Hertford Highlander

Sharks provide blueprint to beating the All Blacks

Written by Gwyn Pratley (Hertford Highlander)

Posted in :All Blacks, In the news, RWC 2011, Sharks, Springboks, Super Rugby on 30 Jun 2011 at 01:38
Tagged with : , , , , , , , ,

James Mortimer writes on All Blacks.com that the Sharks were able to shut down the vaunted Crusaders machine in the opening stages of their match, but while their success might be able to be applied to the All Blacks, it wasn’t without flaw.

The now eliminated South Africans arrived in New Zealand buoyed by their hard fought win over the Bulls in the final round (which eliminated the champions), and were able to employ their Springbok laden pack to excellent effect.

Led by the outstanding Bismarck du Plessis, who has forced test captain John Smit to the bench in recent matches, the Sharks were able to lead 5-3 after 30 minutes.

They were aggressive at the breakdown, throwing greater numbers into the engagement, while showing greater technical proficiency against a Crusaders team that coach Todd Blackadder said didn’t have great body position in the first half – playing their worst 40 minutes all season according to their boss.

A rudimentary form of rush defence was then able to stifle the New Zealand Conference champions space, putting pressure on the Crusaders’ attempt to get their game flowing.

The winning of these small but crucial battles meant that the Crusaders methodical and fluent game could not initiate, with the seven-time champions forced into mistakes, while All Blacks like Dan Carter and Sonny Bill Williams were made to look mortal.

The latter did score a crucial try which swung the game’s momentum, and the vital shift in the ‘ebb and flow’ of the contest was confirmed when Kieran Read snatched his intercept.

As the game wore on though, the Sharks success in shutting down the Crusaders faltered, as their reliance on a one-dimensional plan to close down their opposition was unable to hold court for the full match.

The Crusaders were able to counter the Sharks opening half hour of aggression, and their set piece and superior wide running game enabled them to canter out to an eventual 36-8 triumph.

But the Crusaders, like the All Blacks, struggled with physical intensity at the ruck and speed and fervour off the defensive line.

A well known fact, but one that isn’t guaranteed to succeed with the Crusaders – and for that matter the All Blacks – too good against their most recent rivals.

The Sharks could have pushed forward to become the first team to beat the Crusaders in a New Zealand based Super Rugby Finals’ match, as well as become the first South African outfit to win away from home in knockout rugby, but they didn’t have the puff to maintain their ferocity and were not as clinical (as perhaps the Springboks in 2009) in their overall implementation.

With the Crusaders, or for that matter any New Zealand team, wanting to often play a positive and open game, shutting down possession at it’s source and giving a talented back division little time to move can be the most simple and effective way to close down even the most talented side.

A clash in Cape Town and a potential Super Rugby Final in Brisbane stand between this Crusaders team etching their names in history as the eighth such team to claim the title, a side with all the hallmarks of past championship winning hybrids, and they have a chance of achieving their goal – with their game this season all but impossible to stop when on song.

The Sharks might have showed glimpses of how it can be interrupted.

It is likely their approach could be duplicated by teams wanting to spoil what could be one of the All Blacks biggest parties of all time, playing during the Rugby World Cup on New Zealand soil.


  • So HH what’s your prediction for the All Blacks in the WC. Will they lose in the QF? Or in the Semi Final? Or will they go one step further and lose in the final??? 😆

  • Comment 1, posted at 30.06.11 01:46:10 by Ben Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Ben (Comment 1) :

    It’s not keeping me awake at night ….but ….The biggest obstacle to me looks the Boks in the Semi at Eden Park.

    Especially if it’s wet and it becomes a slug fest up front – will be tight.

    Then the same could happen for either team in the wet in the Final against an England team that look well equipped to play an effective game in the wet as well.

    Anyones tournament. 😯

  • Comment 2, posted at 30.06.11 02:10:30 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • @Hertford Highlander (Comment 2) : I’m going with the Aussies to take the whole thing. Watch this space! 😉

  • Comment 3, posted at 30.06.11 02:12:54 by Ben Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Ben (Comment 3) :

    I will, I’m still in the camp that they are a little flaky in the front row and might get reffed out the game by the Northern Hemisphere guys with the whistle. 🙄

  • Comment 4, posted at 30.06.11 02:15:54 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • @Hertford Highlander (Comment 4) : They are the Dark horses to win it. Only team that can come close to producing a quality ball running backline like NZ imo.

  • Comment 5, posted at 30.06.11 02:20:15 by Ben Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Ben (Comment 5) : so don’t u sleep anymore…. Who’d u run over with the car that keep u awake all night 🙂

  • Comment 6, posted at 30.06.11 06:19:43 by franshark Reply
  • @franshark (Comment 6) : My night and day is swapped this week.

  • Comment 7, posted at 30.06.11 07:24:17 by Ben Reply
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  • @Ben (Comment 5) : I think a lot will become clear this weekend when the reds play their semi. IMO you cannot play running rugby in finals. Its all about defence and penalties. That why NZ strugle in WC’s and thats why I think the reds wont win the super rugby comp. But lets see what unfolds…

  • Comment 8, posted at 30.06.11 08:21:31 by Viking Reply
  • @Viking (Comment 8) : You’ve got a very good point.

  • Comment 9, posted at 30.06.11 08:25:20 by Ben Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • “as well as become the first South African outfit to win away from home in knockout rugby”

    The Sharks are the only team to have won away from home. They beat the Reds in Brisabane in a semi final.

  • Comment 10, posted at 30.06.11 09:03:18 by waje Reply

  • @Ben (Comment 7) : some jetlag 🙂

  • Comment 11, posted at 30.06.11 09:07:58 by franshark Reply
  • @waje:comment 10: well done!

  • Comment 12, posted at 30.06.11 12:08:26 by bergshark Reply

  • @waje (Comment 10) : you tell him 😛

  • Comment 13, posted at 30.06.11 12:19:57 by rekinek Reply
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  • And bryce lawrence once again revealed the blue print for beating the boks 🙁 🙁

  • Comment 14, posted at 30.06.11 12:44:31 by bergshark Reply


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