KSA Shark ©

Sharks won’t be picky

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :In the news, Sharks, Super 14 on 2 Apr 2008 at 13:29

The Sharks have arrived in New Zealand expressing pretty much the same attitude that the Stormers did on their recent tour – they are out to win every game they play.

Speaking to Sharksrugby.co.za, skipper Johann Muller said that while past teams may have targeted specific games that were more important than others, the 2008 vintage were too good a combination to do that.

“We go out there to play well in every game we play in, and if possible, win every game,” said Muller.

“We are too good a side to pick which games we are willing to lose. That wouldn’t be fair to us or to our supporters. We are going to go out there and play as well as possible, and if we can win all five games, that would be fantastic.”

Gavin Rich writes for Superrugby that of course, part of the motivation for that attitude is that this Sharks team has reason to aim a lot higher than some previous South African teams at the start of a tour of New Zealand and Australia. That is because Muller’s men are not aiming to just be competitive, or to sneak into the semi-final bracket, they want to emulate last season’s performance by finishing top of the log, which would book them home ground advantage in a final.

This means some of the matches they play on this tour are a non-negotiable when it comes to whether they can afford to lose – starting with this week’s clash with the Hurricanes in Wellington. The Hurricanes are one of the teams that can upset the Sharks’ plans to finish in the top two, and Muller’s men know that victory, apart from bolstering their own hopes, will also knock the Hurricanes back a peg or two.

It is a similar story with the later clash with the Waratahs, who are mounting a competitive challenge for a semi-final place. The Sharks finish off against the Crusaders, the team tipped to finish top. In some circumstances, the game could be expendable, for instance if the Sharks are so far behind at that point that they cannot pip the Crusaders on the log.

But unless coach Dick Muir suddenly finds he is in a situation where some of his players are in desperate need to rest, the Sharks will be going all out for victory in that game as apart from anything else, they know that the psychology of playing well against the Crusaders will be important in the event of the two teams meeting again in the knock-outs, which is highly possible.

Then there is also the small matter that the Sharks have always been good tourists, and Muir has inculcated the belief in this Sharks team that they have the capability to win anywhere and against any opposition on any given day.

It will be recalled that even in the Kevin Putt era, when the Sharks weren’t as successful as they are now, they came close to knocking over the Crusaders on their own territory, and two years ago the match in Christchurch was a desperately close run thing, with many feeling that the Sharks were robbed of a victory that should have been theirs.

One thing in the Sharks favour is the impressive depth that Muir has built up in most positions during his three seasons in charge and his rotational policy during the first six matches has given most of his players an opportunity to build some confidence in case they are called on once attrition starts to have an effect.


  • and two years ago the match in Christchurch was a desperately close run thing, with many feeling that the Sharks were robbed of a victory that should have been theirs.

    Anyone recall the ref in question? 😆

    The incident was the “lazy runner” forward being offside. Saders kicked at goal and won the match.

  • Comment 1, posted at 02.04.08 13:32:57 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • We lost 22-20. 🙁

    ended the season on 38 points level with the Boels and Brumbies. Would have been 41 had we won.

    But some go for you some go against you. They balance out in the end

  • Comment 2, posted at 02.04.08 13:36:57 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • One of our best tours ever was under Putt in 2004.

  • Comment 3, posted at 02.04.08 13:39:39 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • let me go dig out my match report for that game… should make for interesting reading

  • Comment 4, posted at 02.04.08 13:40:26 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • So WHO was the ref?

    If the Tahs can Say Kaplan is biased against them and the Bulls can say everyone is biased against them then we can say this guy is biased against us?

    Who is he? C’mon people you gotta know?

  • Comment 5, posted at 02.04.08 13:44:40 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • typical… I didn’t do a report for that game. Or, at least, if I did, I didn’t save it.

    I have reports for the Brumbies and Waratahs game on that tour.

