robdylan

Sharks on tour – a preview


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 1 Mar 2011 at 09:05
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

While many are haling the opening half of the Sharks’ overseas tour as somewhere between “easy” and “a mere formality”, they would do well to take a glance at the history books, less any hint of complacency set in. While the record of six wins in a row over the Blues was duly extended to seven at the weekend, it’s the Australian challenge that has historically proved a far greater one for the Sharks.

KSA Shark helped me with some research yesterday and to say that the statistics are shocking is something of an understatement. While it is undoubtedly true that the Western Force and the Rebels are – on paper at least – the two weakest Australian sides in Super Rugby this year, that doesn’t change the fact that the Sharks, since the dawn of the Super 12 back in 1996, have only managed to win a total of four matches in Australia. That’s right – just four wins from 24 starts, or one successful outcome for every six games started. The overall statistic against the Aussies is hardly better, at 22 from 46. It all points to a trend; the Sharks deal with Kiwi sides very well, on average, but have historically always struggled with their nearer neighbours.

Looking ahead to Perth, though, the Durbanites have a better-than-average record, which reads “played two, won one”. The Force are still relative new boys in the competition and their sole win against the Sharks came back in 2007, when they took advantage of an alarming mid-season slump to upset the fancies Sharks, who as we know went on to contest the final that year. The 2009 result aw the Sharks triumph in Western Australia – their first win on Aussie soil in two years – and it is the memory of that result, rather than 2010 which again saw a 0/2 result in Australia, on which they will need to build ahead of Satruday’s match. It’s a little hard to read too much into the match-up at this stage, seeing as the Force are coming off a bye. They were, it’s safe to say, a lot better than expected against the Reds and only a fool would write them off, particularly with the phenomenally talented James O’Connor running the show from flyhalf. The Sharks have the pack to take on any side, anywhere, though and also the defensive game to neutralise O’Connor, along with the rest of the Force backs.

The risks are myriad, though and perhaps the most key is the serious of unfortunate injuries that have robbed the Sharks of a little forward depth ahead of the clash. While the assembled squad has plenty of options at centre, flyhalf and wing (more than can be shoehorned into a match 22, whichever way you try) the injury to Eugene van Staden and the fact that, while waiting for Jean Deysel, we are a loose forward short, means that any further injury to a prop or loosie this week would be something pretty close to catastrophic. Add the fact that we have the often overly-officious Keith Brown as the ref and things suddenly don’t look quite as easy. There’s nothing insurmountable, though and the Sharks simply must be targeting this game for a good away win – hopefully with a bonus point.

Moving on to the Rebels game, there again we have no historical precedent to fall back on, which is probably a good thing! The Waratahs showed that a side who sticks to their guns and their plan can annihilate the competition new-comers and the Sharks would do well to take a leaf out of their book. Deviation from what works and trying to launch into a festival of running rugby without securing the necessary dominance up-front first could well backfire – and last week’s shock win over the Brumbies proved that the Rebels are nobody’s whipping boys and need to be taken as a serious threat. The ref for that game will be Steve Walsh, who seems to have cleaned up his act a lot and will hopefully blow a good game. Walshie’s biggest failing was his tendency to miss the obvious, in my view, but has always come across as a lot less “personal” about the way he blows the game than some of the other Australian officials. We should be fine with him, but again, history should have taught us that once the ref starts blowing against you in Australia the end result is generally an embarrassing loss.

Let’s not get unduly negative, though. Fact is, the Sharks should (and will) be targeting their first game in Melbourne as an absolute must-win and will, I’m sure, consider it a failure if they don’t get five points from the fixture. While there is, of course, plenty that can go wrong over the next two weeks, there is also much to be hopeful about and I for one would consider it absolutely fantastic if the Sharks could, for the first time ever, go through an Australian tour unbeaten and emerge from the other side with nine or maybe even ten logs points from the visit. It’s within their grasp – completely achievable – and I’m sure the team will e focused on doing just that.

There is, of course, arguably a far greater challenge awaiting them across the Tasman, in the form of the Chiefs and the Crusaders thereafter, but we’ll get to that phase of the tour in more detail once it’s a little bit closer to happening. For now, it’s Operation: Australia and I’m backing the black and white to rewrite the history books in 2011.


28 Comments

  • I’m getting goosebumps already…

  • Comment 1, posted at 01.03.11 09:43:02 by Crock Reply
    Crock
     
  • I reckon we can get two wins from two in Australia.

    We might battle a bit in NZ.

    My prediction, 10 points from the tour.

  • Comment 2, posted at 01.03.11 09:46:29 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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    Richard Ferguson
     
  • I’m not too happy with Keith Brown as ref this weekend, we generally struggle with the interpretations of kiwi refs, hopefully the team has been preparing for the ref as well.

  • Comment 3, posted at 01.03.11 09:52:39 by war1 Reply
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    war1
     
  • Will be very happy with 3 wins on tour.

  • Comment 4, posted at 01.03.11 09:58:15 by Ben Reply
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    Ben
     
  • @Ben (Comment 4) : geez – you don’t ask much, do you? πŸ™‚

  • Comment 5, posted at 01.03.11 10:17:09 by robdylan Reply
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    robdylan
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 5) : Maybe 3 wins and a draw against the crusaders. πŸ™‚

  • Comment 6, posted at 01.03.11 10:21:59 by Ben Reply
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    Ben
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 5) : If we play well, we can beat the Force, Rebels, and Chiefs. That being said, there are no easy games in Super rugby and the guys have to perform well to win those games.

