:37 by JD Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 30) : The thing about the Lions, they seem to use as little numbers as possible at the breakdown, obviously, this is a dangerous ploy. It can come off and has been so far, lets hope that the Hurricanes have not given a blue print on how to beat them. I do not think it is their running game that got to them this past weekend, it was just numbers to the breakdown, to many runners on the outside, no one protecting the ball. Savea at 7 is also a very good loosie and he can Vito, including the 4, terrorised the Lions.

    Rush defence could work, but Willie and the wings will need to be awake, Barritt likes his little grubber and chips over the [email protected]JD (Comment 32) : I think it has been more than good, it has been incredible. Big ups to the defensive coach and fitness coach, no complaints can be made around defence.

  • Comment 33, posted at 04.05.16 15:48:25 by Vonno13 Reply
     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 31) : ja boet or maybe he also fell into a twenty year long sleep like Rip van Winkle!?!?

  • Comment 34, posted at 04.05.16 15:51:20 by JD Reply
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  • @Vonno13 (Comment 33) : ja for sure it has been the top area for the Sharks and like you said huge credit needs to go to the defence and fitness coaches! Now for the rest to catch up the the Sharks will be Golden!!

  • Comment 35, posted at 04.05.16 15:54:26 by JD Reply
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  • @Vonno13 (Comment 33) : The reason the Lions commit so few to the breakdown is because they need the numbers on attack to assist their running game and options on the ball. If they committed numbers to secure their own ball they would then have limited attacking options and their attack wouldnt be the brilliant thing it is hailed to be. If the Sharks can get Barrett to do chip and cross kicks instead of running and passing then that is a win as turnovers from that are difficult to defend. The New Zealand forwards get off the ground a lot quicker than the SA guys do thus allowing them to both flood the breakdowns/contact points and give them options on attack. Once a Sa forward is committed to a ruck/tackle etc he is out of play for the next two phases at least…

  • Comment 36, posted at 04.05.16 15:55:47 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 28) : Little too does he know that I was also there and I saw, and recorded him kicking all those poor AB’s while they lay there writhing in pain while shouting “staan op, dis ‘n ordentlike plek hierdie, julle bosslappers kan nie net hier kom “kip” nie.”

  • Comment 37, posted at 04.05.16 15:58:41 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 37) : aha the plot thickens… :)

  • Comment 38, posted at 04.05.16 16:06:38 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 37) : funny boet! ;-P

  • Comment 39, posted at 04.05.16 16:13:29 by JD Reply
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  • I’ll be interested to see if Claasens and April can control that scoreboard first half. With a team like this you don’t want to give them the confidence to become creative. JP and Willie need to pitch up for defense and we need to have experienced players as loosies so we don’t frustrate our efforts up front with silly handling errors. If we can go into the second half with a level of comfort we can think about winning this one.

  • Comment 40, posted at 05.05.16 07:34:18 by coolfusion Reply

    coolfusionSuper Rugby player
     
  • @coolfusion (Comment 40) : Control the scoreboard in what way? Taking any penalty on offer and drop goals? or more control the areas we play in?

  • Comment 41, posted at 05.05.16 07:58:33 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 41) : Ja points on offer. Also creating the opportunity so we can get back into their 22 often so we can really pressure them for usable penalties. The pivot will need to find those pockets and exploit so we can get easy ground from clever kicks.

  • Comment 42, posted at 05.05.16 08:32:05 by coolfusion Reply

    coolfusionSuper Rugby player
     
  • @coolfusion (Comment 42) : Yeh i agree. The weather is meant to be pretty wet and raining so any kick that lands on the grass will be difficult to deal with…especially under pressure

  • Comment 43, posted at 05.05.16 08:43:03 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @coolfusion (Comment 42) : @SheldonK (Comment 43) : could be interesting if it’s wet as it could help the Sharks although the Canes should be more used to playing in the wet.

  • Comment 44, posted at 05.05.16 10:54:14 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 44) : Any inhibitors would help as long as we can capitalize on them and not spoil our own party with bad handling or poor discipline.

  • Comment 45, posted at 05.05.16 20:20:52 by coolfusion Reply

    coolfusionSuper Rugby player
     
  • @coolfusion (Comment 45) : if it’s wet the Sharks forwards would really need to step up otherwise it may be a long afternoon for Sharks fans!

  • Comment 46, posted at 05.05.16 21:49:26 by JD Reply
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  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 22) :

    This is big!
    Remember in Invictus how Mandela was in the car with the news paper. Did he not say something like, “there must be something we can do to help beat these guys” to one one of his bodyguards?

  • Comment 47, posted at 06.05.16 03:09:45 by fyndraai Reply
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  • @fyndraai (Comment 47) : Im sure sure how factually correct Invictus was but the plot definitely thickens. Just listening to Ian Jones on the Breakdown show when asked about it he says they have all moved on and couldnt really care as they have back to back world cups now

  • Comment 48, posted at 06.05.16 08:42:16 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • ;-P

  • Comment 49, posted at 06.05.16 09:04:59 by JD Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 48) :

    @SheldonK (Comment 48) :

    The guys story that he saw sick ABs is not new at all. Others had testified the same before. On the more important issue of whether it was deliberate or accidental he offered nothing of value.
    Accidental food poisonings happens every day in the world. Even in the most developed countries and quite often to persons from more developed countries visiting in less developed ones.

  • Comment 50, posted at 06.05.16 14:00:20 by fyndraai Reply
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  • CDC estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.

  • Comment 51, posted at 06.05.16 14:01:54 by fyndraai Reply
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  • @fyndraai (Comment 50) : @fyndraai (Comment 51) : Food poisioning is a lot more common than most of us realise. The majority of us will pick up some form of it during a normal year and will often not even present with any tangible signs and symptoms. That scratchy throat, slightly elevated temperature, light headache etc could all be as a result of some food or drink that we ate.

  • Comment 52, posted at 06.05.16 14:18:23 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 52) : Very true

  • Comment 53, posted at 06.05.16 14:29:25 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @JD (Comment 46) : I vote we tape two of their fingers on each hand together at practise or some other hampering to get them to have better handling control. As for how to assess situation and decide on best course for taking contact that should already be part of the curriculum.

  • Comment 54, posted at 06.05.16 15:25:54 by coolfusion Reply

    coolfusionSuper Rugby player
     
  • @coolfusion (Comment 54) : seems as if the ball control was better on Saturday!!! Hope they can keep it up!

  • Comment 55, posted at 08.05.16 14:56:18 by JD Reply
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