robdylan

Taking stock


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 6 Jun 2011 at 10:50
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The Sharks prevailed in a helter-skelter contest against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday, moving back into the play-off reckoning as a result. Let’s take a sober look at how things stand for the side with two rounds of Super Rugby remaining before the knock-outs.

On the surface, the situation looks relatively good for the men from Durban. They face a tricky away encounter against the Lions this weekend, but should they prevail there, the chances of finishing no worse than sixth look very good. In fact, if the Waratahs drop points again in round 17, the Sharks might find themselves not having to try too hard against the Bulls at Loftus in a fortnight’s time. There’s work to be done, for sure, but it looks like 2011 will go down as a definite improvement on last year’s woeful 9th-place finish in the Super 14.

The game against the Cheetahs was, to be blunt, bloody awful, with the Sharks fortunate to escape with four log points after doing their best to lose for most of the game. A little bit of individual brilliance from a few players, couples with the benefit of some rather bizarre interpretations from referee Marius Jonker saw them burgle a result and those looking for positives will take much heart from the win eked out under such trying circumstances. The team, in short, showed great character to come from behind and win the game, despite never hitting their straps.

Further encouragement stems from the fact that the Sharks squad, though depleted through injury to an extent, still looks in far better relative shape than many of their competitors as the extra-long Super Rugby season starts to take its toll. With only Conrad Hoffmann and Odwa Ndungane likely to be out come play-off time, the Sharks are about as close to full strength as anyone. Some players, though, have been played into the ground and while the bodies might not look too bad at the moment, you get the feeling some of the minds are already shot.

The harsh reality, if one looks at the last few games, is that the Sharks are not going to progress past the first knock-out game based on the way they’re currently playing, though. Guts and individualism might sneak a win in Bloemfontein, but you need a solid team with a top game-plan, executed to perfection, to win in Christchurch or Brisbane. The Sharks of late look unable to execute so much as a simple lineout drive and with a lacklustre tight five, appallingly off-form scrumhalf and pedestrian centres, it’s little wonder that the superb wings – two of the best finishers in the game – are forced to live off scraps and turnovers.

Let’s be blunt here. The only reason the Sharks are still in this is because Mvovo, Jacobs and Pietersen know how to score long-range tries off turnover ball. That and Pat Lambie’s top goal-kicking are the only factors keeping the Sharks in the play-off race, but those alone will not be enough to prevail against the best sides in the competition.

The Sharks need to sort out some fundamental issues – and fast. They must balance the need to rest players like Alberts, Ludik, du Plessis, McLeod and Sykes with the imperative of rock-solid set pieces, improved breakdown performance, better first-up defence and some direction and flair in midfield. Above all, they need to relight the fires and pull together as a team, united in a common goal as they were in the Currie Cup, because as mentioned already, there’s simply no way for individuals to win this trophy.

Time is very short now, though and I guess the next few weeks will show whether the Sharks are genuine title contenders this year, or simply content to live with another season that, while still an improvement on last year, is nevertheless still far short of what this team should be delivering, based on the talent available.


62 Comments

  • I hope they read this…

  • Comment 1, posted at 06.06.11 10:55:28 by Ice Reply
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  • Absolutely. To be brutally honest, the Sharks have only played about 100 minutes of decent rugby this whole season. Its worked against the weaker teams, but its no coincidence the Sharks have only once this season beaten a team higher than them on the log (the Blues were lower when the Sharks beat them in round 2) and have lost to 4 of the other 5 teams in the top six, badly.

  • Comment 2, posted at 06.06.11 11:05:37 by Pablo Dinero Reply

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  • @Ice (Comment 1) : Yes, it always amazes me how the teams and coaches can’t seem to realize what the fans do. It is glaringly obvious what we need to fix, yet the same problems persist week in and out.

  • Comment 3, posted at 06.06.11 11:24:41 by King Shark - Kanko at 12! Reply
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  • Good one Rob.

    Saturday’s performance was enough (barely) to beat the Cheetahs, but won’t be enough against any of the top teams.

    Great heart to sneak the win, but we need to find another gear now.

