Mixed emotions after opening win

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 26 Feb 2013 at 10:46
Tagged with : , , ,

If anything, it’s probably fair to say that opinion amongst Sharks fans is somewhat polarised after Saturday’s 29-22 win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

The visitors ran out anything but comfortable winners and were forced to defend their line desperately towards the end, defending the slenderest of margins, yet ultimately managing to deny the Cheetahs a last-minute score to draw the match. While most, I’m sure, will concede that a victory against the Cheetahs, at altitude, was perhaps not a bad result at all for a seriously undercooked side, the fact that the Sharks at one stage held a 26-5 advantage and appeared to have the Cheetahs completely under the cosh heading into the final quarter has many a little worked up.

The inevitable question is this: how do you go from a 21-point lead and a possible bonus point victory, to scrambling desperately on your own line to claw out any sort of win at all on 80 minutes? Even more galling is the fact that he Cheetahs outscored the Sharks by three tries to two in the process, raising, perhaps, some awkward questions ahead of games against better opposition yet to come.

The Sharks management seems to ascribe this to a softer than usual warm-up program that saw the team short on match fitness ahead of the opener. That, I feel, is probably pretty close to the truth, especially given the way the team, collectively, appeared to run out of puff after an hour, after a truly dominant performance in virtually all aspects up to that point. If this is indeed the case, then a run of matches at sea level over the next few weeks should hopefully improve matters. In fact, so benign is the Sharks’ draw this year that it will be 6 July before they next play at any stadium more than 100 metres above sea level, when they travel to Pretoria to take on the Bulls.

The other, far more sinister explanation, is that the self-same mental malaise that sees the Sharks seemingly unable to truly capitalise when faced with an all-but-vanquished opponent, once again reared its head on Saturday. Could it be that little something in their make-up upstairs that prompts them to take their foot off the pedal just slightly when they feel the game is won, rather than flooring it in the interests of racking up the biggest score possible? We’re certainly hoping that this isn’t going to be the case again this year, but those ascribing to this school of thought will never be short of case studies to substantiate their position, when looking back at the Sharks’ recent history.


  • It did seem that they ran out of steam quite badly, but lets hope it’s part of the plan to start quite undercooked and peak in the second half of the season. I’ll take the win over a fresh Cheetahs team in bloem at this stage.

  • Comment 1, posted at 26.02.13 11:06:37 by PTAShark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • Considering it was the first game I am happy with the result. But we need to keep the pressure up for the full 80 and that will only come with match fitness.

  • Comment 2, posted at 26.02.13 11:29:39 by Viking Reply
  • One must also bring into consideration that we kicked 5 penalties and that at least 3 of those were from negative play from the opposition when we were on the attack and looked quite likely to score. In the past when we were in that position we would either knock on,try to off load to eagerly or give a turnover due to some poor decision making for one liked the fact that we kept possession and applied pressure. And thus turning possession into points. Would like to see the conversion percentage of how many times we got points when we were in their 22. The cheetahs are known for coming back strongly in the last 20min when they are behind. So all in all I am very pleased with our first game. A lot of positives to take from this match, some match fitness and fine tuning and we could be a very dominant team

  • Comment 3, posted at 26.02.13 11:31:16 by juba_fan Reply

  • I know some are going to accuse me of being sour, but never the less, this was posted on the Cheetahs blog, more as a reflective on the Cheetahs performance, rather than a critic of the Sharks fade. Please see it as such.

    • The Sharks were finalists last year, and haven’t lost anything in terms of player resources, but in fact gained players like Franco and Frans Steyn. By comparison the Cheetahs lost WP Nel, Marcel vd Merwe, George Earl, Izak vd Westhuizen, Ashley Johnson, Adriaan Strauss, and Sias Ebersohn. It is arguable if the replacements are like for like.

    • The Sharks had 13 Boks in the match 22, versus the 4 Cheetahs Boks.
    • Combined Super rugby caps for the Sharks was 1 113,versus the 521 Super rugby caps of the Toyota Cheetahs. Six of the Cheetahs players have played in 10 or less Super rugby matches.
    • That 9 Sharks players have played in 60 or more Super rugby matches, versus only 2 (Adriaan Strauss – 73 and Hennie Daniller – 68).

