Demands? Expectations? Results!

Written by Maria Delport (Letgo)

Posted in :Original Content, Super Rugby on 9 May 2012 at 08:15
Tagged with : , , , , , , , ,

With a 50% win record and only 6 games to go in the season, the Sharks are fighting to stay alive in 2012 and they know it. “From here every game is like a final, that pressure is on us” says Plumtree, and with a record like this you can’t be too surprised by the way the fans are reacting. Emotionally, yes, but that is the fanatical nature of a supporter. Who do you blame when a team that started off with so much potential has this kind of record.

Plumtree is not afraid to make changes to his team as we have seen this past weekend and when you ask him whether those changes were based on injury, tactics or form he answers it as bluntly as you could, “Form” he says, as if the one word needs no friends to support its basis. We all know the team has been disappointing and a few players stood out as individuals in those bad performances and Plum in no uncertain way has made it clear that those players won’t maintain their spot in the team if they don’t step it up. “There was a couple of players in the backs that I wasn’t happy with and Ludik deserved an opportunity because he has been playing so well on the wing, he is very committed and he deserved an opportunity at fullback.” He goes on to mention the young and exciting midfielder Paul Jordaan, “We gave him the opportunity and now he can get some real confidence. If I show confidence in him, like I did last week he can go out there and express himself. It was a very similar scenario to Pat Lambie a couple years ago, we kept him back for a while and then he was in and he was away. Hopefully we’ll see that with Paul and his future can kick on now.” Certainly this will be pleasing for many to hear, as the call has been made to give the exciting youngsters an opportunity and it seems like it may also be more than just a one time thing,  “We know what talent he is” says Plumtree of Jordaan.

It seems having a full squad and needing to make a few decisions regarding selection has not made the coach feel under pressure, there’s no talk of selection headaches for Plumtree and as far as he is concerned this creates the type of competitiveness that is healthy within a team and it seems he feels that this will prompt players to step up to a higher level.

The question is, does this willingness to make cuts and changes indicate that the coach knows what he is doing and where he is going or does it show a glint of desperation from a coach that is unsure of his next move and how to turn a mediocre season into a successful one? It is not that anyone can directly disagree with his statement of players out of form or the quality of the players that has been rewarded. It is also true that solid defense is one of the important aspects of success this year, as the coach duly pointed out, “It is in fact the two best defensive teams that lies at the top of the table this year, not the most attacking teams. So we just want to put a game plan into place, if that means we kick more, then that’s what we’ll attempt to execute.”, but does this mean the coach has made some kind of revelation or is he simply catching on to the same teams he is chasing on the log? Or is this over critical?

We demand a type of game from the Sharks, we want them to be exciting and score tries and we celebrate every high flying pocket rocket selected over the solid, reliable and together player. We stop just short of writing poems about the speedsters and the Sonny-Bill like offloads, we want the players who has that spark and can ignite a beautiful attacking move from anywhere, but when that same players rakes up the errors, misses tackles and shy away from the grunt work that would ensure the quick and accurate play we have sorely missed this season, we blame the coach? Then the coach includes more spark, rewards form and employ a game plan outwitting a form 2012 team and we still can’t look past what’s wrong with everything in the team, it seems that we would not have made the best coaches after all and that the best thing for the team would be to simply eliminate the noise and focus on what is ahead.

We don’t need to be like a chorus behind every decision made with the Sharks and certainly not the results these decisions have produced this year, but at some point we have to own up and admit that every step that has been taken this year was one we asked for at some point. We asked for a more exciting midfield that can break the line and that step was taken. We asked for the exclusion of players that has been marked as hasbeens and the appointment of a new exciting captain that will show the future of the Sharks and the step was taken. We asked for more young players being given opportunities and that step was taken two-three fold this year. We ask for these things, exclaiming that if these steps will be taken and these changes will be affected then we will be pleased, then we will support the change and give it an opportunity to form into something special for the Sharks.

