robdylan

Retention key to (slim) Joburg hopes


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Lions, Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 29 Mar 2017 at 08:58
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There’s no denying that the Sharks face a hell of a big task this weekend, heading to Johannesburg to take on the high-flying Lions. This, after all, is a team that has not lost at home in nearly a year and has won comfortably against the Sharks every time they have played over the last 24 months.

In fact, you have to go back to 2014 and the Lions’ “dark days” to find the last memory of a Sharks victory at Ellis Park. Insurmountable-seeming odds, in other words, but if we know one thing about rugby it’s that rules are meant to be broken and the underdog will always have his day.

Now, we can look at the individual contests and mini battles all day – and there will be some interesting ones here for sure. The scrums will be a good indication of how far the Sharks have come, after getting regularly hammered in this phase last year. Lineouts should be about even, with the contest between Jean-Luc du Preez and Ruan Ackermann one to savour as two of the country’s premier young blindsides face off. Will the Lions’ attacking midfield run riot again this week, even against the defensively intimidating Sharks pair of Esterhuizen and Am? How will Curwin Bosch do in a one-on-one contest against experienced Elton Jantjies? We could go on.

For me though, there is one factor and one factor alone that can give the Sharks a chance of victory here: possession. You cannot hope to tackle the Lions into defeat – you have to defeat them by starving them of ball and making them reckless. They are not the best defensive side, but are deadly on attack; you can’t attack without the ball, though, so for me it would make sense for the Sharks to make “retention” their watchword ahead of this vital clash.

We saw against the Brumbies that the Sharks are capable of playing a ball in hand game, and that they need to reign in the temptation to execute scrumhalf box kicks in order to implement this style. Personally, I’d like to see the Sharks have a full crack at Ellis Park on Saturday playing this way – keeping the ball, running the plays and forcing the Lions to tackle until they grow tired of it. We may not even need to score all that many tries this way, because defending teams tend to concede more penalties and we have a guy in our ranks who’s proved very adept at converting those into points.

Could this be the way, the only hope we have, of recording an upset victory? I think it might be.



54 Comments

  • Curwin taking aim from 65m+ at Ellis Park, that’ll put serious fear into the opposition (circa 2009 Boks vs AB’s).

  • Comment 1, posted at 29.03.17 09:05:21 by FireTheLooser Reply
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  • If CB has a very good game against Elton, he will only increase his chances of being included in AC’s team. Not sure if that is such a good idea, but our other FHs have not really been playing that great this year. Pollard has really been nowhere and I think Elton’s kicking stats will count heavily against him.

  • Comment 2, posted at 29.03.17 09:09:31 by HeinF Reply
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  • You have Bosch. Easy win for you guys . lions have no chance

  • Comment 3, posted at 29.03.17 09:17:20 by Zibbie Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 3) : LOL…. shoosh you!

  • Comment 4, posted at 29.03.17 09:18:15 by robdylan Reply
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  • Think with Rohan at 12 I’d prefer April at 10 with Bosch at 15. They can interchange on attack. Sharks will also have to look at their pillar defence as Lions will make them pay if it’s as poor as it was against the Cheetahs!

  • Comment 5, posted at 29.03.17 09:19:50 by JD Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 3) : glad you relised it! Sharks by 20! :twisted:

  • Comment 6, posted at 29.03.17 09:21:52 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 6) : 120

  • Comment 7, posted at 29.03.17 09:22:52 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 7) : wanted to go for that but I was scared that Zibbie might start crying! :mrgreen:

  • Comment 8, posted at 29.03.17 09:32:03 by JD Reply
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  • which ever loosies run the show will win. If we can force Kriel and Whiteley to play tight, the Lions lose a lot of attacking cohesion and can get flustered but if they are first and third receiver a lot of tackling awaits.

    Go boys, it is time Ellis Park gets breached

  • Comment 9, posted at 29.03.17 10:00:21 by Kabouter Reply

    KabouterCurrie Cup player
     
  • First thing then would be to give both scrumhalves a talking to and either get them to be much more accurate on their box kicks (90% not even Usain Bolt would be able to contest) or stop that tactic altogether.

  • Comment 10, posted at 29.03.17 10:36:28 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • @Kabouter (Comment 9) : basically our forwards will need to play one hell of a game to force their loosies to play tighter and to put as much pressure as possible on their 8-9-10-12 to disrupt their attacking gameplan!

  • Comment 11, posted at 29.03.17 10:47:58 by JD Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 3) : C’mon man, he’s no Pollard.

  • Comment 12, posted at 29.03.17 10:51:10 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 10) : a couple of those “box kicks” was so far that you would struggle to compete even if you were chasing them on one of the “Cheetah Harleys”! :???:

  • Comment 13, posted at 29.03.17 10:51:27 by JD Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 12) : yes there can be only one Pollard!!! and luckily for the Sharks the Bulls signed him and are paying his medical bills!!! :twisted:

  • Comment 14, posted at 29.03.17 10:54:52 by JD Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 12) : no CB is not .. he is EVEN better !!!

