Sharks packing too many guns for Loffie’s Lions

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Lions, Original Content, Sharks, Super 14 on 14 Mar 2008 at 07:00

The Sharks travel to Ellis Park this Saturday to take on the Auto & General Lions in round 5 of the Vodacom Super 14 2008. Expect a titanic struggle up front, especially at the breakdown, with the Sharks to ease away later on as their superior pace and skill prove decisive.

Both sides pride themselves on their strength in the scrum and on the drive; Lions loosehead Heinke van der Merwe is a scrumming machine and probably the strongest number 1 anywhere in the competition. Newcomer Ross Geldenhuys has been winning fans playing on the other side of the front row, combining good scrum technique with a surprising turn of pace and a good set of hands. They come up against a Sharks front row including Springbok BJ Botha, seldom bested at this level and livewire Zimbabwean Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira. The Beast is a competent performer in the scrum, but it’s his huge work rate in the loose and on defence that sets him apart. Lions hooker Willie Wepener is looking the part at this level, but he is up against Sharks tyro Bismarck du Plessis this week, a contest he is unlikely to win. The Sharks appear to hold the upper hand in the second row too, with 50-test veteran Albert van den Berg and captain Johann Muller likely to compete well against the less experienced Lions duo of Anton van Zyl and Gerhard Mostert, particularly in the lineouts.

There’ll be points aplenty proved amongst the loose forwards. Joe van Niekerk has seen his crown slip in recent years, while young Ryan Kankowski is the rising star (and Bok incumbent) at number 8. Both will be keen to demonstrate their pace and skill with ball in hand. Sharks flankers Jacques Botes and Keegan Daniel will both play the game at frenetic pace, putting pressure on the Lions halfbacks and trying to force the turnovers. Against them will be the experienced Baywatch Grobbelaar on the ground and the grafter Ernst Joubert, who prefers to play the link-man role.

Rory Kockott and Janno Vermaak are the up-and-coming young scrumhalves in the competition and their personal rivalry should make for a fascinating game within a game. Both sides have opted for direct flyhalves, in Francois Steyn and Jaco van Schalkwyk and the prospect of the resulting feast of running rugby is a mouthwatering one indeed. Let’s hope both sides keep ball in hand as much as possible rather than trying to kick everything they get. The Sharks centres haven’t fired on attack so far this year, yet the Lions will find that the old firm of Brad Barritt and Waylon Murray are rock-solid on defence, particularly with Steyn inside them. Walter Venter is a newcomer at this level, but Jaco Pretorius on his outside is a Springbok and the pair of them are sure to be full of running. They will need their full box of tricks; the Sharks have only conceded 4 tries so far this season, fewer than any other team in the competition. The Lions have let in 14.
The Sharks appear to hold the trump card in the back three, though; Lions wingers Dusty Noble (himself a former Sharks colt) and Rayno Benjamin have looked out of sorts so far this year, whereas their opponents, Odwa Ndungane and JP Pietersen are far more solid, particularly under the high ball. Expect the Sharks to launch an up-and-under or two and see how the Lions pacemen hold their ground with a full complement of Sharks chasers bearing down on them. Pietersen in particular will look to put in a few solid hits on his cousin Noble, all in the name of healthy family rivalry. Stefan Terblanche is the more experienced fullback, with an educated boot that knows how to probe the corners. His opposite number, Louis Ludik, is a star in the making and devastating when joining the line at pace.

Casting an eye over the replacement benches, though, one can clearly see why the Sharks should win this one at a canter. The Lions have a bunch of youngsters and journeymen in numbers 16 through 22. The Sharks, in comparison, have four Springboks in AJ Venter, Jannie du Plessis, Ruan Pienaar and Adi Jacobs, as well as a 50-test French veteran in Fred Michalak. Jean Deysel and Craig Burden complete the quota of impact players that are sure to wrap up the match for the men from Durban.

The Lions will play out of their skins in this one and push the Sharks in the early stages, but the Sharks 22 just looks that much better and they’ll take this one by 10 points or more.


  • judging by what we saw 2 weeks ago at the bullring, there could be more Sharks supporters at this game than lions fans πŸ™‚

  • Comment 1, posted at 14.03.08 07:54:38 by spykerbaard Reply
  • Spyker

    Ain’t that the truth!!!!!!!!!!!!

    How many teams can brag about home games away from home?

  • Comment 2, posted at 14.03.08 07:56:46 by KSA Shark Β© Reply
    KSA Shark Β©
  • Although the Bulls had a “kakhuis” full of supporters at the S14 Final.

  • Comment 3, posted at 14.03.08 07:57:51 by KSA Shark Β© Reply
    KSA Shark Β©
  • ha ha… is that an official collective noun? A kakhius of Bulls supporters… I always thought it was called an ignorance.