  • Comment 6, posted at 02.04.08 13:44:48 by robdylan Reply
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  • Sydney – Dan Carter landed a long-range drop-goal seven minutes from time to hand the Canterbury Crusaders a 22-20 win against South Africa’s Sharks in a Super 14 match at Timaru in New Zealand on Saturday.

    The All Blacks flyhalf kept his cool to kick the winning goal as the Crusaders piled on 16 unanswered points in the last 33 minutes after trailing 20-6 early in the second half.

    The Canterbury wingers Rico Gear and Caleb Ralph each crossed for tries while Carter added a penalty to his two from the first half.

    Springbok fullback Percy Montgomery scored the Sharks’ opening try in the 21st minute when he intercepted a long, cut-out pass from Carter while wing Odwa Ndungane crossed for the second just after halftime.

    The result maintained the Crusaders’ unbeaten start to the season after three rounds while condemning the Sharks to their second straight narrow defeat following a one-point loss to the Central Cheetahs in Durban last weekend.

  • Comment 7, posted at 02.04.08 13:48:55 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • It turns out the match i am thinking of was a completely different game. 😆

  • Comment 8, posted at 02.04.08 13:54:03 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • AH! Found it.

    Bloody alarm. What? It’s Saturday, for God’s sake. Why am I getting up at 6am? Oh, right… thanks brain. Sharks game. I like pleasure spiked with pain, as the song goes. Tiptoe downstairs to avoid waking the sprog. Man, this always reminds me of 94 – waking up at the crack of dawn, twice a week, to watch the Bokke take on New Zealand’s finest, with my dad. Those days are gone, though, long tours being a thing of the past. Still – got a game on this morning.I was expecting the guys to start well and so they did. A courageous performance from the start. I swore when AJ’s hands let him down 7 minutes or so in – a sure try against the champions went a-begging.

    Things kept going better and better, though. The Crusaders were making mistakes – plenty of them – and it was all caused by sustained Sharks pressure. The scrums were rock solid and the lineouts much improved. Tackles were being made and the Crusaders knocked back every time. The contest was tight – locked at 3-all, until Percy pulled a Habana and scored an intercept try. Brilliant anticipation by the veteran fullback, looking perfectly at home in the grey and black.

    By this stage, our much-talked-about off-season signing had already left the field with a buggered knee and all I can really say is “good riddance??. We have more than enough kak flyhalves in South Africa to kick the ball away aimlessly. Not sure why we need to employ a Kiwi has-been to do it for us.

    Anyway – minor rant aside, we turned 7 points up and I was convinced that the writing was on the wall. I mean, we’ve won the first 40 of each game we’ve played this year. It’s winning the second half that counts. The gloom and doom was to be pretty short-lived, though, as my old mate Odwa combined well with my new mate Brad Barrit to score again early in the second half. Hats off to George Ayoub for missing the rebound off BJ. A bad call, but we’ll take it anyway.

    So there we were, then. 20-6 with half an hour or so to play. And then the Crusaders started playing. Hats off to the Sharks for defending manfully, but it was never going to be enough. Firstly, the Saders moved Greg Sommerville to tighthead – which proved an inspired move. He was completely ineffective on the other side, where BJ basically handed him his ass, but at no 3 provided much-needed stability to the scrum. The Sharks also decided to squander what little possession they could manage to achieve in the half by woeful lineout throwing. This was the second game in a row where we gifted the opposition possession and points through being unable to secure our own ball.

    Hats off to the champions, though. They proved that they are a class side by winning a game that they really shouldn’t have. The Sharks can take some pride from the fact that we gave away 55 fewer points than last year. A loss is still a loss, though and it was made even more heartbreaking by the fact that we’d worked so hard to stand a chance of winning the game.

    My assessment of the various players’ performances follow:

    1 – Dean Carstens. Strong in the scrum and a terrier in the loose. Carried the ball up well and always secured possession.