    So the gap in overall experience was massive, and add that to the fact that Goosen and Coenie were decidedly rusty.

    Just saying.

  • Comment 4, posted at 26.02.13 11:32:04 by KingCheetah Reply

  • @KingCheetah (Comment 4) : all of what you say is valid. Reality is, the Cheetahs, on paper, shouldn’t ever come within 25 points of the Sharks. Or any other professional rugby team.

  • Comment 5, posted at 26.02.13 11:51:24 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Poor performance, fullstop. How did the Cheetahs warm-up compare?

    @KingCheetah (Comment 4) :
    I take 2 things from that. Firstly, an admission that the Sharks are a better side. Secondly, that they under-performed.

    I agree on both counts.

    Of course, one shouldn’t conveniently forget the loss of players like Bismark, Daniel and Witkop.

  • Comment 6, posted at 26.02.13 11:52:05 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @KingCheetah (Comment 4) : on the other side of the coin could be at the cheetahs were playing at home,you should never lose your home games.the cheetahs have also played better opposition in their preparation to super rugby.surely they would of come out firing. They would of studied the sharks game plans from last year and exploited weaknesses. They are also playing in super rugby so the excuse of lack of experience is a lame one.they know what they facing and each player knows exactly what is expected of them. I’m starting to believe that the kings won’t be the team ending last this year.

  • Comment 7, posted at 26.02.13 11:52:57 by shaniboi Reply

  • @KingCheetah (Comment 4) : So judging by those stats, maybe the tjietas -and not the Lions- should have been dropped from SR 😈

    At the end of the day, the Sharks have achieved far more with their so-called “Freestate players” than the tjietas ever will.

    Face it, the tjietas problems aren’t with their player personnel but rather their administration. Once the Kings sorted their Administration out (whether we agree with the change or not), they got themselves into SR and ended up winning their first ever SR match.

    I don’t hear them complaining about how they do not have as much money as the bigger unions. 🙄

  • Comment 8, posted at 26.02.13 12:03:11 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • “….but those ascribing to this school of thought will never be short of case studies to substantiate their position, when looking back at the Sharks’ recent history.” this boy can write 😉

  • Comment 9, posted at 26.02.13 12:27:05 by West Indies Cricket Board Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    West Indies Cricket Board
  • @West Indies Cricket Board (Comment 9) : haha – thanks 🙂

  • Comment 10, posted at 26.02.13 12:32:29 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @Big Fish (Comment 6) : Eish! My bad. How could I forget the Bismarck?

    It’s not rocket science, based on experience the Sharks are by far the superior side. So the flip side is the Cheetahs overperformed? 😯

  • Comment 11, posted at 26.02.13 12:44:22 by KingCheetah Reply

  • @shaniboi (Comment 7) : Really, we all know what to expect from a Bulls team as well, that doesn’t make countering it any easier does it now? The Bulls side that beat the Sharks last year was also nowhere near the Sharks in quality, yet the Sharks lost. No excuse I guess huh?

  • Comment 12, posted at 26.02.13 12:46:02 by KingCheetah Reply

  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 8) : That is just daft! The Lions would fare even worse than the Cheetahs (SR caps) Comparing a win against the Force to a los against the Sharks is even worse! Just shows that you rae more intent on being argumentative and trolling than on any constructive debate.
    You should fire yourself!!

  • Comment 13, posted at 26.02.13 12:48:00 by KingCheetah Reply

  • how do you go from a 21-point lead and a possible bonus point victory, to scrambling desperately on your own line to claw out any sort of win at all on 80 minutes?

    Easy. You adopt the same gameplan you’ve opened with for the previous 3 seasons by kicking the ball at the opposition and letting them run at you… 🙄

  • Comment 14, posted at 26.02.13 12:50:43 by klempie Reply

  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 8) : What exactly have the Sharks achieved, despite having a star studded side year after year? Made a couple of playoffs, and a final here or there.

    Bottom line is, you can put a band-aid on and say, ” We have achieved more than the Cheetahs” but fact is, given the Sharks superior team, better administration et all, they have failed to deliver. That after 16 years of Super Rugby participation. The Cheetahs have only really been playing since 2006!

