KSA Shark ©

Where the Sharks are stronger

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :In the news, Sharks, Super 14 on 23 May 2008 at 05:14

You don’t have to spend too long studying the latest Sharks team list to figure out where they are much stronger now than they were when they last played the Waratahs in a league match in Sydney last month.

Gavin Rich writes for Superrugby that whereas when they lost 25-10, and were comprehensively outplayed in the second half, the Sharks were still persisting with their small two fetcher flank combination of Jacques Botes and Keegan Daniel.

You can play one of those players in the back row, and they did play together quite effectively against the Blues in Durban earlier in the competition, but generally against a physical forward combination like the Waratahs are, such a make-up tends to come short.

It was if the penny dropped for the Sharks management in that game, for since then the Sharks have persisted with a loose-trio which includes one fetcher on the openside in the form of Botes, and he has been one of the stars of the Sharks resurgence over the past few weeks, and a heavier, tighter forward in either AJ Venter or Jean Deysel on the other flank.

The loose trio has had a better balance to it since the switch, and in Saturday’s Vodacom Super 14 semifinal not only will Venter start, but Deysel and big Tongan Epi Tiaone will back him up and join the fray later in the game. The Sharks see the addition of this bulk as an essential if they are to stop the physical Waratahs pack, particularly their back-row, who dominated last time the teams met.

Not only though is it in the loose-forwards that the Sharks have more bulk this time. Skipper Johann Muller is back to lead the side after he had to sit out the last clash at the last minute because of an ankle injury. The Springbok has made a good recovery since then and will definitely add some of the substance that was missing from the Sharks foward effort last time.

While it is at forward that the Sharks look most obviously stronger, there have also been some key adjustments at the back that could swing this one in their favour. The last time they were in Sydney it was the occasion of Frederic Michalak’s unfortunate injury. The Frenchman was forced out early in the game and later had to abandon his Super 14 adventure.

When Ruan Pienaar came on to replace him it was the first time he had been used as a flyhalf by the Sharks in quite a while. Expecting him to just adjust to the position at such short notice and in such a big game was a big ask.

But it is different now, for Pienaar is settling into the position and is gaining with confidence every week, with many critics feeling that his performance in the pivot position last week was the catalyst for the Sharks’ finest backline performance of the season.

Pienaar’s form has had a positive effect on the other players among the backs too, and while JP Pietersen still hasn’t scored a try this season, he is starting to look sharp again and is bound to be a factor in the playoff games.

The backs are the one area where the Sharks do appear to have a clear edge over a Waratahs team which, when it comes to the back, do tend to rely quite heavily on big Lote Tuqiri and the promising flyhalf Kurtley Beale.

The only change the Sharks have made to the side that hammered the Chiefs last week comes at inside centre, where many would consider Brad Barritt unfortunate to make way for the prodigious but at times unpredictable game-breaking skills of the gifted Francois Steyn. Again, this might be another area where the Sharks look more settled than the last time they played the Waratahs.

Sharks team: Stefan Terblanche, Odwa Ndungane, Adrian Jacobs, Francois Steyn, JP Pietersen, Ruan Pienaar, Rory Kockott, Ryan Kankowski, AJ Venter, Jacques Botes, Johann Muller (captain), Steven Sykes, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawirara.

Reserves: Craig Burden, Deon Carstens, Albert van den Berg, Jean Deysel, Epi Taione, Brad Barritt, Waylon Murray.


  • Agreed. Stronger team this time round for sure. More beef upfront.
    I would try get Jean Deysel on sooner rather than later as AJ is not the enforcer he once was. They have a significant advantage with their homeground and Bryce the Knob in charge. But still you gotta feel we have the better team on paper!

  • Comment 1, posted at 23.05.08 10:07:04 by CapeShark Reply
    The Great Couch Shark
  • I really can’t see any department having things easy tomorrow.
    We require a top drawer performance from EVERYONE !!! The loosies seem to have the bigger challenge but Kockott , Pienaar and Steyn will have to make things happen for us.

    Aw ! Flip…I’m tired of talking…Bring on the Tahs already!

  • Comment 2, posted at 23.05.08 10:08:22 by blackshark N.R.N.S! Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • Deysel can cancel Palau out. He’s a bruiser. Bring him on!

  • Comment 3, posted at 23.05.08 10:29:30 by CapeShark Reply
    The Great Couch Shark
  • No question in my mind that we are also stronger off the bench. We have Carstens on the bench, they have donunt dunning. We have Barrit and they have no backline reserve of that quality.

  • Comment 4, posted at 23.05.08 10:38:37 by yossarian Reply

  • The guys on Down Under last night said that they have felt all season that the Sharks haven’t looked hungry enough – until last week. For the first time they looked like they wanted the S14 trophy.