  • Comment 7, posted at 01.03.11 10:22:07 by war1 Reply
    Author
    war1
     
  • Force had a close one against the reds, who got a hiding against the `Tahs so maybe the Force isn`t that good, Reds are just average.

    Keith Brown is a worry though.

    Still trying to figure out the Rebels ❓

  • Comment 8, posted at 01.03.11 10:24:05 by Original Champion Reply
    Author
    Original Pierre
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 5) : why not 14 points Rob ,ps what about my superbru sharksworld invite,ive applied already pleeezzze!!!

  • Comment 9, posted at 01.03.11 10:45:47 by ruggabugga Reply

    ruggabugga
     
  • What’s the news on the Crusaders, to which stadium have they moved?

  • Comment 10, posted at 01.03.11 11:11:48 by Ben Reply
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    Ben
     
  • @ruggabugga (Comment 9) : Richard is the pool captain, not me πŸ™‚

  • Comment 11, posted at 01.03.11 11:21:49 by robdylan Reply
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    robdylan
     
  • @Ben (Comment 10) : they’re playing the next two games in Nelson, but they haven’t made any long-term announcements. So we have no idea where we’re going to face them, which adds a lot of uncertainty.

  • Comment 12, posted at 01.03.11 11:22:27 by robdylan Reply
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    robdylan
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 12) : How about a ” neutral venue” like Moses Mashiba Stadium? 😈

  • Comment 13, posted at 01.03.11 11:26:06 by Original Champion Reply
    Author
    Original Pierre
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 12) : Okay thanks.

  • Comment 14, posted at 01.03.11 11:28:29 by Ben Reply
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    Ben
     
  • @Original Champion (Comment 13) : good suggestion πŸ™‚ So long as they don’t move to Sydney, as has been suggested.

    Crap, we couldn’t even beat the Cheetahs in Sydney.

    Although, that would be an interesting game, since the Cheetahs actually can’t beat anyone outside of SA either. Two sides duking it out at a stadium where neither of them can win πŸ™‚

  • Comment 15, posted at 01.03.11 11:33:17 by robdylan Reply
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    robdylan
     
  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 2) : I’m not so sure the Sharks should be going into any game this season targeting the bonus point… all the teams are too close in ability this season, and going in with a mindset of “bonus-point” rugby could backfire. Even the Rebels have shown they can beat the best (or nearly best) on any given day.

    I’m a firm believer in going first for the win, and then based on the circumstances adjusting the mindset during the game to go for the bonus point.

  • Comment 16, posted at 01.03.11 11:44:47 by CS Reply

    CS
     
  • i must say that this statistic’s was a bit of a shock, hope no one at my work reads this, cause i always says that we tour very well. like to see the bulls touring average. the cheathas and lions is easy… non(almost) i still believe that this is our year and expecting the sharks to bring home 15-17 point. this season cant wait for us to come back and the start we have to do it there, and i know the saders are not gonna be easy but if we want to compete coming oktober in the wc, we have to show it now

  • Comment 17, posted at 01.03.11 12:32:12 by franshark Reply
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    Franshark
     
  • @franshark (Comment 17) : Bulls have won 6 times in Aus, from 23 starts. I’m not sure about the Stormers

  • Comment 18, posted at 01.03.11 12:52:28 by robdylan Reply
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    robdylan
     
  • Really interesting stat this. 😯

  • Comment 19, posted at 01.03.11 12:55:50 by McLovin Reply

    McLovin
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 18) : 8 from 22 since 1998.

  • Comment 20, posted at 01.03.11 12:57:47 by McLovin Reply

    McLovin
     
  • @McLovin (Comment 20) : wow – twice as many as the Sharks. Still not a great return, though…

    Man, we’ve been, as a nation, pretty disappointing in Super Rugby over the years, haven’t we?

  • Comment 21, posted at 01.03.11 13:04:55 by robdylan Reply
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    robdylan
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 21) : Oh yes.

  • Comment 22, posted at 01.03.11 13:07:19 by McLovin Reply

    McLovin
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 21) : Saders for instance have won about 50% of their matches in SA over the years.

  • Comment 23, posted at 01.03.11 13:08:38 by McLovin Reply

    McLovin
     
  • @McLovin (Comment 23) : As have the Blues.

  • Comment 24, posted at 01.03.11 13:09:18 by McLovin Reply

    McLovin
     
  • Even Highlanders are around the 45% mark in SA.

  • Comment 25, posted at 01.03.11 13:10:26 by McLovin Reply

    McLovin
     
  • @McLovin (Comment 25) : that is shocking

  • Comment 26, posted at 01.03.11 13:11:21 by robdylan Reply
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    robdylan
     
  • We could very easily either win all 4 games or lose all 4 games..

  • Comment 27, posted at 01.03.11 14:44:50 by bergshark Reply

    bergshark
     
  • Re: force vs sharks- pocock playing ?

  • Comment 28, posted at 01.03.11 14:46:29 by bergshark Reply

    bergshark
     

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