We can take these guys upfront

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super 14 on 6 Mar 2008 at 11:20
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I’ve looked at the Blues tight five and I think we can beat them there.

The key here is to start with the strongest tight 5 we can, meaning starts for Jannie du Plessis at loosehead, Skipper Badenhorst (!!!) at hooker and Steven Sykes at lock.

Sure, Skip can’t throw for shit, but he’s a lot bigger than Burden is and a technically better scrummager. Sykes might not be at his sharpest yet, but he’s a big boy with just the sort of mean streak you need to keep the Blues in check.

What is absolutely crucial for the Sharks is that we don’t weaken our bench. This might sound absurd, but the introduction of Beast, Burden and Albert in the second half is our real trump-card in the pack. We need to keep those guys fresh for a late onslaught, meaning taking a few chances in the run-on team.

The Blues didn’t start with Mealamu last year. They relied on the impressive Derren Whitcombe to do the damage in the opening periods and then brought troll-face on later to play an open game. Mealamu might be suited to the ELV’s, but he is not strong player when it comes to the tight phases. Tire him out and the Blues only have the unheralded Tom McCartney to come on. John Afoa and Tony Woodcock are strong props, but the Sharks lads bested them with some ease last year. BJ is still there and Jannie is a better scrummager than Carstens, so we have essentially gone forward here. The Blues have the uncapped Bronson Murray as their prop reserve; we have Beast. Again, no contest.

Troy Flavell is a dangerous customer, but he’s also a retreaded flanker. Last year, the Blues had a huge lock pairing in Williams and Rawlinson, but Muller and Ackies handled them superbly. Both of the aforementioned players have left, weakening the Blues second row substantially as a result. We don’t have Ackermann anymore, but Muller is having a superb season and Sykes will just need to go out there and do what we know he is capable of. Again, we have the experienced Al van den Berg to come on in the second 40, whereas the Blues’ Bryn Evans is a rookie at this level.


  • Blues tight five for last year’s semi was Woodcock, Whitcombe, Afoa, Williams, Rawlinson, for the record. They have lost 3 of those guys.

    Ours was Mtawarira, Smit, Botha, Ackermann, Muller. With Jannie coming in at 1 and hopefully Sykes at 4, it is only really at hooker where we are a lot weaker.

  • Comment 1, posted at 06.03.08 11:21:53 by robdylan Reply
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  • You make valid points Rob, but you cant seriously be suggesting that a barely fit, ring-rusty Steven Sykes is an adequate replacement for the nail-spitting Johan Ackermann?

    Further, Skipper is REALLY scraping the barrel, though I agree that he is a safe bet to start. thing is though, Burden might just rock if he starts, so it might be a risk worth taking.

    Additionally, we dont have the likes of Percy and Butch to add experience, tactical kicking and steely defence.

    I agree with your formula, but I have serious doubts about our ability to make it successful, based on personnel. Hope like hell that I am wrong!

  • Comment 2, posted at 06.03.08 11:32:53 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • Hey – I’ll be the first to admit that I’m clutching at straws here. 😉

  • Comment 3, posted at 06.03.08 11:39:02 by robdylan Reply
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  • I reckon we need to hit them hard up-front, use a quick loose trio to keep possession and spoil theirs, and importantly, we need to attack them at pace.

    Seems foolhardy, but the Cheaters did show that their defence can leak tries. If we just play off the back foot, they WILL eventually score.

    Toeva has suspect hands and can be flat-footed on defence, and Stanley is good but not great.

    Tuitavake and Atiga will also be under a bit of pressure – we need to test these guys with bombs and some runners at pace.

    Kanko and the lads should also run the ball at Williams and co and see how good they are on cross-defence, as opposed to direct defence.

  • Comment 4, posted at 06.03.08 11:48:20 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • Yeah – I like.

    I watched the clips of all three of Joe R’s tries against the Cheetahs. In all three cases, there was absolutely PATHETIC defence by the Cheetahs to blame.

  • Comment 5, posted at 06.03.08 11:51:20 by robdylan Reply
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  • Rob, are you gonna call Dick or should I? 😆

    I know this has often been my particular drum, but I just feel that JPP and Murray can be awesomely dangerous runners if we just give them something to work with.

    Murray is quick and huge, and if he can run the kind of lines that Joe Rockoco runs, he will be just as dangerous. JPP is deceptively quick and strong, and he also has a great step and an ability to just glide into space. I fancy his chances against any defence.