  • Comment 4, posted at 06.06.11 11:32:07 by Big Fish Reply
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  • Put Michalak at 12 and Adi at 13 and our pedestrian centre problem is solved.

  • Comment 5, posted at 06.06.11 11:49:24 by rhineshark Reply
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  • @rhineshark (Comment 5) : tempted to agree…

  • Comment 6, posted at 06.06.11 11:52:17 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 6) : Defense would worry me, though…

  • Comment 7, posted at 06.06.11 11:56:33 by rhineshark Reply
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  • @rhineshark (Comment 7) : As opposed to the rock solid stuff we have enjoyed all season?

  • Comment 8, posted at 06.06.11 11:57:47 by Pablo Dinero Reply

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  • @Pablo Dinero (Comment 8) : Never noticed… ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Comment 9, posted at 06.06.11 12:03:02 by rhineshark Reply
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  • @Pablo Dinero (Comment 8) : fair point ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Comment 10, posted at 06.06.11 12:04:23 by robdylan Reply
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  • Although to give credit where its due, Bosman did have his best game this year. It will take quite a lot more of that to convince me that the Sharks shouldnt have left him chained to the lockers in Bloem and kidnapped Robert Ebersohn, but it is a start.

  • Comment 11, posted at 06.06.11 12:06:26 by Pablo Dinero Reply

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  • @Pablo Dinero (Comment 11) : they tried… he didn’t want to come

  • Comment 12, posted at 06.06.11 12:17:04 by robdylan Reply
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  • Hi all,

    Thanks Rob another great one

    don’t want to say i’ve got about 10 gray hairs just because of the game sat it was the worst game well i don’t think worst is about the right word sleepy game that nearlly cost us to get back in the play offs i just hope that the team reads some of the comments and start to do sth about the game they played if we do this sort of game play against the Lions and won’t even speak about the mighty Bulls than i’ve got no hope of even trying to get to the semi’s

    come on team you have what i say great supporters that stand by the team with everything they have lets win this we can we have faith so its by time the team starts having faith in what they get paid to do it’s

    Black and White nothing else matters :mrgreen:

  • Comment 13, posted at 06.06.11 12:45:31 by chaz Reply

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  • Harsh but true Rob but we may yet be amazed in a week or two. All the sides are looking a little worse for wear at the moment. Maybe a side who know how to win ugly will take eventually take this year’s S15.

  • Comment 14, posted at 06.06.11 12:49:35 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 12) : If at first you dont succeed…

  • Comment 15, posted at 06.06.11 12:53:25 by Pablo Dinero Reply

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  • Bosman played really good…but he is not consistant so the Sharks team as a whole…nearing the play-off’s now, where consistancy really matters ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Comment 16, posted at 06.06.11 12:54:06 by Charlie Reply

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  • Just what is it with the Sharks? Over the last decade or so we’ve had teams capable of producing champagne rugby, but without the requisite mental toughness/character to win when it matters, or to come from behind, or to hold out when well in front.

    Now we have a team capable displaying the necessary grit, only to have lost the ability to actually consistently play with any degree of skill or conviction.

    Being a Sharks fan means never having to wonder what bipolar disorder feels like… ๐Ÿ™„

  • Comment 17, posted at 06.06.11 12:59:20 by Culling Song Reply
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  • @Culling Song (Comment 17) :
    totally agree with you we can and have done wonders in the last decade but only in the CC we came close once and it was robbed from us from there onwards it just as if we can’t seem to get back from that we are so close but yet sofar away ๐Ÿ™
    we arn’t doing enogh to win the S 15 at all

  • Comment 18, posted at 06.06.11 13:03:42 by chaz Reply

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  • Rob.

    One of your best and most honest articles yet. Congrats!!

    I agree fully with the article!

    It still amazes me that we are 5th on the log but we are going to have to make a huge step up from here if we want to be considered serious contenders.

    Having said that a lot of the other top teams didn’t look great on the weekend either. This competition is just too long.

  • Comment 19, posted at 06.06.11 13:20:25 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 19) : We’re playing the Bulls next week you know.

  • Comment 20, posted at 06.06.11 13:40:15 by klempie Reply

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  • @klempie (Comment 20) : Ja, hoekom?

