Super Rugby 2012: The Final – Preview and prediction

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 3 Aug 2012 at 09:47
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Well guys, after about 16 months and 1,234 matches, it’s finally here! Tomorrow marks the last game of the 2012 Super Rugby season and the miraculous thing for all of us is that the Sharks are still in it!

Now a huge amount has already been said about the different journey that the two sides involved have had to take in order to get to tomorrow’s showdown in Hamilton; the Chiefs have had to play one game less and haven’t left their home town since their final round-robin game, back on 13 July. The Sharks have been in knockout mode for far longer and have crossed the Indian Ocean four times already in an historic run to the final that has seen them dispatch both the Australian and South African conference winners in successive games. Nobody really knows what effect the “travel factor” is going to have on this game, so I prefer to discount it and simply concentrate on the two sides from a rugby point of view.

Both coaches have been fortunate in that the combinations named for this match are very close to full strength. Chiefs coach Dave Rennie would, I’m sure, love to have outside centre Richard Kahui fit as the perfect fol to danger-man Sonny Bill Williams, but aside from the long-term injury to the All Black centre, his side is in good shape. There’s a bit of an injury doubt regarding captain Craig Clarke, named to start despite a dodgy knee and the Sharks may want to ensure that the Chiefs skipper comes in for some rough treatment early in the game just to see how fit he really is. On the Sharks side, they’re without their two first-choice centres, Frans Steyn and Tim Whitehead but have more than enough quality backup available. There must be a lingering doubt, though, about both Paul Jordaan and Pat Lambie. Neither player has managed to play through a full game in the last 6 weeks, with their hamstring and ankle problems respectively appearing rather chronic in nature; the big test for Lambie in particular will be the bombs he will no doubt be expected to field from fullback and whether his ankle is really up to being landed on heavily.

The last time the teams met, in Durban, the Sharks were understrength at forward, but nevertheless managed to hold the Chiefs at bay for most of the game. Weariness aside, I don’t see the home side’s pack being able to live with the full might of a first-choice Sharks eight and with the visitors packing the bench with an extra forward, we’re hoping that the exchanges up-front will go the Sharks’ way. While much of the talk has centred on the phenomenal offloading ability of Williams – and the dangerous strike running of the Chiefs pacey outside backs – the Sharks will need to ensure that they control the flow of the game and keep the Chiefs on defence, rather than the other way round. The best way to neutralise Williams is to keep him on defence and should the popular All Black be forced to mark Jordaan all day, we may see some defensive frailties in his own game exposed.

In a final, though, it’s all about doing the little things right and taking your chances when they come. This means no mistakes at the set pieces and a fanatical approach to technique and personal discipline for every one of the Sharks players. With Fred Michalak and Pat Lambie providing the cool heads, they should be able to keep the game played in the right parts of the field and it’s key to ensure that the game stays in those areas of the park where the Sharks’ anticipated advantage in the pack can be brought to bear. In particular, though, it will be important to keep the dangerous Sona Taumololo at bay and one feels that for the Sharks, the key here can be summarised as “scrum early and scrum often”. The Tongan prop has scored nine tries this season from close range and should he be able to add a tenth to that tally, particularly late in the game when the Sharks’ legs are tiring, it could prove catastrophic. My feeling is that Jannie du Plessis and Wors Herbst need to ensure that Taumololo gets taken off early, one way or the other.

Making a prediction about who is going to win any rugby match is a mug’s game and this final is so much worse. I’ve always been a heart on shoulder kind of guy, though, meaning that I really do back my Sharks to take this one. They’ve been through a hell of a lot and accomplished so much already, but I know – as does every player in that team – that finals don’t come along all that often in this competition and that it’s about bloody time we won one. Motivation could not be higher and the boys are playing the rugby of their lives. Sharks to take this one, by 4 points.

Chiefs: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Andrew Horrell, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Kane Thompson, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (captain), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Sona Taumalolo.
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Ben Afeaki, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Jackson Willison, 22 Lelia Masaga.

Sharks: 15 Patrick Lambie, 14 Louis Ludik, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Paul Jordaan, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 FrΓ©dΓ©ric Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Keegan Daniel (captain), 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Jean Deysel, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Riaan Viljoen.


