Hertford Highlander

Sharksworld casts a ‘London Eye’ over the Crusaders

Written by Gwyn Pratley (Hertford Highlander)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 19 Mar 2011 at 14:07
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With Sharksworld steadily spreading its media accreditation around the world, we were able to get up close and personal with the Sharks next opponent, the homeless roaming Crusaders at Carisbrook this evening.

Tonight at Carisbrook we witnessed a glorious late summer evening and the Crusaders rugby lived up to the occasion. Carisbrook welcomed in more than 20,700 spectators making it the biggest non-test crowd in more than 5 years at the ‘House of Pain’. In May 2005, 22,000 watched the Crusaders beat the Highlanders 27-13, while in February 2006 a crowd of 17,500 watched the Highlanders beat the Blues 25-13. The crowd was swelled tonight by visitors from Christchurch as speculation is rife that the ‘Garden City’ will be potentially hit with another huge earthquake this weekend. With this lingering thought in the minds of Cantabrians many Crusaders supporters have flooded south to Dunedin and while here took the opportunity to support their favourite sons.

As the teams warmed up, went through their pre match preparations, then went about their work in a classic southern rugby confrontation, you couldn’t help but spare a thought for the Crusaders as they continue to play all of their Super matches away from their earthquake ravaged city.

A 9th minute first half try to Robbie Fruean was the only touchdown of the first interval in a half that was punctuated with 6 missed shots at goal (Brown (4) and Carter (2)). However there were two successful Tony Brown penalty goals that were mirrored by Daniel Carter who also added the conversion to accompany the Fruean try. Halftime 6-10 Crusaders. It didn’t exactly take long after the break for the super power of New Zealand rugby to take the match by the scruff of its neck and the jaded, jet lagged Highlanders just couldn’t live with the resurgent Crusaders. The Crusaders scored what would have been 31 unanswered points in the second half had it not been for an Adam Thomson try on the hooter for the home side. Final score Highlanders 13-44 Crusaders.

So what do the Sharks need to be aware of and prepared for from the Crusaders next weekend at Rugby HQ.

The first thing will be the absolute necessity for the Sharks to take any points on offer. Kicking will be crucial but with Pat Lambie the highest point scorer in the competition in fantastic form with the boot, this should not be a problem and will put in place an important building block for a Sharks win.

So how do the Crusaders play.

Well they constantly put plenty of width on their attack, it however is not ‘helter skelter’ all-out attack, it’s composed and under Carter there is time and direction. Hard men like the Whitelock and the Franks brothers’ take turns to stand out wide and subsequently they force you to defend the entire width of the field for the entire match. It is clear that all the forwards are comfortable being backs and there is real interchange from the All Black laden pack between primary roles and glory backline duties on attack. Tonight skipper Read was superb and he was ably supported by star fly half Carter in running a very composed ship on attack. To be frank they ooze composure and are rarely rattled. However if the Sharks are Crusader like themselves and are able to rattled the ‘Red ‘n Blacks’ they do react. It is clear that the Saders do give away penalties (they gave away 9 penalties in the first half alone tonight one being a cynical Yellow Card from All Black lock Sam Whitelock) and seem almost in structured to do it because they are so rarely in that situation and under pressure.

They also under Carter are forced to play the game on the gain line. Carter continually pushes them out of their slumber and it gives them an unwitting edge on attack – but with this approach comes mistakes and turnovers. Tonight numerous players did drop the ball on more than one occasion. It is here that the Sharks must make hay. Turnover ball must not be kicked or given back easily, they must look to grow an extra leg on turn over ball and attack as directly and as fluently as they can possession is key all match, but turnover possession is point scoring gold and the Sharks must score with it.

Set piece-wise there will not be much between the sides. However tonight Ben Franks had a stormer on the loose-head side of the scrum and nullifying him will be a step in the right direction. Tonight the Crusaders scrum absolutely demolished the Highlanders and is a point of attacking strength that the Sharks match day selections need to reflect.