  • Comment 21, posted at 06.06.11 14:08:50 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 21) : I’m also not sure where the klampmeister is going with this one

  • Comment 22, posted at 06.06.11 14:10:42 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 22) : Loftus??? :mrgreen:

  • Comment 23, posted at 06.06.11 14:11:49 by Ice Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 21) : @robdylan (Comment 22) : I’m looking for more royalties. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

  • Comment 24, posted at 06.06.11 14:14:20 by klempie Reply

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  • @klempie (Comment 24) :

    It would seem that I can’t afford you!!!! :mrgreen:

    Anycase the way the Sharks are playing I can’t exactly give a big ‘up yours’ to the Bulls. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Comment 25, posted at 06.06.11 14:26:19 by Pokkel Reply
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  • I’ve decided to just post my thought on this thread, tangential though they may be, as the other threads seem to have ground to a halt.

    So anyways, the itch begging to be scratched at this point pertains to the argument of Adi Jacobs best being suited to an impact role, an idea which in my not so humble opinion needs to slink off into a hole and die a lonely death somewhere.

    For the record, I am actually not unconvinced by the argument that Adi has made the biggest impact when brought on against tiring defences. In fact, I am all in favour of the intelligent use of explosive players off the bench, and Adi certainly fits the mould.

    The point all those clamoring for Adi to only be brought on when the game has opened up is missing is that their arguments hinge on the presupposition that you have a starting 13 who can do the job for 50 – 60 minutes. Aye, there’s the rub!

    I think there would be very few voices of dissent out there if I were to say that Stefan Terblanche just does not cut the mustard at outside centre at the moment.

    I don’t want to hate on Stef; he’s been a loyal and valuable servant of Sharks rugby, and I still think he’s a good player, just not at 13.

    It is my understanding that as far as backline positions are concerned, wing and fullback is reasonably interchangeable, with only minor adjustments required. Ditto flyhalf/inside centre. 9 and 13 though are specialist positions requiring specific skills and attributes, something which a guy who has spent 15 years playing wing and fullback might battle to assimilate.

    So then, logically, Adi has to start.

    Oh yes, and Michalak at 9; Charl’s standard of play writes the thesis on my behalf.

  • Comment 26, posted at 06.06.11 14:38:44 by Culling Song Reply
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  • Alberts definately needs a rest. As do McLeod, Bissie, Sykes, and maybe even Stefan and why not do it this weekend, because we have the replacements. Try to give those guys a rest for the full 80.

    Start Cronje/Fred, John, Mostert/Bresler and Adi!

  • Comment 27, posted at 06.06.11 14:40:11 by Letgo Reply
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  • @rhineshark (Comment 5) : I don’t think Fred and Adi would make a good combo.

  • Comment 28, posted at 06.06.11 14:50:44 by Letgo Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 28) : Why not?

  • Comment 29, posted at 06.06.11 14:57:16 by Ben Reply
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  • I feel like this was a good win for the Sharks, the Cheetahs is better than everyone realizes. They could potentially have beaten us. They have taken those 4 log points from a couple of other log topping teams

    Before I am misanderstood, its not meant to say that the Sharks played great by their standards or any standard at all, but the Cheetahs are a better side than they have been. If I were the Stormers I’d be very careful of them in my last game.

    I am pleased with this win. It wasn’t great, but it means something that we can grind out victories like this even when we’re clearly not playing at our best.

    I won’t be able to say the same if we can’t get a proper win against the Lions and I’m still not convinced that we can take the Bulls at Loftus or any of the top 6 teams in the play-offs, but its a win and a step in the right direction.

    I hope to see improvement with every week, but for now I’ll take the win against a side that I felt could easily have beaten us.

  • Comment 30, posted at 06.06.11 15:07:35 by Letgo Reply
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  • @Ben (Comment 29) : Who says I have a reason? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Comment 31, posted at 06.06.11 15:21:31 by Letgo Reply
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  • @Ben (Comment 29) : I don’t like the idea of having two guys of 90kg and under in the midfield, is the first obvious reason and if you take Lambie’s size into consideration I would definitely feel like we’re lacking some bulk and therefore possibly go forward in the midfield.