  • I would never have thought we would be in the final a few months ago. I was watching the game against the Reds on youtube in the middle of the night a few nights ago. One thing that I picked up on with the Aussie commentators is how they were gushing about the Sharks and their defense. They were going on about how much trust the have in the guy on their inside and their outside and how this allows them to defend so well. How the guys are playing for each other and as a unit.

    Confidence breeds success and the way the boys are playing they have enough confidence and belief mixed with the talent to blow the Chiefs away.

  • Comment 1, posted at 03.08.12 09:54:44 by lostfish Reply
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    Got our rugby court session tomorrow night, but I’ll be skipping that if they don’t have Sky πŸ˜€

  • Comment 2, posted at 03.08.12 09:55:05 by hendrikp Reply

  • @lostfish (Comment 1) : this is the thing, Fishy. I’m actually getting goosies as I type this… the Sharks have seldom lacked for talent, but it’s that confidence that they’ve so often lacked in the past. The Sharks last played as a “team” like this back in the 2010 Currie Cup, when Stefan managed to get (and keep) them motivated with his “everybody is writing us off, now just believe you can do it” approach. I think the confidence in the team at the moment is, if anything, stronger now because it’s coming from all of the senior players and seems to affect the entire squad.

  • Comment 3, posted at 03.08.12 09:58:12 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 3) : So now comes the massive question… is Plumtree still a mediocre coach or has he improved as well. I have no idea where the backline is getting their inspiration (JP maybe) but I am sure they are doing well in spite of HR-E.

  • Comment 4, posted at 03.08.12 10:03:40 by lostfish Reply
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  • @lostfish (Comment 4) : I can’t answer that question now – because I don’t know the answer and because I also think it’s inappropriate right now.

    What I will say is this… Plumtree was in charge when the Sharks won the 20120 Currie Cup and Plumtree is in charge now… the rugby that the team played during those two spells is the best I’ve seen, pretty much ever. The coach has to take some credit for it.

  • Comment 5, posted at 03.08.12 10:08:28 by robdylan Reply
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  • The excitement is killing me(and my ability to concentrate at work)

    Go Sharks!

  • Comment 6, posted at 03.08.12 10:09:20 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • I can’t wait for the game! Just hope the boys are focused 100% and don’t let emotion and passion cloud their judgement on the field.

  • Comment 7, posted at 03.08.12 10:11:13 by KingRiaan Reply

  • Seems like the guys have matured through this up and down season, just hope the occasion is not to overwhelming for them, they’ve been in 3 previous ones, this is their time!!!


  • Comment 8, posted at 03.08.12 10:13:04 by pierre_mackie Reply
  • @Pokkel (Comment 6) : Same here!

  • Comment 9, posted at 03.08.12 10:20:03 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • I know it’s going to hurt if we don’t pull it through if I continue to see JP going over for a try, Bresler tackling the hell out of Messam and Jordaan stepping sonny and Keegan lifting the trophy. I know it hurts so much more if you believe.

    But I just can’t stop.

    I believe the Sharks will win.

    It’s an awful and awesome feeling all at once.

  • Comment 10, posted at 03.08.12 10:33:44 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @robdylan (Comment 5) : I suppose I have been listening to others too much about Plum. I still don’t like the period between the 2010 Currie Cup and now. But credit where credit is due to Plum.

  • Comment 11, posted at 03.08.12 10:36:09 by lostfish Reply
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  • Damn but that Keo can get on my nerves! 😑

  • Comment 12, posted at 03.08.12 10:41:08 by KingRiaan Reply

  • @lostfish (Comment 11) : Here’s my opinion on the issue. I think the team has been well coached. The selections was good and most games we saw glimpses of what the guys were capable of, but never that complete performance until recently.

    I think it’s what we’ve been talking about for a while now. They needed a kop dokter or some other way to motivate and get that confidence and team spirit going. It just so happens that the senior players got that motivation from within, or Plum said a few things that stuck, or they all watched a movie that awoken the passion again. Whatever it was, I really don’t think it was ever the playing ability or coaching that let us down.

    The thing is you can’t rely on players just pulling the passion out of a hat every year. This needs to be something every team works on with a professional. As Morne mentioned in one of his articles.

    For now, I’m just happy, that what ever happened within the Sharks team to fire them up like this, happened when it did.

