Coincidence? I think not!

Written by Andrew Woodgate (woody)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Reader Submissions, Sharks on 22 Oct 2013 at 15:03
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

It is time that the Sharks move away from completely relying on a player like Jean Deysel or Willem Alberts to dominate the advantage line because against a good defence like Province’s they cannot regularly get the required go forward to get enough momentum to attack off of.

It is not a coincidence that the Sharks only really kicked into gear this weekend when Jacques Botes came on. Moves stopped ending with Deysel because Botes would either run into space rather than into somebody or he would pass/offload. Having a tactic of bashing it up in the first channel by Deysel or Alberts just means that there are more rucks and therefore more opportunities for the opposition to steal the ball. We saw much less of Boom Prinsloo stealing ball once Deysel went off. This was not because our cleaning of rucks was any better but rather that moves lasted longer and there were fewer rucks. This weekend’s game showed that having a player who runs into space and who passes/offloads is better than a player who simply runs straight into contact.

Now I’m not knocking Deysel or Alberts as I am a big fan of both of them but I believe that they are being over utilized as ball carriers when they could be used more often to clean out at rucks.

Botes is very good in the above mentioned capacity, but Tera Mtembu is even better. Our standout performances this season were against the Cheetahs and Lions. It is no coincidence that Tera started both of these games. He runs into space and is very good at offloading the ball in contact and creating space for others. He is also a smart player and does the basics very well. Arguably our best performance in Super Rugby this year came against the Chiefs and, again, it was no coincidence that he started that game. He stood out in that game and made a huge difference to the Sharks team.

Since the Lions game 3 weeks ago he has not featured at all and the Sharks have not looked as good a side, especially on attack, in the games against the Bulls, Province and Cheetahs respectively.

The way to break down Province’s defence is not by having Deysel or Alberts smash into defenders in the first channel because they will be stopped by gang tackles by the Province players, and guys like Deon Fourie and Duane Vermuelen will steal the ball on the ground. The way to break down their defence is by running into space and offloading the ball in contact. And that is why I believe that our best loose forward combo for this game is Keegan, Marcell and Tera, leaving Deysel/Alberts on the bench as an impact player where they are both very effective.


  • The problem is not that the move dies with Deysel/Alberts. It’s more a case of everyone expecting them to break the first tackle. Having Deysel/Alberts running onto to the ball, means that you are taking out 3-4 players out of the defensive line. But for that to be effective enough to exploit, the two of them must have another forward running about half a step behind them, purely with the intention that when the bulldozers get gang tackled, to immediately be there to clean and provide enough resistance for an extra player and or the scrummie to reach the ruck.

  • Comment 1, posted at 22.10.13 15:12:48 by KingRiaan Reply
  • Very good article. Something to think about… Maybe time to change things a bit and try get a better variety in our game and this isn’t with only the Sharks but with the Bokke aswell. We do need the ball carriers to go forward and suck in defense but do we not over utilise it?

  • Comment 2, posted at 22.10.13 15:28:14 by Chaldyzlabu Reply
  • Nice article. Fully agree about the one dimensional part. WP have a superb defence and you need variation to beat that.

  • Comment 3, posted at 22.10.13 15:30:30 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • Until forwards start running off the shoulder of the flyhalf we will become predictable and easy turnover targets. Run off the flyhalf…forwards running flat and backs running in depth. Thats how you disorganise defenses and create space. But until that happes get used to channel one static runners. And the day Bismarck actually runs onto the ball would be great!

  • Comment 4, posted at 22.10.13 15:50:01 by SheldonK Reply

  • Very good article!!!

    Wie gaan dit vir die coaching staff email?

    I would, but I do not have a email address!

    hehehehe 🙂

  • Comment 5, posted at 22.10.13 15:58:19 by capesharks Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 4) : That is one of my biggest gripes I have. Forwards are receiving the ball standing still and try to bash their way through with only a meter or so to try and pick up momentum. Imagine Bissie, Alberts, Deysel or Beast taking the ball at pace and running at the static defensive line.

  • Comment 6, posted at 22.10.13 15:59:04 by KingRiaan Reply

  • Alberts, Deysel and Coetzee must also learn to vary their game. A pass from one of them can create havoc as no one will be expecting it. Not even our own players 😯

  • Comment 7, posted at 22.10.13 16:01:35 by KingRiaan Reply

  • Nice article, was thinking the exact same thing on Saturday.

