Sharks have many points to prove

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 13 Sep 2013 at 13:49
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As a team that likes to talk about the “process” they are going through, as they become familiar with a new way of playing under a new coaching team, the Sharks seem to be looking for incremental improvements week on week, rather than attempting to create the “perfect performance” right from the get go. This weekend, against Griquas, there will need to be several such improvements evident if they hope to emerge with the log points they need.

You can slice it any way you want, but the reality is that last week’s forward showing against Western Province simply wasn’t good enough, particularly not in the first half. The game plan that we see evolving under new Director of Rugby Brendan Venter very strongly emphasises “smart rugby”; it’s a game based on territorial dominance via the boot and on attacking in the “sensible half” of the field. As we saw at Newlands, if there are two things that can completely annihilate that plan, then a dominated pack and poor kick execution would certainly fit the bill.

The Sharks were guilty of both last weekend and the spotlight will, this week, be very firmly on the pack – a pack that has struggled to get on top of opposition throughout the first round. That’s understandable, given the loss of an entire Super Rugby set of forwards to either the Boks or injury, but if those “next best” players are to continue to be considered worthy deputies to the Boks – and suitable options at Super Rugby level next year – the time to step up is long overdue. Much of the pre-game hype that I’ve read is looking to young Pieter-Steph du Toit and the impact he’s likely to have on the game. I’m less convinced; a young lock playing in a somewhat unfamiliar jersey, in his first game in three months, is unlikely to be able to change the fortunes of the pack on his own. Any impact that Pieter-Steph does have, I feel, is going to depend on the sort of platform that the other tight forwards are able to provide.

Wiehahn Herbst, Kyle Cooper and Edwin Hewitt added huge intensity when they came on against Province and we will need to see that level of effort, plus an additional 10% right from the start, against Griquas. The Sharks simply cannot afford to concede possession at the set piece and at the breakdown the way they did against Province and with Griquas fetcher Marnus Schoeman an ever-present threat on the ground, the extent to which the tight forwards manage to get themselves to those breakdown points with enough time and using the correct technique, to nullify his threat, will determine the ultimate direction of the game.

The Sharks have been found wanting, too, in defence, particularly against unstructured attack. Turnover ball leads to exactly that and there’s going to have to be a huge emphasis on tightening up the lines and sticking to the structures, as tempting as the “flashy intercept” might be. A guy like SP Marais needs to really come to the party here, after a very iffy display on defence against the unpredictable Province back three.

Even with the forwards being beaten, though, one fancies that Province might not have done quite so well had it not been for some frankly brainless kicking from the Sharks and it’s hear that we perhaps come to the biggest factor – and the most important individual – that may decide whether this game is one or lost. Butch James has not looked the part yet this season and one fancies that he’s the guy, more than any other, who needs to put his hand up the most tomorrow, who needs to show the biggest improvement in his individual contribution in order for the Sharks to taste victory. We’ve seen the sorts of things that James can do with the ball, but we also know that his propensity to over-complicate things when a simple solution would suffice can be costly. It’s time for James to deliver the sort of commanding performance to emphasise why Fred Zeilinga is his understudy in this team and not vice versa.


  • Amen!

  • Comment 1, posted at 13.09.13 14:22:49 by R Hayward Reply
  • questions I have…

    1) Can Wiehahn Herbst put in a solid 80 minutes performance without letting the work rate slip? Is he going to be able to deal with Roberts at scrum time?
    2) Mienie and Chadwick will probably have 40 minutes each. That should hopefully see them do a joint number on the weaker side of the Kwas scrum (without Adriaanse there). Can Chadwick prove an effective impact sub, though?
    3) What’s Hadebe going to be like? His biggest game in absolute ages….
    4) Is our light loose trio going to come back to bite us? We’re not exactly playing to our strengths here.
    5) Will we actually managed to get enough ball to Mvovo to use him effectively this week?

  • Comment 2, posted at 13.09.13 15:31:28 by robdylan Reply
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  • The most important question is: will Sharks make history by losing both Currie Cup games against GW?!?!?! Did any other “top” side (e.g. Wp, Bulls, etc) lose both games in a season against GW since pro rugby started?!?!?!?!

  • Comment 3, posted at 13.09.13 16:14:52 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
  • @JD (Comment 3) : well, I was hoping for a slightly deeper level of analysis than that šŸ™‚

  • Comment 4, posted at 13.09.13 16:22:14 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 4) : Analyse what,great summation,you hit the nail very sorely on the head

  • Comment 5, posted at 13.09.13 16:32:03 by benji Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 2) : Herbst is in for a hellva game. I guess not as tough as Chadwick had it against Adriaanse in the first game. So happy that Adriaanse is joining us next season.

    I’m sure Chadwick is chomping on the bit to get stuck in again after a deserved rest. Hoping to see some explosiveness from him as a sub as he previous outings have been marathons.

    Monde, well I have no idea what to expect. Fingered crossed he grabs the opportunity and most importantly hits our jumpers.

    Light loose trio is my biggest worry. Rate Daniels and Botes so highly but just not when both are on the field. It’s like they cancel eachother out. Deysel is going to be marked man for gang tackles again. Hopefully some more offloads and passing from the big man to keep the Kwas guessing.

    Mvovo to get the ball this weekend after the forwards get tired of rucks on the close-to-concrete field. šŸ™‚

  • Comment 6, posted at 13.09.13 17:13:56 by gregkaos Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 4) : Sorry to disapoint you sir, but seems as if Griquas did it in 2012 to the Lions, so at least Sharks would not be their first if it happens. Hope I’m wrong but I have a sinking feeling for the game. šŸ˜„ Go Sharks show me I don’t know anything about rugby!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment 7, posted at 13.09.13 18:54:39 by JD Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 2) : thought the “weaker side of the scrum” did exceptionally well in destroying Kitchoff in Griquas Province game!! šŸ˜Æ šŸ˜Æ

  • Comment 8, posted at 14.09.13 10:49:33 by kagun Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 2) : Hey Rob, (unrelated) are you a Sky user? If yes, do you know if the game is on red button?

  • Comment 9, posted at 14.09.13 13:19:30 by David12246 Reply

  • @David12246 (Comment 9) : I am and I don’t think it is šŸ™

  • Comment 10, posted at 14.09.13 13:22:13 by robdylan Reply
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