  • Comment 15, posted at 29.03.17 11:03:45 by Zibbie Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 15) : oh but we know that’s why Sharks signed him!!!

  • Comment 16, posted at 29.03.17 11:08:34 by JD Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 15) : Twitter hath decided so

  • Comment 17, posted at 29.03.17 11:22:50 by vanmartin Reply
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  • seems you guys are already confident of the win . so i dont have any work to do here :P

  • Comment 18, posted at 29.03.17 11:25:19 by Zibbie Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 17) : twitter giveth , Twitter taketh

  • Comment 19, posted at 29.03.17 11:27:32 by Zibbie Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 18) : for sure that’s why my pick on Superbru is already locked in!!! Just check my profile pic after Saturday that guy is going to be in your nightmares!!! :twisted:

  • Comment 20, posted at 29.03.17 11:31:30 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 20) : sharks by 25 ?

  • Comment 21, posted at 29.03.17 11:46:35 by Zibbie Reply
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  • I hope Curwin watched the tape of last week’s games. He really should sharpen up his defence around the breakdowns. Other than that I think the sharks have a good shot. Does anyone know who will be starting fb yet?

  • Comment 22, posted at 29.03.17 11:51:02 by coolfusion Reply

    coolfusionSuper Rugby player
     
  • @Zibbie (Comment 21) : Tell you what, you back the Sharks on SuperBru and I’ll back the Lions :grin:

  • Comment 23, posted at 29.03.17 12:48:58 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 21) : No, 120! Pay attention… :lol:

  • Comment 24, posted at 29.03.17 12:53:55 by pastorshark Reply
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  • Yeah look, the breakdown and defence will be absolutely key! Lions favourites…we’ll have to pull out a Waratahs breakdown performance to have a chance…

  • Comment 25, posted at 29.03.17 12:56:19 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 23) : flip i dont know . Think the GSP hinges on this game .. going to be good !!!

  • Comment 26, posted at 29.03.17 13:02:52 by Zibbie Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 23) : Done, how are you standing in superbru at the moment?

  • Comment 27, posted at 29.03.17 13:05:09 by Dunx Reply

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  • @Zibbie (Comment 21) : Ja by one of those two!

  • Comment 28, posted at 29.03.17 13:18:51 by JD Reply
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  • @Dunx (Comment 27) : 11 places behind you in the Sharksworld pool. You backing the Sharks this week?

  • Comment 29, posted at 29.03.17 13:22:18 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 29) : Dam straight. But i am unsure as to who will win, too tight to pull a clear winner. The placings are way to close in the pool any hiccup and the order will change. Are you backing the lions?

  • Comment 30, posted at 29.03.17 14:01:57 by Dunx Reply

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  • @Dunx (Comment 30) : I’m definitely leaning towards the Lions but would like a look at the team sheets before making a final call. Sharks could definitely take it but execution in certain departments would need to be close to flawless. For example, Sharks still fall asleep way too often after a score for my liking. Just don’t think we’re quite there yet. Would love to be proved wrong though!

  • Comment 31, posted at 29.03.17 14:17:53 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 31) : I would call the Lions favourites too (the bookies gave them a 7.5 point handicap) but I just have a feeling our boys might be the hungy enough for this match. If we win this, everything changes. We go from being promising to being contenders overnight. I. Can. Not. Wait.

  • Comment 32, posted at 29.03.17 14:31:58 by West Indies Cricket Board Reply
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  • @West Indies Cricket Board (Comment 32) : Agreed. Beat the Lions at Ellis Park and expectations certainly change.

  • Comment 33, posted at 29.03.17 14:35:04 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 33) : Obverse is also true loss to Lions at Ellis Park is not a season ending tragedy for Sharks,but for the Lions to lose is a big ding to confidence of Lions.
    More pressure on them, and I think our team is more consolidated than they are this year and that could be the difference.They have looked a little windgat this year and with major competition for places all over the field they are not that united unit of unknowns they were last year.

  • Comment 34, posted at 29.03.17 15:06:00 by The hound Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 34) : True but although there may be a little more arrogance this year they’re still playing as a pretty cohesive unit compared to some other teams at least. I’m sure Coach Rob will try to box as clever as possible though.

  • Comment 35, posted at 29.03.17 15:14:31 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 35) : Hmm front row without Julian Redelinghuys and three quarters without Tecklenburg,and back three without Ruan Combrinck,not the same raw dog fuck as last year.

  • Comment 36, posted at 29.03.17 15:38:34 by The hound Reply
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  • @Dunx (Comment 27) : @vanmartin (Comment 29) : well both of you are way ahead of me!

