Pull the other one, Todd

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super 14 on 14 Apr 2009 at 22:46
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Apparently Todd Blackadder reckons that his team will target the Sharks’ supposedly soft midfield this weekend, now that the Cheetahs have shown that that’s the way to win. Is the new Saders coach really stupid enough to reveal his gameplan in the media? Or is this just an elaborate ruse to fox Plumtree and his merry men?

Right now, if I were looking at weaknesses in the Sharks team, I’d target the breakdown, the lineouts, the scrums… ok, hell – the forwards in general. Maybe that’s not really a fair assessment, though, since the Sharks surely cannot be as bad from front to back as they were last week. I guess if they are, then this is a meaningless discussion, since the Crusaders will walk it…

Ok, so then what exactly is it that the Cheetahs did so well? Did they manage to expose some sort of systematic weakness in the Sharks’ midfield defence? I don’t really think they did. As far as I can recall, what they did, over and over, to pretty devastating effect, was set up a two man “mini-maul” two passes out and use that as a way to get across the advantage line while being pretty certain to retain the ball. It’s a pretty nifty trick, since you’re forcing a defender to effectively tackle two men at once. Not only does the momentum at the point of tackle always go your way, you have an automatic fetcher at the point of breakdown, hopefully on his feet and able to secure a further quick phase.

It’s legal, but I’m not really convinced it should be. That’s perhaps a topic for another day, though.

If anything, the Sharks midfield defence stood up pretty well considering what they were up against; I feel if anything, the defence out wide was found napping on at least three occasions.

The real issue – and the real point of weakness that the Crusaders are likely to attack was the breakdown itself. The Sharks lacked commitment, bulk, technique and nous in the forward exchanges and the Cheetahs, through a ridiculously plentiful supply of safe ruck ball, were able to set up phase after quick phase against a tiring and retreating backline defence. The Sharks insistence on gifting possession back to the hosts through a combination of aimless kicking and woeful set-piece execution provided all the fuel that the Cheetahs’ gameplan required.

Silly, really. You can’t attack off the back foot. You can’t attack without the ball. You can’t win the game simply by tackling, because sooner or later you’re going to let one slip. If you’re going to turn defence into attack, you need to start by shifting the momentum at the point of tackle. The Sharks were completely unable to do that all game and also failed to spark anything whatsoever on the few occasions that they actually won something resembling front-foot ball.

So, to get back to the point of this ramble, I don’t for a second believe that Todd Blackadder views the midfield as the key to victory, particularly given the fact that he has lost his main attacking threat in the centres, Afro-king Casey Laulala. No – Big Todd knows that Richie McCaw has a job to do starving the Sharks of ball at the breakdown. That is what his plan will revolve around – that is what the Sharks will need to counter.


  • oops… just realised I have used the term “Merry Men” in two successive posts.

    One-trick pony

  • Comment 1, posted at 14.04.09 22:51:19 by robdylan Reply
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  • I love the way mug-punters are so quick to write off the Sader’s who are dealing with 12 players and a coach having moved on… yet are only a few games off a potential play-off berth…

    He does have a point… Jacobs makes the least amount of tackles at the worst success rate in the team… and Terblanche behind him is not much better…

  • Comment 2, posted at 15.04.09 02:44:11 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • The ’09 Crusaders cannot string 2 passes together without a knock forward. They’ve been winning games because their opponents are still awestruck by the Crusaders name. McCaw will make a big difference but it won’t be enough.

  • Comment 3, posted at 15.04.09 03:31:48 by fyndraai Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @bryce_in_oz (Comment 2) : I disagree with you, I think Terblanche has been very strong on defence, he would be in my Springbok side at the moment, he is good under the high ball and how many one on one tackles has he missed, not too many !! I also think Jacobs has improved his defence, it used to be his downfall but this year, and even last year for the Boks he improved his defence beyond belief so you and I must be watching different games because I think he is far better than he used to be.

  • Comment 4, posted at 15.04.09 06:25:36 by Whindy Reply
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  • @Whindy (Comment 4) :

    I agree. Stefan has been great on defence IMO, I can recall quite a few one on one tackles where I thought we had a problem and Stefan brought the man down saving a try.

  • Comment 5, posted at 15.04.09 06:43:36 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @fyndraai (Comment 3) :

    I’m with you on this one, wrt McCaw but think the Crusaders are a better side than you make it sound. They will still lose though.