    On paper we can do it – the guys have to believe it and want it.

  • Comment 5, posted at 23.05.08 10:46:59 by Nessa Reply

  • @yossarian (Comment 4) : Dunning has actually turned himself into a very useful prop. I’d be a lot happier seeing BJ’s name in our squad this week.

  • Comment 6, posted at 23.05.08 10:50:00 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • very good sharks team, the penny has dropped, but good to see they have gone back to their strengths which is their pack, also good to see Piennar at 10, going to be close, i’d also be happier to see BJ.

  • Comment 7, posted at 23.05.08 10:59:03 by cab Reply

  • @robdylan (Sharks Forever!) (Comment 6) : not as bad as he was, but still not in the same class as Carstens 🙂

  • Comment 8, posted at 23.05.08 11:03:28 by yossarian Reply

  • @cab (Comment 7) : I reckon Brad coming on towards the end might actually not be such a bad thing. His cool head will help us through the toughest part of the match

  • Comment 9, posted at 23.05.08 11:03:49 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @yossarian (Comment 8) : Ok, I know it was only against the Chiefs, but shit, Deon played well at tighthead last weekend. The first time in ages I’ve seen him in that position, but damn, he was dominant.

  • Comment 10, posted at 23.05.08 11:04:44 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • 1. Benn Robinson / Beast – Robinson v good in scrums – even
    2. Tatafu Polota-Nau / Bismarck – Sharks
    3. Al Baxter / Jan Dup – Sharks
    4. Dean Mumm / Sykes – Mumm been playing v well, sykes more grunt – even
    5. Dan Vickerman / Muller – even
    6. Rocky Elsom / AJ – big match-up but Elsom in prime – even
    7. Phil Waugh / Botes – As good as Botes is, he’s no Waugh – Tahs
    8. Wycliff Palu – Totally different function to kanko – even

    As a whole what Tahs lack sharks in tight 5 they make up wuth the most physical backrow in comp, as a whole its a very effective pack as is the sharks, the game will be won or last here, it was confidently won a few weeks backs by Tahs, but hopefully Sharks are boulstered.

    9. Luke Burgess/Kockett – Burgess would be my wallaby pick – even
    10. Kurtley Beale/Piennar – beale capable of being sublime and shite -even
    11. Lote Tuqiri/JP – JP dont have Tuquiri’s exp yet – Tuquiri
    12. Tom Carter / Steyn – Carter good, but Steyn better – Steyn.
    13. Rob Horne / Adi – Horne grease lightny, Adi more exp – even
    14. Lachie Turner / Odwa – Turner plenty determination, Odwa v solid – even
    15. Sam Norton-Knight /Terreblance – Both solid fullbacks with dodgy defense – even.

    Pretty even in backs, with Tahs and sharks having talented youth and unsettled combos.

    16. Adam Freier / Burden – Burden more mobile but Freier shades – Tahs
    17. Matt Dunning / Carstens – Dunning underrated, but Carsten shades – Sharks
    18. Will Caldwell / Albert – offers grunt, but albert quick and exp – even
    19. David Lyons / Deysel – exp v youth, both big ball carriers – Tahs
    20. Beau Robinson / Epi – superb openside v big ball carrier – even
    21. Timana Tahu / Murray – wing v centre – sharks
    22. Brett Sheehan / Barrit – scrummie v centre – even

    Benches are pretty evenly balanced, Tahs have a few exp wallabies off their bench combined with some v promising talents, same as Sharks.

    Very evenly matched, home ground might shade it, am hoping the Sharks tight 5 dominate and have more of an effect that the Tahs backrow.

  • Comment 11, posted at 23.05.08 11:27:05 by cab Reply

  • Polotu Nau isn’t playing

  • Comment 12, posted at 23.05.08 11:41:12 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Sharks Forever!) (Comment 12) : oh right, u know their teamsheet?

    Brad is very solid and a good player to have on the bench.

  • Comment 13, posted at 23.05.08 12:04:42 by cab Reply

  • http://www.sharksworld.co.za/2008/05/22/tahs-recall-rookie-horne-for-semi-start/

  • Comment 14, posted at 23.05.08 12:10:33 by robdylan (First Sydney, then the World) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Al Manning is the replacement hooker, with Adam Freier starting. Manning is a guy who has come up through their systems, also played Aus U19 and U21

  • Comment 15, posted at 23.05.08 12:14:10 by yossarian Reply

  • @yossarian (Comment 15) : Al Manning is the guy Bismarck will hurt…

  • Comment 16, posted at 23.05.08 12:41:03 by blackshark - B.O.T.O.B! Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!

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