A huge forward effort may again be just what is required in order to tip up the Crusaders. Bashing them into submission up front may again be the Sharks best form of attack forcing more than just the occasional Franks’ brother and Corey Flynn to commit to defensive rucks and mauls. They split their defence much like an NRL side and are not hurried in their work off the ball and very much like the Sharks they are methodical and disciplined in their defensive organisation and patterns. The Sharks are well capable of footing it with the Crusaders in the set pieces and tight exchanges.

Now for the bad news and a week-long head ache going into next weekend. It lies in the twin midfield threat posed by Robbie Fruean and Sonny Bill Williams. They are without doubt the most potent mid field attack on the planet. SBW is sublime and as Todd Blackadder said post match he has made huge strides in the game in a very short time. Tonight he was flat in attack, fleet of foot, effected turnovers, cleared rucks, and made conventional tackles as well as big hits. Tonight it was again what we have come to expect, signature Sonny Bill with sublime off loads and passes that just looked impossible to defend against. He constantly looks capable of blowing the opposition mid field defence wide open. He is a growing talent that is moving in the right direction.

The trouble however does not stop there, in Robbie Fruean; Sharks fans will get the chance to see arguably the best player in world rugby at the moment. Fruean is an absolute beast of a man. A human wrecking ball on attack with raw power and pace that basically rips sides and games wide open. He is direct and loves contact. He attracts reluctant defenders from all over the park opening opportunities up for his back three who run off him. The likes of Maitland, Dagg and Guildford are the luckiest back three in world rugby.

So when all is said and done, Plum will quickly realise that there is not much between the sides on paper. However then he will match up head to head the centre combinations and to be honest it will take a man of John Plumtree’s astuteness and Stefan Terblanche’s experience to formulate a game plan and approach that will be able to quell the edge SBW and Fruean will give the Crusaders next weekend in the northern hemisphere.

Good luck Sharks enjoy the London experience from what I hear, the Crusaders are really looking forward to the challenge and are very focussed on the job ahead and the points on offer.


  • A very interesting and informative article 🙂 Can we not treat SBW as the Boks did J Lomu or will that just cause more problems elsewhere ? GO SHARKS :mrgreen:

  • Comment 1, posted at 19.03.11 14:19:26 by SharkyTaylor Reply
  • HH, this was flipping awesome mate! Glad to see you putting that pass to such good use.

  • Comment 2, posted at 19.03.11 14:35:44 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 2) :

    Cheers Rob….. had a wicked evening ! 😎

  • Comment 3, posted at 19.03.11 14:40:00 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • @Hertford Highlander (Comment 3) : Know what you mean.

  • Comment 4, posted at 19.03.11 14:46:57 by Ben Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 2) : 3ob don’t you want to put up a golden lions vs sharks XV thread? I’ll do the updates.

  • Comment 5, posted at 19.03.11 14:48:19 by Ben Reply
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  • Guys..starve the ball and we can beat them..we were starved against the chiefs n we lost..the crusaders want to play with the ball..but with no ball they can’t really play..wish deysel was ready for a game like this..him and alberts would be great to move the game forward..but I believe the guys learnt their lession..they will be fresh n prepared for the crusaders..

  • Comment 6, posted at 19.03.11 18:10:05 by shaniboi Reply

  • @shaniboi (Comment 6) : It will be hard ,they have great forwards ,it may just back fire .One thing is for certain their backline are skillfull and big, their forwards are the same! I think we should target the breakdown with greater intensity -we can trust in the fact that their forwards will look to offload and run onto offloads rather than cleaning out ,for me their persistance with “continuity” may be a weakness -we should try counter ruck turnovers

  • Comment 7, posted at 19.03.11 19:48:06 by Talent Reply
  • it also a big occasion game ,guys should be fired up ! The sharks recently have started responding well to these situations

  • Comment 8, posted at 19.03.11 19:55:19 by Talent Reply
  • GO SHARKS !!! :mrgreen:

  • Comment 9, posted at 19.03.11 20:03:00 by Charlie Reply

  • Think we may come out tops..they say the home crowd playt the difference..the sharks have a lot more support in england…might tip in their favour

  • Comment 10, posted at 19.03.11 20:06:52 by shaniboi Reply

  • It’s going to be a really tough game, especially because I think there is going to be a tendency, albeit subconsciously, to feel sorry for the Saders because of what has happened in Christchurch. So I am eternally grateful that the match is being played on “neutral” turf. I do think the Saders can be beaten, but we really need to rise to the occasion and pull out all of the stops and the kind of performance that won us the Currie Cup to do it.
    Composure and discipline are paramount… as for the rest – we have the skills and talent in heaps, we just need to divorce ourselves from the emotion of it all and not be afraid of beating a team that the world feels empathy and sympathy for.

  • Comment 11, posted at 19.03.11 21:33:56 by SharonvanWyk Reply
  • The Sharks need to up their game…
    HH incredible article sir, well played.

  • Comment 12, posted at 20.03.11 10:05:42 by DarkDestroyer Reply

  • The Sharks must start with Beast, Bissie, Jannie combo – John Smit on the bench and give a gamebreaker like Burden a chance with the ball – maybe draft him in @ looseforward to keep Bissie on the park… Our midfield must contain, and our momentum must come from the forwards, we haven’t played our signature game yet, lets trust it happens this weekend in Twickers… SHARKS!

  • Comment 13, posted at 20.03.11 10:13:14 by DarkDestroyer Reply

  • Why are we 4th on the overall log when we should be 2nd? Please explain – we have 19 points? Thats why it is an overall log?

  • Comment 14, posted at 20.03.11 10:21:47 by DarkDestroyer Reply

  • @DarkDestroyer (Comment 12) : 😉

  • Comment 15, posted at 20.03.11 10:44:45 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • @DarkDestroyer (Comment 14) :

    The first placed side in each Conference qualify automatically in the top three spots regardless of their respective points. Then the next three teams qualify according to the amount of points they have ! 😎

  • Comment 16, posted at 20.03.11 10:47:41 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • @Hertford Highlander (Comment 16) : Indeed, I actually knew that – as said in an earlier article – Emotion is not rational – thought someone had done the dirty on us! 😆

  • Comment 17, posted at 20.03.11 11:04:00 by DarkDestroyer Reply

  • @DarkDestroyer (Comment 17) : 😆

  • Comment 18, posted at 20.03.11 11:21:28 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • Been thinking long and hard about how to stop SBW and Freun. SBW has a crap long pass and passes when he is not given a one on one opportunity…so simply get numbers in front of him. Because of his poor long pass, a banana defence would also stop Fruen from getting any time on the ball. Protecting our ball and playing in their half will be key…if we don’t play territory well we gonna struggle to not give away cheap points through soft penalties.

    I really believe Keegan should go to 8 and Botes at 6; with Kanko coming off the bench; because we need to be quick to the breakdown on our ball and also get numbers in front of carter and SBW; this will force some deep passes which will play into the hands of a banana/rush defence. Discipline is also going to be a huge factor. Main thing for me is ball retention, play in their half and organised rush defence with Charl putting pressure on Carter. Go Sharks, we need this win, will be a huge step for us mentally when it comes to knockout time.

  • Comment 19, posted at 20.03.11 12:03:14 by JJR Reply
  • Great write-up HH!

    Gonna be a toughie. My gut feel is that they are very close to matching us in the forwards, while having those 2 monsters playing off Carter is gonna probably kill us – our midfield do not have the firepower on attack to test them, or the pace and strength on defence to nullify them.

    I hope I am wrong, but I feel the lack of game-breakers in our back-line is going to cost us. We will need to kick well and play the fringes well if we are gonna beat these lads.