  • Comment 6, posted at 15.04.09 06:45:04 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @Whindy (Comment 4) :

    Adi still has the worst tackle stats in the team missing 32% percent… both him and Terblanche would be getting extremely tired by now after 9 consecutive 80mins…

  • Comment 7, posted at 15.04.09 07:23:22 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • @bryce_in_oz (Comment 7) : Bryce, I agree and if I have one criticism of Plum, its been his man management, and that could lead to the Sharks downfall this year, the squad is good but he has not given the guys enough time off(sometimes due to injury, sometimes due to inexpieience in his reserves), he has relied on the same team to do the job for him and it is starting to catch up with him. They looked out on there feet on Saturday. For most of them it was a homecoming they all grew up in Bloem, they should have loved playing there. Just pulling your chain 😆

  • Comment 8, posted at 15.04.09 07:36:01 by Whindy Reply
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  • @Whindy (Comment 8) :

    Well that an PLummo has no plan B for when the opportunities for counter-attacking dry up…

  • Comment 9, posted at 15.04.09 07:39:38 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • @bryce_in_oz (Comment 7) : Did that miss tackles led to a try or any points ❓ 😈

  • Comment 10, posted at 15.04.09 07:52:43 by Charlie Reply

  • @Charlie (Comment 10) : 😯 😯

    You didn’t just say that?!?!?!?!

    So you only have to tackle if you are the last line of defence?

    In other instances there will be someone behind you to tackle and prevent the try being scored so you don’t have to bother tackling? (Now that IS team work 🙁 )

  • Comment 11, posted at 15.04.09 07:56:30 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 11) :

    And who cares about a “meters gained by the opposition” stat?

    As long as a missed tackle doesn’t result in a try all is well? 😯

  • Comment 12, posted at 15.04.09 07:58:12 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 11) : 👿 👿 👿

  • Comment 13, posted at 15.04.09 08:29:51 by Charlie Reply

  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 12) : :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

  • Comment 14, posted at 15.04.09 08:30:11 by Charlie Reply

  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 12) :
    Interestingly enough my sandy friend, how many oppo tries were scored through the midfield?

    I can think of one when the Brumbies ran inside Fransie, but not too many I think.

  • Comment 15, posted at 15.04.09 08:40:38 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Big Fish (Comment 15) :

    Not many at all is the answer to your question.

    My astonishment is not at the midfield but at charlie’s imlication that a missed tackle is only an issue if a try is scored from it.

    I would want ANYONE in my team to have that mindset be it a prop or a wing.

    Your mindset should be to take the opposition back in the tackle not “he got past me but he didn’t score, so no worries”

  • Comment 16, posted at 15.04.09 09:00:38 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @Big Fish (Comment 15) :

    to clarify further. I have no concerns about Jacobs’ defence I think he does it more than well enough, my concern is with Charlie’s comment. 😉

  • Comment 17, posted at 15.04.09 09:03:08 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @bryce_in_oz (Comment 7) :

    Plumtree seems to realise that he may be overpolaying some of his players.

    Plumtree said it was difficult to decide whether the Sharks had been outplayed or whether their mental approach had been the problem, whether it was their poor attitude or a lack of skill which had led to the defeat.

    “If there is an attitude problem, performance will suffer. Collectively, it wasn’t a good effort, and so, yes, attitude could have been the case. But you never know.”

    Plumtree said the team had shown they can win and it was no time to panic.

    “Pressure has come with injury to seven players and we need them back at this crucial time of the season. Some of the other players have been overplayed. This is a fact and not an excuse, but I hope people will back off and give the players some breathing space.”

  • Comment 18, posted at 15.04.09 09:32:14 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • I see it this way. We lost to the 13th & 14th placed teams on the log. The main reason for the losses( among many )IMO is the lack of attack on own initiative. Looking at those two games and see how many mistakes the opposition made….very few and that has been the main attacking weopon of the Sharks.

    @bryce_in_oz (Comment 9) : effectively the lack of plan B when plan A isn’t working anymore

  • Comment 19, posted at 15.04.09 09:45:03 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • I hope people will back off and give the players some breathing space.”


    Gettin edgy there Plummo?

    But yeah – I don’t think the problem was the attitude at all.
    Maybe a bit of altitude, coupled with good old exhaustion.