    I also don’t like the idea of a creative, player next to a nuggety creative player, next to another nuggety creative player. It’s one dimensional.

    I already feel like Swannie would be a better option next to Lambie just because of his size. This is why Andries suddenly looked like a great 12 when playing next to Lambie (sure he also showed huge commitment, but letโ€™s face it he’s no JDV).

    Bosman imo is also not the right type of player next to Lambie. On Saturday he changed his game quite a lot to have one of his best games of the season. He straightened the line and took on the midfield and thus made some yards. He also used one of his best assets, which is his passing and created some room outside of him, but this was mainly in loose play and from a wider (more outside center) position on the field.

    You should always look at what each player in a combination brings to the table. I think with room Fred and Adi could be dangerous, but thatโ€™s where the problem could be. One doesn’t always have that much space in that 12 channel and imo needs someone willing to straighten and good enough to gain, and then even potentially release the ball to your 13, to create something for the backs.

  • Comment 32, posted at 06.06.11 15:21:47 by Letgo Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 28) : You normally post a lot of sense, but

    I also donโ€™t like the idea of a creative, player next to a nuggety creative player, next to another nuggety creative player. Itโ€™s one dimensional.

    doesn’t make any.

  • Comment 33, posted at 06.06.11 15:22:37 by rhineshark Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 30) : We’d be crazy to underestimate the Cheetah’s, it’s gonna be blimmin’ tough.

  • Comment 34, posted at 06.06.11 15:24:15 by molly Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 32) : So basically, because I feel it creates an imbalance in the midfield. Unless, you use Alberts for the go forward and make sure to get it out to Fred and Adi quickly while there is some space.

    Maybe there is a way to make it work, especially since those guys at least have same attacking skills, but I still feel it’s our combinations that needs to be looked at.

  • Comment 35, posted at 06.06.11 15:25:09 by Letgo Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 32) : Also wouldn’t underestimate the Lions either, all SA teams love to lift their game for the derbies. And the Lions are starting to find some confidence.

  • Comment 36, posted at 06.06.11 15:25:40 by molly Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 32) : are we missing a trick here? Could Meyer play 13? Or is he too slow?

  • Comment 37, posted at 06.06.11 15:26:12 by robdylan Reply
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  • @rhineshark (Comment 33) : Just because it doesn’t make sense to you doesn’t mean it’s non-sensical. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Comment 38, posted at 06.06.11 15:26:30 by Letgo Reply
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  • @rhineshark (Comment 33) : Ask me what you don’t understand about it, maybe we’re just not on the same wavelength.

    Itโ€™s like having 3 Keeganโ€™s playing as the loosies. It doesnโ€™t sound too bad in theory (unless you think of his size), but I donโ€™t think their play would complement each other.

  • Comment 39, posted at 06.06.11 15:29:20 by Letgo Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 32) :

    That center combo of Fred and Adi against Butch and Doppies could be a disaster.

  • Comment 40, posted at 06.06.11 15:31:57 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 38) : Having players at 10, 12 and 13 who can break the line, create something out of nothing and distribute well is one-dimensional? We’re not talking about 3 Keegans as loosies, which wouldn’t work (as you said), but about one each of Adi, Frenchie and Pat. Each of those guys bring something special to the field, but by no means are they all the same kind of player as far as I can see. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Comment 41, posted at 06.06.11 15:32:24 by rhineshark Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 37) : Possibly. I think Meyer is a talented player and has looked out of sorts next to another really talented player. Why? Either one of them is out of form, or they just don’t work as a combo!

    I think Adi looked better at 12 next to Lambie than Meyer did all season, when he came on in previous games, because Adi tends to straighten the line more. He’s not really a big ball carrying center, but he runs straigter lines and more to the contact than Bosman does.

    So, maybe it could work. Maybe even Fred rather on 13 and Adi on 12. I know I’m going a little far out of the box here, but that’s my anylyses of our midfield problems.

    We have a 10 taking on the line and a 12 just hanging back, so whatever our 10 does, gets nulified when he passes back to the 12 who then runs wide angles and swings to our 13, who by then really doesn’t have much to work with. Not that I’m covering for Stefan here, I’m just saying woulf Jaque Fourie have done much better?