  • Comment 20, posted at 20.03.11 12:49:20 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Big Fish (Comment 20) : Stef and Bosman are gonna have to show some Currie Cup commitment we saw against Bulls and WP…i am sure they will stand up to the challenge. Also i think freun and SBW are very dodgy when their forwards are on the back foot. We need our beast and dups combo back for this game. I believe we will be prepared for this game as best as we possible can; so hoping Sharks can get the win.

  • Comment 21, posted at 20.03.11 12:56:17 by JJR Reply
  • @JJR (Comment 19) : try all the ‘banana’ boy defence tricks you like, bosman & terblanche are going to be facing up to a deluge of power & pace. Oupa’s going to need help dealing with that swashbuckling Fruean for damn sure.

    That said, if the Sharks keep the ball at close quarters and power through with their forwards they’ll make in roads on the Saders defence. If they allow the game to open up, carter’s going to carve them up like guppy haul on a chinese trawler! 😀

  • Comment 22, posted at 20.03.11 13:04:49 by Megatron Reply

  • Sharks should have been in London and not back home. Saders are there already. Only takes 3 days to get over the jetlag. By Wednesdy both teams will be over the jetlag, only difference is Saders won’t have to travel again, they there and we will have to get on another flight to London on Thursday. Crazy. We should be training those conditions not the heat and humidity.

    Anyhow agree with Big Fish, our centre pairing is the problem. We have to be on top of our game. HAVE to get the lineouts working again. Defence must be tops and most of all our discipline must be 100% can’t afford to give them anything.

    This is gonna be a tough one. Just have to hope we can do it. Saders just look like they way ahead of all teams at the moment.

    Also the same ref that reffed us against Chiefs. With two kiwi assistants. Wish for this game we had neutral refs.

    Think our players must rest more than train this week. We gonna need it. Also have to face Stormers when we get back. Very tough few weeks coming up for our Sharks. Our bye only comes in the 9th week. Hope no injuries by then either.

    Good luck Sharks. Make us proud. 😎

  • Comment 23, posted at 20.03.11 14:06:10 by Puma Reply

  • Read in the papers today that the tickets to the Twickers game is selling really fast. If need be they might add another 5000 tickets. Making it a 60 000 seater.

    Hope they fill it.

    If this is correct have no idea. In the papers today.

    There are 900 000 saffas 600 000 Aussies and 250 000 kiwis all living in London. With that amount of us from sh living there. Would love to have a Bok/AB game at Twickers one day. Also they said this SuperRugby game if it is a success might lead to a trend for more to be played there.

  • Comment 24, posted at 20.03.11 14:23:38 by Puma Reply

  • @Megatron (Comment 22) : I won’t be surprised if SBW and Freun have an off day…it is all got to do with pressure and i am confident The Sharks are going to put pressure on the Crusaders…Keegan and Charl are going to be all over their halfbacks…SBW and Freun won’t get the crisp service they want.

  • Comment 25, posted at 20.03.11 14:34:07 by JJR Reply
  • But, i do agree, our centre pairing is gonna have lotrs of work to do. Sharks need to Start grooming some new young/experienced centre combo in the Currie Cup…i would like 12-P.Jordaan and 13.Adi Jacobs…Sharks always play their best rugby when they have a dominant pack where a guy like Deysel and Alberts is key and a centre combo that can break the first line of defence.

  • Comment 26, posted at 20.03.11 14:37:58 by JJR Reply
  • @JJR (Comment 26) : We would all like to see an up and coming centre pairing.. but adi, stef, marius and meyer are going to play a prominant role in the currie cup..

  • Comment 27, posted at 20.03.11 15:43:42 by mikey Reply

  • @mikey (Comment 27) : Ja, i know, we go conservative most of the time. I like Bosman and Adi, would just like to see a couple of youngsters in the mix too. Stef and Joubert???? Don’t know what we gain from them in the long term. Stef is a class Fullback, not 13. Joubert…no words really. Our youngsters that are targeted as our future starting centres are still very young…maybe that is why Joubert and Stef will be involved for the next 2 years or so.