But then the fact still remains, even after improvements or what we believed to be improvements has been made to the team – Tim Whitehead has certainly brought some excitement to our midfield and the move of JP Pietersen, although it wasn’t all the fireworks we expected it must be said was a successful one. Marcell Coetzee has been one of the best loose forwards of the competition and Dale Chadwick, Anton Bresler, Jandre Marais, Wien Herbst, Pieter Steph Du Toit and now Paul Jordaan are all finding their way to the senior squad. All these things should be good things and should improve the team and yet the Sharks aren’t looking any better than they did last year at this time, or two years or three years ago at this time. So if on face value the team has improved, why haven’t the results?


  • I suppose that should be Jandre Marais,not Juandre Kruger

  • Comment 1, posted at 09.05.12 08:38:45 by Ludz Reply
  • @Ludz (Comment 1) :

    Thanks 😉

  • Comment 2, posted at 09.05.12 08:44:18 by Richard Ferguson Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    Richard Ferguson
  • @Ludz (Comment 1) : @Richard Ferguson (Comment 2) : Yip, thanks.

  • Comment 3, posted at 09.05.12 08:53:44 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • You got all this from one media briefing? Sounds like it was an exciting one.

  • Comment 4, posted at 09.05.12 08:53:46 by waje Reply

  • Maybe it is because we had poor backline coaches last year and they are still there this year?

  • Comment 5, posted at 09.05.12 08:57:20 by jonnow Reply

  • Great article. I still believe we had the right gameplan all along, it was just inaccuracy and the inability to play for 80mins that let us down. Remember that we were in the game most of the way against those great ‘defensive’ teams only to be undone by our lack of skills and indiscipline.
    If a move to a more defensive orientated, kicking mindset is in view of above, I’m not sure how I feel about it. I want to win, but at what expense.
    Are the coaches saying we don’t know how to get this team to improve they’re composure on attack, we don’t know how to improve their catching and passing skills?
    We had the accuracy to play a running game in the 2010 currie cup, we made something like one handling error in that final in the first half…it was incredible stuff, again it was against the same Stormers defense so just as much pressure.

    After this weekend we were waxing lyrical about the backline’s lack of try-scoring ability and calling for Bashford’s head. This is in stark contrast to the beginning of the season where our backs sliced up the much-vaunted Stormers defense pretty much at will. Everyone was bemused at the reversal in fortunes between the pack and backline, the pack having saved us the past couple of seasons.
    And I still believe the forwards are the issue. Collectively the pack is underperforming big time, McCleod is not getting good ball, no wonder he looks so out of kilter this season.

  • Comment 6, posted at 09.05.12 09:03:19 by neilster Reply

  • @neilster (Comment 6) : We are credited with 2 line breaks against the Stormers – 1 by Coetzee and 1 by Mvovo. So a reasonable showing, but I would not go as far as calling it slicing up the Stormers defence.

    But I do agree with you on one important point – a lot of our problems start with poor ball presentation at rucks. This was often made worse by allowing the opposition to disrupt the rucks. I must say it seemed to have improved a bit in recent weeks

    Shaving a few seconds of the time to get the ball away from the contact point makes it a lot easier for a back to gain ground and even break the line. The Sharks outside backs usually find themselves outnumbered by defenders and we hardly ever get anywhere. So instead of running against a scrambling defense, we almost always face an organized line

    We really need to work at speeding up the movement of ball from a ruck to the weakest point in the defense – see where we waste time and fix it

  • Comment 7, posted at 09.05.12 09:17:53 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @neilster (Comment 6) : McLeod is at best an average scrumhalf at Super Rugby level. Scrumhalf is one of The Sharks weakest links.