  • Comment 42, posted at 06.06.11 15:37:58 by Letgo Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 35) : Exactly. We need to go back to what worked for us in the CC last year. With the kind of ball-retention and recycling we enjoyed, the likes of Adi and Freddie would run riot.

  • Comment 43, posted at 06.06.11 15:40:14 by rhineshark Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 42) : I’m glad you’ve spotted this problem with Meyer taking the ball too deep, passing immediately to Stef who himself does nothing with it before swinging to a wing. Our centres essentially become “ball shovellers” and our wonderful wings get possession so far behind the advantage line that they can’t do anything with it.

  • Comment 44, posted at 06.06.11 15:40:48 by robdylan Reply
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  • @rhineshark (Comment 41) :
    They are the same kind of players. As Jean Deysel/Alberts/Vermeulen/Johnson is the same kind of loosies. These three players are the same type of midfield players and would bring the same type of play to one position.

    Why is this so hard to explain? Who gets what I’m saying? Help me get my point across. I don’t have time to do it, I have to go. ๐Ÿ™

  • Comment 45, posted at 06.06.11 15:53:35 by Letgo Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 45) :

    I get what you’re saying and I agree. I don’t agree with Adi playing at 12 though.

  • Comment 46, posted at 06.06.11 15:56:50 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @rhineshark (Comment 43) : By the way, I’m not saying Adi and Freddy doesn’t have the potential to be potent on attack, it just doesn’t feel like it will work as a unit.

    Okay, really gotta go now.

  • Comment 47, posted at 06.06.11 15:57:22 by Letgo Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 45) : I get what you’re saying.

    You need the sort of rapier-broadsword combo in the centres. One nimble, one bludgeoning. Both should preferably be fast, but if you have a slow one, he should be at 12, not 13.

    can’t have two rapiers or two broadswords

  • Comment 48, posted at 06.06.11 15:58:52 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 48) :

    I got what Letgo is saying but what the heck are you on about?? :mrgreen:

  • Comment 49, posted at 06.06.11 16:00:22 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 46) : I think Bosman at 12 and Adi at 13 will work just fine. Wish we could at least TRY it

  • Comment 50, posted at 06.06.11 16:01:46 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 49) : ignore me, I’m on drugs

  • Comment 51, posted at 06.06.11 16:03:01 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 50) : I also think it’s time to try that combo especially if Bosman can continue the good form of the weekend.

  • Comment 52, posted at 06.06.11 16:04:36 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 52) : good to see you in a better mood! ๐Ÿ˜†

  • Comment 53, posted at 06.06.11 16:07:30 by Ice Reply
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  • @Ice (Comment 53) :
    You can be glad you didn’t see me during the game! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Comment 54, posted at 06.06.11 16:08:58 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 54) : Kinda makes two of us!! :mrgreen:

  • Comment 55, posted at 06.06.11 16:10:58 by Ice Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 52) : sorry to be blunt, but in my opinion that’s been bleeding obvious for 2 months now :mrgreen:

  • Comment 56, posted at 06.06.11 16:32:18 by robdylan Reply
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  • Good on you Rob. As supporters we had just about enough.

  • Comment 57, posted at 06.06.11 16:39:06 by catfish Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 48) : Thank Rob, that is what I was saying.

  • Comment 58, posted at 07.06.11 07:42:53 by Letgo Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 48) : Like Trevor Halstead + an over the hill Andrรฉ Snyman. Smart thinking there…. not! ๐Ÿ™„

  • Comment 59, posted at 07.06.11 08:14:42 by Culling Song Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 51) : See you in the fith dimension, the UFO’s are waiting!

  • Comment 60, posted at 07.06.11 08:15:21 by Culling Song Reply
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  • @Culling Song (Comment 59) : Or the even-worse combo of Halstead and Grant Rees!

    I think we even tried a combo of Swannie and Strauss on occasion!

  • Comment 61, posted at 07.06.11 08:19:55 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 61) : I’m trying to think of decent Sharks centre combinations over the last 20 years, and all I can think of is Muir/Thompson, Barrit/Murray & Muller/Keyser (I think they played together). ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

  • Comment 62, posted at 07.06.11 08:25:57 by Culling Song Reply
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