  • Comment 15, posted at 26.02.13 12:51:25 by KingCheetah Reply

  • @KingCheetah (Comment 15) : what is it you want us to say about the sharks? We have a kak team? Our team are chockers? Na we support our team and every year we are optumistic. If we have to have that out then hell i would hate to be a cheetah supporter cause u might as well not watch rugby.

  • Comment 16, posted at 26.02.13 12:59:01 by shaniboi Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 5) : Yet we do, and to illustrate the small margins involved. The Cheetahs lost 7 matches by 7 points or less last year, and ended 10th. The Stormers won 7matches by 7 points or less, and topped the log! Bizarre!

    In addition we lost by 6 points to eventual champs the Chiefs,7 to Crusaders. In fact only the Bulls and Sharks could post significant scores against the Cheetahs.

    So luckily for us, rugby isn’t played on paper huh?

  • Comment 17, posted at 26.02.13 12:59:55 by KingCheetah Reply

  • @shaniboi (Comment 17) : Na we support our team and every year we are optumistic

    Based on the fact that we opened our campaign on Saturday the exact same way we have for the previous three years, I am not. But I did say I will reserve ultimate judgment until week two, so I will not harp on about it just yet.

  • Comment 18, posted at 26.02.13 13:01:29 by klempie Reply

  • @KingCheetah (Comment 15) : Re-read my comments 🙄

    It states that: the Sharks have achieved far more with their so-called “Freestate players” than the tjietas ever will.

    In other words, the Sharks have achieved more with freestate players than freestate ever achieved with freestate players 🙄

    @KingCheetah (Comment 13) : The tjieta supporter hanging around the SHarks supporter site constantly telling Sharks supporters just how much the Sharks always choke and under-perform etc. accusing me of trolling 🙄 😆 🙄

  • Comment 19, posted at 26.02.13 13:13:17 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • @KingCheetah (Comment 18) : Not bizarre at all really. You get way more for a win than a loss no matter the margin. On paper, grass, everywhere. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 20, posted at 26.02.13 13:38:21 by McLovin Reply

  • @juba_fan (Comment 3) : One of their two tries in the final quarter came from a phase of broken play that was initiated by a knock down when we had a definite score on hand. They did spoil quite a bit.

    The blame should be with our team though. They had to know that the only response that the Cheetahs could offer, was to get the game to lose a lot of structure. They were dominated in all the set pieces, so they had to throw the ball around. Pity is that it seemed to surprise our guys when the Cheetahs followed this tactic.

  • Comment 21, posted at 26.02.13 13:49:27 by King Shark Reply
    King Shark
  • @KingCheetah (Comment 15) : Since 2006 Cheetahs supporters have been crying week after week due to the dismal performance of the favoured team. Sharks fans have been crying once per season for the past 16 years.

  • Comment 22, posted at 26.02.13 13:52:50 by King Shark Reply
    King Shark
  • @shaniboi (Comment 16) : Not at all bau, try not be so melodramatic! As I said, it’s just a reflection of where we stand. Sharks were still a tad undercooked, after having only 1 decent practise match., and it was kak hot in Bloem, at altitude to boot. Try be less insecure, I was not dissing the Sharks, was putting a Cheetahs positive spin on it. The article written by a Sharks supporter was questioning the Sharks close win!

  • Comment 23, posted at 26.02.13 13:53:45 by KingCheetah Reply

  • @King Shark (Comment 21) : And so in your opinion Mvovo’s try came from what?

  • Comment 24, posted at 26.02.13 13:55:40 by KingCheetah Reply

  • @KingCheetah (Comment 23) : Don’t worry man, from this weekend onwards we will love the Cheetahs again. Well, until you travel to Durbs – then we’ll hate you again! 😈

  • Comment 25, posted at 26.02.13 13:55:51 by King Shark Reply
    King Shark
  • @King Shark (Comment 22) : Actually not! We can see progress since Toyota came on board. As the author stated, on paper we shouldn’t be a match fro other teams, but we beat some damn fine teams last year, and will do so again. If that floats your boat, no problems at all.

  • Comment 26, posted at 26.02.13 13:57:16 by KingCheetah Reply

  • I think we need to give the Cheetahs more credit. That backline (especially Le Roux, Ebersohn, Goosen, Rhule, Pretorius) is very dangerous especially in broken play. Labuschagne’s try actually came from some decent backline play started from a lineout (if I recall correctly). I think they will give a few more big name teams at least a decent fright.