  • Comment 13, posted at 03.08.12 10:44:28 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • boys with my skottle out and have bacon eggs port bangers groups around the country are all supporting you. Make us proud and play to the best of your abilities. Time to use your spare tank.

  • Comment 14, posted at 03.08.12 10:52:54 by Dunx Reply

  • @KingRiaan (Comment 12) : I wouldn’t read too much into his predictions. He’s often gotten it wrong and sometimes spectacularly so. The 2010 Super Rugby final comes to mind.

  • Comment 15, posted at 03.08.12 11:01:50 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Dunx (Comment 14) :

    port bangers?? now that does sound interesting!

  • Comment 16, posted at 03.08.12 11:25:22 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • @robdylan (Comment 5) : A Freudian slip,20120 Currie Cup is ours as well? πŸ˜† Plum is a clever coach & I am sure if he plays poker no-one can read him!Let’s give him some credit for what has happened as well as the bond he has created in the team.I believe he uses the bourgeoius tactic of your place is not guaranteed – you need to earn it, so as competitive sportsman everyone seems to have embraced this. GO SHARKS!! History in the making! 😎

  • Comment 17, posted at 03.08.12 12:16:49 by markm Reply

  • Ive been backing the Sharks in every game except the play off game against the Reds 😳 Go SHARKS!

  • Comment 18, posted at 03.08.12 12:48:49 by JarsonX Reply
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  • My thought exactly on SB. Sharks by 4……….

  • Comment 19, posted at 03.08.12 13:28:39 by SharksRTB Reply

  • @JarsonX (Comment 18) : Sies! Skaam jou!

  • Comment 20, posted at 03.08.12 13:42:26 by Die Kriek Reply

  • I was so bummed that I was going to miss this final! πŸ˜₯ But now at least I’ll see the First Half and maybe more πŸ™‚ hopefully by HT the scoreline will already be 20-0 after tries from Pietersen and Daniel as well as two drops from Magic Man Michalak πŸ˜› !!

    Ooh I simply cannot waiiiit! Hopefully tomorrow is gooooood πŸ™‚

  • Comment 21, posted at 03.08.12 14:50:33 by The Sharks Sharkie Reply
    The Sharks Sharkie
  • @Die Kriek (Comment 20) : I have more faith in this team than previous years. That’s why I lose my mind when they lose against teams like the Lions.

  • Comment 22, posted at 03.08.12 14:54:23 by JarsonX Reply
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  • @JarsonX (Comment 22) : They had their heads on the Bok Squad announcement, not the Lions. Wrong head space, bad match. Right head space (i.e. the last coupla weeks), good match(es). πŸ™‚

  • Comment 23, posted at 03.08.12 15:04:28 by The Sharks Sharkie Reply
    The Sharks Sharkie
  • @The Sharks Sharkie (Comment 23: and that is my explanation of that loss as well.

    Let’s hope the team announcement on Saturday has no effect this time!

  • Comment 24, posted at 03.08.12 15:27:23 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • @Ice (Comment 24) : Now that we’ve had a few Bok matches, everyone knows more-or-less what the squad will look like and so it won’t be as much of a big thing.

    Plus a final is a lot bigger than a Lions game in the middle of the season… They shouldn’t be distracted 😎

  • Comment 25, posted at 03.08.12 15:38:21 by The Sharks Sharkie Reply
    The Sharks Sharkie
  • Well I’ve got sharks 11 to 15 points. That demolition job our BEAST did on the stormers………..Chiefs 8 not as good. Oh and I want to see SBW try and tackle Big WA. AVE will become sbw and I notice on predictive text ………sbw…….becomes…………ave.

  • Comment 26, posted at 03.08.12 15:50:30 by Bayshark Reply


    You guys had one heck of a final sprint the 2nd half of the season…and you best deserve….

  • Comment 27, posted at 03.08.12 21:24:36 by Hmmm Reply

  • The team has a great balance….and JPP….WOW!!! You been smashing people up…you are the best wing in the world at the moment!!!

  • Comment 28, posted at 03.08.12 21:26:06 by Hmmm Reply

  • Soo nervous and excited!!! Gooo shaaaaarrrkkksss!!!

  • Comment 29, posted at 04.08.12 06:25:17 by RuckingFun Reply


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