  • Comment 37, posted at 29.03.17 16:30:30 by JD Reply
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  • @West Indies Cricket Board (Comment 32) : @vanmartin (Comment 33) : @The hound (Comment 36) : yes think it’s going to be very hard but this is the best chance the Sharks had since 2014 to beat the Lions in Jozi! Sharks forwards will really have to step up big time!

  • Comment 38, posted at 29.03.17 16:36:27 by JD Reply
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  • A tweet from Reinach.

    cobus reinach?Verified account @c_reinach 3h3 hours ago
    More
    Incorrect information is spreading a whole lot of confusion. To clear it all up. I’m contracted with the Sharks untill the end of the year..

  • Comment 39, posted at 29.03.17 19:42:48 by sharks_lover Reply
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  • @sharks_lover (Comment 39) : End of the calendar year or the end of the Super Rugby season (year)? His tweet to clear up confusion just added more confusion, in fact I would say he didn’t “clear up” anything at all.

  • Comment 40, posted at 29.03.17 20:42:54 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @sharks_lover (Comment 39) : @Dancing Bear (Comment 40) : probably end of 2017 but I think Sharks would release him early (just after Super rugby and before Currie cup) to join his new club at the start of the northern season.

  • Comment 41, posted at 29.03.17 20:49:40 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 41) : Are you clarifying Reinach’s clarifying tweet? :lol: :mrgreen:

  • Comment 42, posted at 29.03.17 20:55:04 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • Good article and a valid point Rob. Last year the Lions managed to restrict their opponents to approx. 13 minutes possession per game, which allowed them quick ball and multiple phases. Restrict their possession and slow down their ball and the Lions will not be able to play their fast paced game.

    Hopefully the Lions have worked on alternative strategies to counter that :grin:

  • Comment 43, posted at 29.03.17 21:00:55 by Baylion Reply

    BaylionSuper Rugby player
     
  • I feel the boys have every chance of knocking over the Lions but we need to be incredibly clinical and I’m not sure this team is capable of that for 80 minutes just yet. Hope the guys stay patient and focused throughout. What a mouth watering encounter this is!

  • Comment 44, posted at 29.03.17 21:17:58 by Hulk Reply

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  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 42) : yes yes I am!!! I speak Reinach fluently!!! :twisted:

  • Comment 45, posted at 29.03.17 21:31:29 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 45) : Just so long as you can understand Reinach perfectly and can then translate into either English or Afrikaans. :mrgreen: :lol:

  • Comment 46, posted at 29.03.17 21:34:02 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @Hulk (Comment 44) : it will be impossible for Sharks (or any other team) to contain the Lions for 80min. They must just score evey time they have an opportunity to ensure they have a as much points as possible to negate those periods of play where Lions are unstoppable.

  • Comment 47, posted at 29.03.17 21:37:25 by JD Reply
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  • @Baylion (Comment 43) : I’ve seen very little of the Lions this year but what I’ve seen I don’t think they’re as good as last year.

  • Comment 48, posted at 29.03.17 21:41:37 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 48) : I’m not worried at this stage. Initially some early season rust and the Japan players taking time to settle in but the Lions seems to have settled into a rhythm against the Reds and the Kings even though the second 40 against the Kings wasn’t good (my “theory” is that the Lions did it on purpose to create some pressure to play under and I’m sticking with that :grin: One of Ackers’s “secret” plans?)

    This weekend should be a good indication as to where the SA teams stand in relation to each other

  • Comment 49, posted at 30.03.17 05:53:50 by Baylion Reply

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  • @JD (Comment 47) : I’m not saying we need to defend defend defend, but rather instead of the rushed offload or flick pass just keep grinding forward inch by inch. We won’t beat them playing flashy rugby we need to do it with grunt and sheer minded determination. The urge to “quickly pass or float one over the top” needs to be reigned as we try to retain possession for as long as possible.

  • Comment 50, posted at 30.03.17 08:28:28 by Hulk Reply

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  • @Hulk (Comment 50) : Agree with you, like we did against the Brumbies. We showed a lot of patience with ball in hand, didn’t kick away possession and we racked up the phases when attacking, patience.

  • Comment 51, posted at 30.03.17 08:37:28 by Quintin Reply

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  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 40) : DB it is pretty clear, It states end of the year, this means end of the year and not end of SR or end of CC, will he be released early? who knows, will he also play CC? who knows.

  • Comment 52, posted at 30.03.17 08:45:42 by sharks_lover Reply
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  • @Hulk (Comment 50) : yes Sharks will only beat them by hard work! They must be physical in attack and defence.

  • Comment 53, posted at 30.03.17 17:08:30 by JD Reply
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  • @Baylion (Comment 49) : should be a hard game! Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying the Lions are weak or playing bad just don’t think they’re as good as they were last year. But by saying this they will now probably go and beat the Sharks by 50 points! :lol:

  • Comment 54, posted at 30.03.17 17:12:21 by JD Reply
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