  • Comment 4, posted at 14.03.08 08:06:21 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Personally I would have gone for “1400 Bakkie, met spinners, vol” of Bulls as the collective noun. πŸ™„

  • Comment 5, posted at 14.03.08 08:08:53 by KSA Shark Β© Reply

    KSA Shark Β©
  • well, Sharks were just too charitable last year, what with winning that final and then handing it over to the bulls 😯

    2 great collective nouns there KSA and RD

  • Comment 6, posted at 14.03.08 08:14:06 by spykerbaard Reply

  • we try… although it’s probably just because we’re part of a “sour grapevine” of Sharks fans! πŸ˜‰

  • Comment 7, posted at 14.03.08 08:15:27 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • ‘Jean Deysel and Craig Burden complete the quota of impact players that are sure to wrap up the match for the men from Durban.’

    so rob you are saying that burden and deysel are quota players? πŸ˜‰

  • Comment 8, posted at 14.03.08 08:27:39 by try time Reply

  • f*ck off πŸ˜‰ I KNEW you were going to say that!

    You see how an innocent word can become so tainted through connotation?

  • Comment 9, posted at 14.03.08 08:29:50 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • quote from the article above…

    “The Sharks centres haven’t fired on attack so far this year…”

    in relation to the above, blogger ‘genius’ on keo wrote…

    ’10 years ago Ian McIntosh realized that with back lines standing back the attacking fly-half could get over the advantage line just about every time by standing flat and taking a flat pass. It worked like a charm for a while.But the defenders also stand flat now and have stopped that and virtually all creative back line play.
    The answer is for the attacking line to stand back again…’ (edited)

    do you think our backline standing deeper would alleviate the problem of our centres not firing on attack

  • Comment 10, posted at 14.03.08 08:30:55 by spykerbaard Reply

  • I think it starts with getting quicker ball to the centres… but yeah, perhaps standing a bit deeper would help.

    You don’t want to go into Hougaard territory, though

  • Comment 11, posted at 14.03.08 08:32:58 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • de Jongh on the bench! Cool

  • Comment 12, posted at 14.03.08 08:33:56 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • oops – wrong post πŸ˜‰

  • Comment 13, posted at 14.03.08 08:34:19 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • 14.03.08 07:54:38 – spykerbaard

    Nothing new there – usually there are more match officials then fans at Ellis Park anyway!

    14.03.08 08:30:55 – spykerbaard

    Great comment from genius.

    Quite right – the Shars used the flat flyhalf to great effect, but the rush defence and stronger defenders means that a flat running backline wont beat the defenders, especially since EVERYBODY is very powerful nowdays. This is why Barritt and frans are questionable for me – its hard to break a tackle when the defence is expecting you nowdays, unless you run into gaps.

    Add the ELV’s extra freedom to defending players at the breakdown, and a flat flyhalf can be very bad.

  • Comment 14, posted at 14.03.08 08:49:04 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • thanks for the comment BF, i’m pretty sure lining deeper and looking for the gaps could see a big lift in our backplay
    (just what Stormers are doing right now to chiefs)

  • Comment 15, posted at 14.03.08 09:36:11 by spykerbaard Reply

  • A bonus point win is a must

  • Comment 16, posted at 14.03.08 12:31:18 by BigFAN Reply

  • Anybode else going to EPS tomorrow?

  • Comment 17, posted at 14.03.08 16:11:47 by walter van Reply

    walter van Lions World
  • I’ll be there in spirit

  • Comment 18, posted at 14.03.08 16:33:18 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • I don’t see a thread on this but the Wildebeest won tonight. Beat the Griffons 32-7!! 😎

  • Comment 19, posted at 14.03.08 23:21:14 by Villie Reply
    Competition Winner
  • Sounds like a good win. Will put up a report later

  • Comment 20, posted at 14.03.08 23:26:59 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Thanks Rob,

    Didn’t know where to post result…so just put it here coz it is Sharks related.

    Griffons are weak but at least Beeste got bonus point win and that is 2 in a row!!

  • Comment 21, posted at 14.03.08 23:34:02 by Villie Reply
    Competition Winner
  • Yeah. Still a chance to sneak in

  • Comment 22, posted at 14.03.08 23:53:07 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • They really did themselves no favours by losing the first two games

  • Comment 23, posted at 14.03.08 23:55:15 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • I disagree with the Odwa comment….I believe he has been the worst wing thus far this year….
    Although JPP has ben quite he is better than the two Lions wings….

  • Comment 24, posted at 15.03.08 01:49:28 by Hmmm Reply

  • Previous comment:
    been* quiet*

  • Comment 25, posted at 15.03.08 01:50:04 by Hmmm Reply


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