  • Comment 8, posted at 09.05.12 09:23:16 by lostfish Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter Competition Winner
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 7) : Only two, seemed like far more, I was no doubt exaggerating due to – at that the point – the prolific improvement in the backs.
    Absolutely on the money, its the speed of ball to the backs but its also the pack’s inability to suck in defenders. I do feel the wide ball is also quite telegraphed by Lambie at times. We’d do well to have some inside runners to keep the defense interested.

  • Comment 9, posted at 09.05.12 09:26:13 by neilster Reply

  • @lostfish (Comment 8) : Valid point. Is he average and was a one-season wonder? Or is his form suffering along with many others in the side. It does seem endemic.

  • Comment 10, posted at 09.05.12 09:33:02 by neilster Reply

  • @neilster (Comment 9) : Yeah, that is one thing that is disappointing about the pack. We have some guys putting in a lot of tackles and cleaning rucks, but we pretty much rely on Marcel for go-forward ball.

    Our pack in the Highlanders game made a total of 102m in tight play, and a paltry 1 m in pick-and-drive, whereas the Landers made 190m in tight play and 74m from pick-and-drives.

    Of our 102m, Marcell made 48.

    I know that the Highlanders dominated possession, but for a Sharks pack that used to be known for the pick and drives up the middle creating momentum for the backs, this is not really good enough

  • Comment 11, posted at 09.05.12 09:35:55 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 11) : Totally, and how many successful mauls have we had this season. You couldn’t count them on one hand.

  • Comment 12, posted at 09.05.12 09:37:50 by neilster Reply

  • 😈 I do not believe it is one or two talented players. Jordaan should, like any player, play of the bench in his first game. Paul was lost for the first half and tried to get grips with the pace and team culture. He held up his end though and tackled hard. He caught up at the end.

    The main reason why our XV lost the quarters and what we need to correct to be competitive every week is still the lack of the following KILLER APPS:

    We can not handle a rugby ball. We knock on in the line-out, on attack, in defence and even at kick-off!!
    Our passes are inaccurate so the receiver has to slow down, jump or stretch.
    We show very little judgment when kicking and receiving the ball. Lambie cleaned up last week at least and although the supporters will miss the flair of the old Sharks, it contributed to a win on a night that the Highlanders did not expect this change.
    We lack discipline. Some players are above the team and captain. Marcell was the main sinner and reason that Botes got a yellow.
    The support play is absent some time. When we support, we score and we score beautiful. Lambie’s try is a good example, but we need more!
    We focus on either defence or attack. When the game plan is concentrated on the one, the other falls behind and we were poor on Saturday!

    The good news is that the APPS are all BASICS and can be acquired without a budget or special services. The coaches need to go back and pick it up again.

    The patience that Walsh showed with the Highlanders throughout the game was not demonstrated and Botes was soon showed a yellow. I was expecting the yellow for the opponent in the second half, but it never came. This we can not really control but we must be understand it. 😈

  • Comment 13, posted at 09.05.12 11:06:05 by KILLER SHARK Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
  • “The question is, does this willingness to make cuts and changes indicate that the coach knows what he is doing and where he is going or does it show a glint of desperation from a coach that is unsure of his next move and how to turn a mediocre season into a successful one? ”

    Million dollar question that!

  • Comment 14, posted at 09.05.12 13:38:16 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Big Fish (Comment 14) : I woudn’t say his selection moves indicates that he is unsure, but I think his game plan may indicate this.

  • Comment 15, posted at 09.05.12 15:17:39 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Letgo (Comment 15) : And the fact that he seems to only now realise that you have to defend well to win or have the best defence to win. These are the type of things that needs to be in pace and on cue when the season starts.

    Defence, ball skills, break down, set pieces. Oh wait, basics. 😐

    Then games the whole game plan thing. It’s sad that the Sharks are losing based on the fact that we’re not doing the basics right.

    Now I blame the whole system, with the players at the end of this stick. At the end of the day these guys need to execute well, even a good game plan can look bad when the players are sloppy.

  • Comment 16, posted at 09.05.12 15:21:43 by Letgo Reply
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