  • Comment 6, posted at 06.03.08 11:57:49 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • Big Fish,

    They just need to get the ball from the inside backs… 😉

    Just check how many times the Crusaders & Blues inside backs do it… 😀

  • Comment 7, posted at 06.03.08 12:36:44 by Charlie Reply

  • they must also water the field before the game and it must rain tomorrow night. the flasher girls must stay out all game and flash whenever the boys need more support. oh and maybe susie can visit the blues team tomorrow night.

  • Comment 8, posted at 06.03.08 12:43:58 by try time Reply

  • JP needs to start backing himself rather than losing momentum looking for someone to pass to and WM needs to step before running into the tackle and powering through…

    Bit harsh on Mealamu Rob.. he’s a beast in the loose and tight work… huge upper body strength and quick… his only perceived weakness is his lineout throws…

    When I was watching Nick Williams play last week I immediately had visions of Luaki running over Botes last season… hope our loosies are up to the task…

    If we are to take this game, besides all systems firing mistake free… we have to ensure they are doing all the defending… the Blue’s only real weakness is pressurised defence…

  • Comment 9, posted at 06.03.08 13:03:29 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • ok the flasher girls are more for me, but i had to try my luck.

  • Comment 10, posted at 06.03.08 13:11:13 by try time Reply

  • will bismark be fit? anyone know?

  • Comment 11, posted at 06.03.08 13:12:20 by knersboy Reply

  • by Gavin Rich | 06 March 2008 (11:15)

    It wasn’t what they would have been looking for last week, but the fourth round of the Vodacom Super 14 should see the Sharks hoping to suck their Blues counterparts from Auckland into an arm-wrestle in their appetising top of the log fixture in Durban.

    At Loftus the Sharks were not happy when an electric storm unleashed it’s fury on proceedings about half an hour before kick-off. Coach Dick Muir had been hoping to run the Bulls off their feet, as the Crusaders had the previous week, and he had made no secret during the buildup that his men were looking forward to the drier, less humid conditions of the Highveld.

    The rain that drenched the Loftus field did not facilitate such an approach, however, and it does not take rugby rocket science to assume that the Sharks were forced into a hurried change of plan in the half hour before kick-off. Instead of an expansive game, they went out to keep it tight, with the forwards and the tactical kicking suddenly becoming the main focus.

    There shouldn’t be any change of plans at Absa Stadium on Saturday. The Sharks like playing running rugby when they can, but their experience from last year’s clashes with the Blues will remind them that their best bet will be to keep it tight, to front up at forward and to be pinpoint with the tactical kicking so that the dangerous Blues counter-attackers don’t have space to play with.

    We saw this approach work perfectly when the Sharks scored a good win in Albany, while it started to look a little scratchy for the Sharks after half time of last year’s semifinal when the Blues did start to run at them. Fortunately for the Sharks, Hasaiah Toevea was injured just when the momentum seemed to be swinging to the Blues.

    That last mentioned match though was played in May, when it is a lot less humid. You can bet your last tank of petrol that this still being the beginning of March, it will be humid on Saturday, and this will have an impact on any intent the Blues may have to run the ball and stretch the Sharks defence.

    There have been some quite bruising yet compelling street fights or arm-wrestles between the Sharks and the Blues over the years and usually when this is the case in a Durban match it is the Sharks that come out with a narrow victory.

  • Comment 12, posted at 06.03.08 13:21:20 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • Rob, big call. But i do hope the sharks can pull it off, they are looking like our only decent hope

  • Comment 13, posted at 06.03.08 13:25:16 by Sauce Reply
    Worcestershire Sauce
  • farking HUGE call… hope to God I’m right. Wish the Sharks would just announce the team, though, so we can have something slightly less speculative to work off.

  • Comment 14, posted at 06.03.08 13:30:27 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • I’m waiting with baited breath for the Sharks team announcement and who is out with injuries. From there we will know whether we have faith or hope in a win….

  • Comment 15, posted at 06.03.08 13:33:58 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • The Blues will klap the Guppies if they dont pick Botes & Daniels. Their backline is going to run riot with you lot.

  • Comment 16, posted at 06.03.08 14:01:09 by PaarlBok Reply

  • It’s baiting two traps at once illegal?

  • Comment 17, posted at 06.03.08 14:05:57 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • nonsense. Our backline knows how to tackle, unlike those Cheetahs and Lions moffies.

  • Comment 18, posted at 06.03.08 14:06:04 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Just hope they dont leave Barrit out like some suggest. 🙄 Hell why is the Sharks team always last announced. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 19, posted at 06.03.08 14:11:06 by PaarlBok Reply

  • …and 3 hooks in the same place is definitely illegal….but that’s those Cape poachers for you 😉

  • Comment 20, posted at 06.03.08 14:14:32 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • Steyn at 10 and Brad at 12 if you really want to keep that midfield watertight. Put Terblacnhe at 15 and that’s one of the best defensive backlines you’ll see.