    Their problem is their set piece going to pieces (excuse the pun). And I think once the injuries kick in they will feel the lack of depth.

  • Comment 27, posted at 26.02.13 14:01:33 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @KingCheetah (Comment 26) : Must admit, you had a good year last year. If you are able to close out those tight games, then there is no reason why you won’t be able to compete for a playoff spot. It has always been a hallmark of the champion teams to grind out the win, even on a bad day – think of the Crusaders and Bulls at the height of their dominance.

    Imagine you had converted those close losses to wins, then you might have been in the playoffs with 59 points – equal with the sharks and bulls.

  • Comment 28, posted at 26.02.13 14:04:47 by King Shark Reply
    King Shark
  • @KingCheetah (Comment 17) : “So luckily for us, rugby isn’t played on paper huh?” so true, and yet you started you chirp on this thread with paper based stats…just saying. 😈

  • Comment 29, posted at 26.02.13 14:13:36 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • @KingCheetah (Comment 26) : what’s this “the author” nonsense? 🙂

  • Comment 30, posted at 26.02.13 14:16:25 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • 👿 officially speaking, I was being poilte! It’s cheetah thing 🙄

  • Comment 31, posted at 26.02.13 14:19:47 by KingCheetah Reply

  • @KingCheetah (Comment 31) : haha… thanks, I think 🙂

  • Comment 32, posted at 26.02.13 14:23:05 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Eish! p o l i t e

  • Comment 33, posted at 26.02.13 14:24:23 by KingCheetah Reply

  • BTW were you at the game?
    What is going on with the FS Stadium pitch, considering that its still the rainy season?

  • Comment 34, posted at 26.02.13 14:30:16 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • I think the way the cheetahs played this weekend compared to the way the bulls and stormers played, thay the cheetahs would have beaten them both.

  • Comment 35, posted at 26.02.13 14:31:04 by juba_fan Reply

  • @Salmonoid (Comment 34) : they’re too bloody skint to afford a training field, hence all training takes place on the main field… no wonder it’s a disaster

  • Comment 36, posted at 26.02.13 14:39:41 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 36) : And the cameraman…hoo boy was he bad, I suppose we cant blame the Cheetahs for that.

  • Comment 37, posted at 26.02.13 14:56:25 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • @Salmonoid (Comment 29) : Eish but you like to nit pick!

  • Comment 38, posted at 26.02.13 15:04:39 by KingCheetah Reply

  • @Bokhoring (Comment 27) : I am seriously worried about that aspect as well. I realise we have lost some good players, and that technically we are rebuilding our scrum, but Saturday was woeful.

    And there isn’t much to get excited by young players either! Schalk vd Merwe was showing promise, but to lose playesr like WP and Marcel was a blow to be honest. Nyakane could still develop.

  • Comment 39, posted at 26.02.13 15:06:52 by KingCheetah Reply

  • @King Shark (Comment 28) : Definately something that we need to work on, is closing out matches. it is extremely frustrating to see a match lost in the dying minutes, and worse is the lapses in concentration, allowing easy scores!

  • Comment 40, posted at 26.02.13 15:08:18 by KingCheetah Reply

  • @KingCheetah (Comment 40) : Wait there, are you a Cheetahs or Sharks supporter?

  • Comment 41, posted at 26.02.13 17:33:23 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • @KingCheetah (Comment 39) : I didnt see the Cheetahs warm up games, they played 3 good opposition sides – how did your scrum fare in those games? If ok then maybe Saturdays was just an off day.

  • Comment 42, posted at 26.02.13 17:35:39 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
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  • @Salmonoid (Comment 37) : we can try…

  • Comment 43, posted at 26.02.13 18:05:00 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @Salmonoid (Comment 42) : No the scrums have been a weakness since the first warmup. We had decent opposition. Lions, then Stormers with mix and match teams, and a final warm up vs the Bulls.

  • Comment 44, posted at 26.02.13 20:07:18 by KingCheetah Reply

  • Lambie was very impressive at 10.

    That’s about it.
    A scrappy win over the Cheetahs who will probably finish around 10th place again, is not good enough. If the Sharks do not up their game considerably by Saturday, they will lose to the Stormers.

  • Comment 45, posted at 27.02.13 04:17:33 by fyndraai Reply
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