  • Comment 28, posted at 20.03.11 16:18:10 by JJR Reply
  • We need Paul Jordaan in the setup now!!!

  • Comment 29, posted at 20.03.11 17:27:47 by BoerSeun Reply

  • @Puma (Comment 23) : it’s not true that the Crusaders are already in London. The first group only leaves this afternoon. The whole squad won’t be here until Tuesday evening.

  • Comment 30, posted at 20.03.11 17:28:22 by robdylan Reply
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  • We need to keep our game structured upfront…we really can’t look to the opposition to run at our defenses like the chiefs…just kicking away possession and letting them have a go will not work…we need to stay very calm make the hard yards and then let rip…with our backs…wish we had a line breaker firing each week…jean de villiers and fourie was inspirational..if they were at the sharks…jiSsssssss what a team!!!

  • Comment 31, posted at 20.03.11 17:35:14 by BoerSeun Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 30) : Howzit Rob,

    Just going by what I read in Greenaway’s article today. He says Saders will prepare for their game against Sharks in London. While we will be in Durbs training. So assumed Saders will arrive today in London.

    Anyhow excited for this game. But feel nervous for our Sharks. Saders are playing outstanding rugby at the moment. We need to cut down on our mistakes. Even if we pick up one point I will be happy. Just hope no injuries and we can get over the travel quick the following week for our game against Stormers.

  • Comment 32, posted at 20.03.11 19:21:28 by Puma Reply

  • @BoerSeun (Comment 29) : Me too, but unlikely. Think a Bosman, Adi combo can work for us and Stef either starting at 15 or in the number 22 jumper. Adi and Bosman will work well together…Stef kinda stops any momentum we gain from Bosman’s slick service. Stef slows down and has to check before he passes, plus he is not running straight enough. I respect the work he has done for The Sharks, but 13 is not his number…i still think he is better than Ludik at 15 for a Crusaders game; just because he takes better options than Ludik does from the back. Ludik still needs to develop his dicision making skills.

  • Comment 33, posted at 20.03.11 20:35:02 by JJR Reply
  • @BoerSeun (Comment 29) : I really hope you are joking. Here is a guy who has not played any senior 15 man rugby and is barely out of school, on top of that he is not the biggest centre around either and now you want to throw him into the deep end against the Crusaders? I am as excited about Jordaan as anyone but it would be counterproductive to put him into Superrugby now. He is in good hands with Paul Treu and Bok sevens is a fantastic opportunity for him.

  • Comment 34, posted at 20.03.11 21:04:25 by war1 Reply
  • @war1 (Comment 34) : I think he was joking…at best Jordaan can be used maybe off the Bench in this years CC. Like u said he still needs senior rugby experience and still needs a few more Kg before he is ready for Sharks rugby. Agree, Sevens is really developing many of his skills. But i can see him in The Sharks superrugby 22 as early as next year if things go his way. He seems to be a guy that develops and learns quickly; physically and in terms of his game. Also remember James o’connor was only like 82 kg when he was causing problems for other teams from 12, when he was still in school. End of the year Jordaan should be at least around 92kg.

  • Comment 35, posted at 20.03.11 21:37:49 by JJR Reply
  • @JJR (Comment 35) : Size is more than kilograms, Jordaan is 1.80 M tall, he will never be a midfield monster, but his game is based around pace, acceleration and guile which suits his build.

  • Comment 36, posted at 20.03.11 21:54:33 by war1 Reply
  • This is gonna be a tough, but great game, me thinks!

  • Comment 37, posted at 21.03.11 14:29:40 by Ice Reply
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  • @Big Fish (Comment 20) :

    Cheers Big Fish.

    Really looking forward to the game. With it being played early Monday morning …..it could be a slow start to the working week come work Monday morning ! 😀

  • Comment 38, posted at 22.03.11 05:18:32 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • @war1 (Comment 36) : I hope his pace can help when a SBW, Umaga or Fruean is running at him.

  • Comment 39, posted at 22.03.11 07:26:01 by KSA Shark © Reply

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