    Only problem is to stop the stupid tactical kicks from Frans at 10.

  • Comment 21, posted at 06.03.08 14:21:45 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Dive Pass, you know your name started at Stellenbosch with Doc Craven like the ELVs! Watch that tipping on superbru, there is no snoek in this heated Slaapstad or Ysterfontein, so no need to throw out baits broer! 😳

  • Comment 22, posted at 06.03.08 14:24:15 by PaarlBok Reply

  • 06.03.08 14:24:15 – PaarlBok

    You will be interested to know my father-in-law is a Bolander…we are actually going to be in your beautiful part of the world on the week-end for his birthday.

  • Comment 23, posted at 06.03.08 14:30:36 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • Really need this team to be announced now

  • Comment 24, posted at 06.03.08 14:42:58 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Does our mutual friend get the team first?

  • Comment 25, posted at 06.03.08 14:47:02 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • DP, I edited that last comment in the interests of protecting anonymity 😉

    He gets it a little early, yeah… just so the official site can do the announcement first.

  • Comment 26, posted at 06.03.08 14:51:21 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • What gives!

  • Comment 27, posted at 06.03.08 14:54:13 by Dawn Reply

  • Is that the Cape morning rise?

  • Comment 28, posted at 06.03.08 14:56:58 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • hello Dawn! Welcome to Sharksworld

  • Comment 29, posted at 06.03.08 15:00:53 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Sorry Rob,

    I don’t agree with this. No WAY would I start with Skipper. I don’t know what the stats say but he isn’t much bigger than Burden and I really don’t see his scrummaging as a significant improvement on Burden’s. I’d be surprised if there was any noticable difference.

    Yes we need to take them on in the tight 5 but I can only see us edging them in this phase at best, certainly not destroying them. As we have lost Ackers and AJ is likely to be out, then I don’t see that we have any other choice byt Sykes. He had a good season last year but is still making his way back after injury and likely to be rusty.

    The reason I am optimistic about our chances rests more with the conditions in Durban at this time of the year. Hot and muggy conditions are not conducive to high speed, free-flowing rugby..the type that the Blues love to play. I can see them making numerous handling errors if they do try their usual approach and if our guys can be in their faces and extemely physical on defence, this could lead to panic from the Blues. In addition, they could tire in the last 20 minutes with the humidity (also following a toughish game last week)and this is when our bench can come into their own for the 2nd week running.

  • Comment 30, posted at 06.03.08 15:41:30 by Villie Reply
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  • Sharks Starting XV

    15. Francois Steyn
    14. Stefan Terblanche
    13. Waylon Murray
    12. Bradley Barritt
    11. JP Pietersen
    10. Frederic Michalak
    9. Rory Kockott
    8. Ryan Kankowski
    7. Jacques Botes
    6. Keegan Daniel
    5. Johann Muller ( Capt )
    4. Albert van den Berg
    3. BJ Botha
    2. Bismarck du Plessis
    1. Jannie du Plessis

    16. Craig Burden
    17. Tendai Mtawarira
    18. Steven Sykes
    19. Jean Deysel
    20. Charl Mcleod
    21. Adrian Jacobs
    22. Odwa Ndungane

  • Comment 31, posted at 06.03.08 15:45:49 by PaarlBok Reply

  • Sorry for posting this, want to spell on the Guppies! 😀

  • Comment 32, posted at 06.03.08 15:47:41 by PaarlBok Reply

  • well, Villie – you got your wish in one sense. Bismarck is starting

  • Comment 33, posted at 06.03.08 15:51:32 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Bismarck?? Is he REALLY fit this week?

  • Comment 34, posted at 06.03.08 15:51:39 by Villie Reply
    Competition Winner
  • I like that starting 15. And our bench still has players like Burden, Deysel, Beast and Adi that can provide the impact needed.

    Don’t have a problem with Albert starting. He has performed well in recent weeks and Sykes is clearly not back to full form as yet!

  • Comment 35, posted at 06.03.08 15:54:26 by Villie Reply
    Competition Winner
  • ok – so was I right or was I right?

  • Comment 36, posted at 09.03.08 23:33:09 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • ok – so was I right or was I right?

    09.03.08 23:33:09 – robdylan Edit

    No Steyn should have played 12, or are we talking about something else? 😉

  • Comment 37, posted at 10.03.08 06:50:41 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©

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