Prepare for plenty of thrills (and spills)

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 23 Feb 2012 at 08:00
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

Pierre Spies has described the looming Loftus clash between his Bulls and the Sharks as a “physical war”, an indication that he expects a repeat of the bloody battles, typically dominated by relentless driving play amongst the forwards, that has typified these encounters in years gone by. I’m not sure that he’s right, though – in fact I find myself quietly hoping that the Sharks might just bring something entirely different to that this year.

I think we’ve shown over the past few seasons that, by and large, we’ve been able to match the Bulls at this kind of game, with either side, on any given day, standing as good a chance of winning as the other. In head to head encounters in Super Rugby, it’s fair to say that the Sharks and Bulls have been two sides very hard to separate in recent years, even though the men from Pretoria, regrettably, are the ones with all the silverware. It’s very tempting to fall into the trap of thinking that we should expect even greater dominance – particularly at forward – against the old foe now that they have lost a number of key players.

Problem is, we have too, albeit in this case (mostly) temporarily, due to injury. We’d be naive to discount the impact of losing the likes of Beast Mtawarira, Jean Deysel and Willem Alberts (along with John Smit and Eugene van Staden) since these are exactly the sort of player who have proved most effective in matching (or even beating) the Bulls at their own game. While I like the look of our pack for this game, I’d be lying if I said with confidence that I thought we had the upper hand in this area.

Why play that game, though? If last year taught us anything, it’s that becoming predictable in your approach guarantees a one-way ticket to rugby scrapheap and maybe, just maybe, the lack of old-school bashers in our lineup might force us to seek another, infinitely more exciting way to get the job done. After all, there are many ways to get to the goal line and running around the opposition, rather than over them, is also a viable option (albeit one the Sharks seem to have eschewed in recent campaigns).

Loftus will be interesting because the very nature of the team picked will force the Sharks to adapt to a new style of play. The Bulls will play like the Bulls always play and while they too will have some debutants on their books, you get the feeling that adding those youngsters into the mix will never really alter the dynamic of a Bulls team, because they are so well-drilled in their structures and their patterns. For the Sharks, though – particularly amongst the backs – this will be “just like starting over” and I’m prepared to watch what happens with somewhat of an open mind, knowing that cakes can’t be baked without breaking eggs (or something like that).

The Sharks, in short, are going to be forced to play a far more high-tempo, inventive and exciting game on Friday than would usually be the case; they simply don’t have the right personnel to win a forward-based slugfest and to try that route would be folly. I’m prepared for plenty of edge-of-the-seat moments as a result, but I’m trying to keep in the back of my mind that higher-risk rugby, while fun to watch, can sometimes backfire too.

Let the viewer be warned!


  • if spies expects a physical war, does this mean he will actually make some tackles.

  • Comment 1, posted at 23.02.12 08:29:07 by MJ Reply
  • We still have Bismarck, Jannie, Sykes, and Marcell who can bring the physical game just as hard, if not harder, than the Bulls

    When faced by the physical onslaught, we may just be surprised at who will be climbing into the fray and holding their own against the Bulls

  • Comment 2, posted at 23.02.12 08:47:03 by Die Kriek Reply
  • 😈 We have had PUBLIC SERVANT weather (starts to rain as soon as they leave the office) all week here in Pretoria, so we may be in for a wet, wet game!! 😈

  • Comment 3, posted at 23.02.12 08:49:37 by KILLER SHARK Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
  • Not so sure about liking this pack Rob. In the circumstances, its the best we have, but we are light in the T5.

    Fully agree that the make-up of the team suggests a different game-plan from Plumtree. I have been crying for this for some time, so I too am willing to shut my trap if we struggle along initially as we switch gears.

  • Comment 4, posted at 23.02.12 08:51:19 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • No dominance expected from the Bulls upfront:

    As di bulle nou speel is dit nie mee “Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage” nie is nou “Buk, Vroetel, Vryf en Cuddle”…=))

  • Comment 5, posted at 23.02.12 09:03:41 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • Even if we are handed a sound hiding (which I doubt), I will remain upbeat and supportive of the Sharks on condition that:
    1) The team that runs out closely resembles the team that has been announced. I don’t mind the odd bit of “Skeate instead of Bresler (as a possible example)” smoke and mirrors mindgames from Plum, but an old-style conservative selection of (as another possible example) 10. Michalak 12. Bosman 13. Joubert 15. Lambie will see me tendering my resignation as a Sharks fan
    2) That a less than positive result does not result in a immediate return to conservative selection for the next game
    3) That the team on the field plays something other than the “Pass the Ball to Bismarck. Recycle. Pass the ball to Bismarck. Recycle. Pass the…” game.

  • Comment 6, posted at 23.02.12 09:04:53 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling Song
  • @Culling Song (Comment 6) :

    An executive decision has been made and approved.

    You WILL watch the Bulls game at my place tomorrow night before departing on holiday! :mrgreen:

  • Comment 7, posted at 23.02.12 09:11:52 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • @Ice (Comment 5) : :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: Permission to E-mail that to every Bulls fan on my contact list?

  • Comment 8, posted at 23.02.12 09:17:36 by Die Kriek Reply

  • @Pokkel (Comment 7) : Wish that was possible!

  • Comment 9, posted at 23.02.12 09:25:08 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling Song
  • @Ice (Comment 5) : @Die Kriek (Comment 8) : Permission to pay a hacker to post that onto the official Bulls website? :mrgreen:

  • Comment 10, posted at 23.02.12 09:26:00 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling Song
  • @Culling Song (Comment 9) :

    Your timing sucks my friend!

    I’m quite nervous, after reading Lullaby, that you might start reading poetry to some players Bulls players this year. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 11, posted at 23.02.12 09:27:03 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • @Pokkel (Comment 11) : Keep your eye on Slegmann. If he keels over, you know where to start looking… :mrgreen:

  • Comment 12, posted at 23.02.12 09:36:16 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling Song
  • @Die Kriek (Comment 8) : Sure! LOL u can even tell them u got it from ICE on SW! 😉

  • Comment 13, posted at 23.02.12 09:40:12 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • @Culling Song (Comment 10) : I hereby nominate a fund raising event in support of this glorious venture!

  • Comment 14, posted at 23.02.12 09:40:25 by Die Kriek Reply

  • @Die Kriek (Comment 14) : If someone could change the Bulls Logo to a pink Koeie logo, and have aforementioned slogan attached, and do it in such a manner that it take at least a week to change back, I will pay for it out of my own pocket, costs be damned! :mrgreen:

  • Comment 15, posted at 23.02.12 10:41:27 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling Song
  • Bulls will miss FdP the most.
    Without his precision kicks all the pressure will shift to Morne.
    Pressurize Morne, get him behind the advantage line and cracks will start to show.
    Easy ! :mrgreen:

  • Comment 16, posted at 23.02.12 11:27:00 by Original Pierre Reply
    Original Pierre
  • @Culling Song (Comment 15) : :mrgreen: It has been done! I saw it on a Bulls supporter’s phone this morning :mrgreen:

  • Comment 17, posted at 23.02.12 15:55:10 by KILLER SHARK Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
  • @Ice (Comment 5) :

  • Comment 18, posted at 23.02.12 20:29:37 by SheShark Reply


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