    @Pokkel (Comment 19) :

    I was more concerned with the fact that even when they did make a few errors – in areas that were good for us to launch an attack, we just fumbled the ball. The opportunities were there…we just didn’t keep or pass the ball well enough to turn them to real threats.

  • Comment 20, posted at 15.04.09 10:03:01 by blackshark - YNWA Reply

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  • @Pokkel (Comment 19) : How about complacency??

  • Comment 21, posted at 15.04.09 10:08:01 by Whindy Reply
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  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 17) : Oubaas, slow down, you might just get a heart attack, just stirring with the Cheetahs wooden spoon… 😈 :mrgreen: 😉

  • Comment 22, posted at 15.04.09 10:08:09 by Charlie Reply

  • @Pokkel (Comment 19) : We need to attack more, limit the kicking, keep ball in hand as much as possible IMO 😉

  • Comment 23, posted at 15.04.09 10:10:27 by Charlie Reply

  • @Charlie (Comment 23) :
    Did we even do that much kicking on Saturday?

    I just thought we sucked in the other aspects…the kicking was probably our better fraction of the game. Scrums, lineouts, handling…were all [email protected]!

  • Comment 24, posted at 15.04.09 10:15:46 by blackshark - YNWA Reply

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  • @blackshark – YNWA (Comment 24) : Overall the Sharks are kicking to much IMO 😉

  • Comment 25, posted at 15.04.09 10:19:42 by Charlie Reply

  • @blackshark – YNWA (Comment 24) : What do you think about Liverpool’s match lastnite ❓ They nearly got out of jail 😥

  • Comment 26, posted at 15.04.09 10:20:59 by Charlie Reply

  • @Charlie (Comment 26) : 😥 😥 😥

  • Comment 27, posted at 15.04.09 10:25:30 by blackshark - YNWA Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @blackshark – YNWA (Comment 27) : Was a decent game to watch.Each team had a turn to play [email protected]

  • Comment 28, posted at 15.04.09 10:27:08 by Claytie Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 1) :

    Is that you Rassie?? 😯

  • Comment 29, posted at 15.04.09 10:29:05 by wpw Reply
  • @Claytie (Comment 28) : 😐 😐 😐

  • Comment 30, posted at 15.04.09 10:30:47 by Charlie Reply

  • @wpw (Comment 29) : Hi Wes :mrgreen:

  • Comment 31, posted at 15.04.09 10:31:55 by Charlie Reply

  • @Charlie (Comment 31) : Bietjie laat geslaap ❓ 😈

  • Comment 32, posted at 15.04.09 10:35:43 by Charlie Reply

  • @wpw (Comment 29) : what a kak week to convert to a Sharks supporter….maybe you should go back to being a Stormers supporter and the Sharks might start playing some decent rugby again? ( no smilies )

  • Comment 33, posted at 15.04.09 10:36:27 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 33) : 😉

  • Comment 34, posted at 15.04.09 10:37:06 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @wpw (Comment 29) : please… Rassie is a ZERO-trick pony 🙂

  • Comment 35, posted at 15.04.09 10:37:48 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Claytie (Comment 28) :
    Agree – it was mostly [email protected] defending as opposed to great attacking…

    I think Messi, E’to and Henry will be drooling when they watch this one.

  • Comment 36, posted at 15.04.09 11:12:02 by blackshark - YNWA Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @Charlie (Comment 31) :

    Hey Charles!!! 😎

  • Comment 37, posted at 15.04.09 11:14:22 by wpw Reply
  • @blackshark – YNWA (Comment 36) :

    Plus Slippy Slide is in for a tough game against that trio.

    I hope Barca smash Chelski in the semis. 👿

  • Comment 38, posted at 15.04.09 11:17:26 by wpw Reply
  • @Charlie (Comment 10) :

    A miss tackle is a miss tackle mate… don’t worry… Kanko has equally as bad stats to the tee…

    Not a witch hunt but since you asked… here are the Red’s stats for Adi…

    6 tackles… 2 missed… 2 tries…

  • Comment 39, posted at 15.04.09 11:21:02 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • @Pokkel (Comment 19) :

    Yes that’s exactly what I’m ‘getting at’…

    Plummo has simply improved the same ‘Sharks counter-attack style’ we had under Muir… with no ‘plan B’ when turnover ball is not forthcoming…

  • Comment 40, posted at 15.04.09 11:23:00 by bryce_in_oz Reply


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