    2 – Skipper Badenhorst. Mr “You can’t tackle on suspicion, Mate??. Did the basics well in the first half – good supportive play as well. Not the answer at this level, though. Lineout throwing was pretty bad.

    3 – BJ Botha. Solid as a rock as always. Showed good positional play leading up to Odwa’s try!

    4 – Johan Muller. Tireless in the tight loose. Discipline let him down a little

    5 – Albert vd Bergh. Played his best all-round game in a long time. Superb in all facets of the game. Seems to have improved his discipline.

    6 – Solly Tyiblika. Finding his form again. Didn’t do much with ball in hand, but was effective at the breakdown and defended superbly.

    7 – AJ Venter. A flawless game, apart from the knock-on with the try line in sight. Umm, yes. That is a bit of a paradox, isn’t it? Still – our best source of lineout possession and played a true captain’s innings

    8 – Jacques Botes (or Yourhann Boots, according to the commentators). Played a good game, but didn’t carry the ball as much as we’ve seen him do. Testament to the great defensive effort put in by the team.

    9 – Ruan Pienaar. Class. The man goes from strength to strength. Set up what should have been a sure try with a scintillating break from his 22. Pity that Brown knob kicked the ball away.

    10 – Tony Brown. Who? Send him back, he’s useless! Looked old, slow, tired and out of his depth at this level.

    11 – Brent Russell. Take a bow, Sir. His best defensive performance ever. Becoming a complete player and (most importantly) one who learns from his mistakes.

    12 – Andries Strauss. I like this kid a lot. He seems to have a mature head on his shoulders and doesn’t panic. Very solid on defense. Haven’t seen much of him on attack yet.

    13 – Waylon Murray. Again, didn’t get much chance to show any skills on attack. Defensively very solid.

    14 – Odwa Ndungane. Wow! Talk about taking criticism on the chin and coming back a better player. I am in awe of the performance that this oke put it in. He was always ok on defense, but on Saturday he didn’t drop a pass or fluff a single high ball. Well done indeed – by far the most improved player.

    15 – Percy Montgomery. Sublime, Perce. You are a king!

    16 – Bismarck du Plessis. Ag no, boetie! Go and learn the basics, and then come and try again. You can’t play hooker at this level if you can’t put the ball into the lineout. End of story.

    17 – Brent Moyle. Ja – kinda like McProp. Ok in the scrums, but doesn’t do much else. I wish Heinke was back.

    18 – Johan Ackermann. Another solid performance by the veteran.

    19 – Daniel Farani. Again, who? This oke has some work to do to convince me that he should be there ahead of Breedt or Gouws.

    20 – Sandile Nxumalo. Didn’t get a chance to show what he can do, as we had no possession while he was on the park.

    21 – Brad Barrit. A youngster with a big future. Good anticipation and brilliant work to set up Odwa’s try. Another youngster who doesn’t panic.

    22 – Carig Burdon. Can’t recall seeing him do anything on the field. Let’s hope he gets more chances as the tour progresses.

  • Comment 9, posted at 02.04.08 13:54:27 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • THe referee was George Ayoub, KSA. Time for your surprised face 😉

  • Comment 10, posted at 02.04.08 13:55:58 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • 😯

  • Comment 11, posted at 02.04.08 14:05:38 by Charlie Reply

  • 22 – Carig Burdon. Can’t recall seeing him do anything on the field. Let’s hope he gets more chances as the tour progresses.

    Still as a wing then I presume?

  • Comment 12, posted at 02.04.08 14:17:06 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • Like the comment on Brent – but then you would expect that from me. 😉

    I watched Craig play 13 as well for the Beeste – he scored 2 tries that night. It was the same night that Henno injured his leg for the second time.

  • Comment 13, posted at 02.04.08 14:18:09 by Nessa Reply

  • yes… you can tell how new these guys were… I hadn’t even learned to spell their names yet!

    Let me go dig up the piece I wrote about Burden back then…

  • Comment 14, posted at 02.04.08 14:24:57 by robdylan Reply
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