  • Comment 8, posted at 22.10.13 16:04:35 by John Galt Reply

    John Galt
  • I don’t think it’s Tera specifically that made a difference in those games, although I do rate him as a player, I think it is the combination of the loose trio and the variety of player that makes a difference. Alberst, Deysel and Marcell are very much alike in how they play, as well as Keegan to an extent, because he tends do stay away from cleaning, while relishing ball in hand stuff. Keegan passes more, since he can’t afford to just run at the defense with his physique, but you will very rarely see any of these players running and receiving passes of the shoulders of another player, forward or back. They will anticipate the tackle and move back (away from the ball) preparing for the next phase of attack. You expect this of some players, but some players needs to take the responsibility of playing to the ball, so either you’re there for an offload, or you are there as the man goes to ground to protect the ball. Both Botes and Tera falls into this last category.

  • Comment 9, posted at 22.10.13 16:09:32 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Letgo (Comment 9) : That’s true, one of Botes’ biggest strengths is his ability to run of the shoulder of the ball carrier. Scored most of his tries like that.

  • Comment 10, posted at 22.10.13 16:15:28 by KingRiaan Reply

  • @KingRiaan (Comment 10) : It’s a little surprising to me that Keegan can’t adapt this tactic, he’s small and quick and could easily get to the contact points for an offload out of a tackle.

    How often do you see Keegan walking back from the wing or somewhere in the backline after a move has ended though? Of topic, but same applies to Adriaan Struass, I rate the guy as a player, but don’t like never seeing a hooker near the contact points.

  • Comment 11, posted at 22.10.13 16:18:30 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • In my honest opinion, I don’t think Keegan Daniel should be our starting side this weekend (would not have said that a year ago). Not with the bone collected back and Botes being in great form. My loosies will be 6. Botes 7. Marcell 8. Alberts with Deysel on the bench. How do you leave out your captain for a final? Tough choice.

  • Comment 12, posted at 22.10.13 16:57:13 by Bite me Reply

    Bite me
  • @Letgo (Comment 11) : Botes has knack for being in the right place a lot of time. I wish he could teach that skill to all our other loosies.

  • Comment 13, posted at 22.10.13 17:07:59 by Bokhoring Reply
  • Dont go upright into contact,turn and present ball to support player (create mini-mauls of 3/4 players)?
    Test kolbe in the air with high-kicks?although should be spot-on in execution since wp is dangerous at counter-attacking.
    Someone mentioned psdt as option at 7 ..would give us 3(or 4 counting keegan),as line-out options.
    Odwa and sp marais to swop positions?
    Sharks scrum must dominate:not achieve parity nor upper-hand but dominate.crucial.
    And then line-out must win their throw-ins.

  • Comment 14, posted at 22.10.13 17:13:38 by 50shadesofblackandwhite Reply

  • @50shadesofblackandwhite (Comment 14) : sharks must secure sharks line-out ball

  • Comment 15, posted at 22.10.13 17:15:12 by 50shadesofblackandwhite Reply

  • You will only break WP’s defense if you break their defensive line and force them to scramble. That is more often done by clever play than by brute force.

    WP is praying Alberts and Deysel take them on, that is what they prepare for.

  • Comment 16, posted at 22.10.13 18:06:31 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 16) : yip. And i think they both will be ready.

  • Comment 17, posted at 22.10.13 18:24:43 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • It was scary how the whole pack blossomed when Botes came on, the whole game changed amongst the pack. Suddenly Marcell was a power, Keegan was influential, the tight forwards got stuck in. It’s obvious Marcell makes more meters when bulldozing than Deysel, maybe he runs for the gap while Jean runs for the man. How often do you see Marell making meters with 2 or 3 tacklers hanging on. Deysel on the other hand hits the first tackler and goes down. I don’t think anyone realises the work Botes does to make everyone else look good.

  • Comment 18, posted at 22.10.13 18:39:23 by markp Reply

  • Sharks need to mix it up a bit on attack. Don’t overdo the pick and drive. Passing into the gap for a support runner coming at speed.
    More little kicks from Lambie over the line.

  • Comment 19, posted at 22.10.13 19:02:12 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @markp (Comment 18) : Mark I agree and also disagree, my reason being.

    We all tend to focus on one player which is not the right thing to do, Actually Deysel has had a very good season.

    Problem is in the games we lost we got whipped up front and in the lineouts.

    Lets go take a look at the loss against WP? there we got whipped in the lineouts and so too the Scrums, That means your forwards are always on the back foot, If we can get parity in those 2 plays we will be ok.

    Problem here is if you play a loose trio of Botes Daniel and Coetzee you are in for a hiding bar none in the scrums, The lineouts we have 2 very young locks and also they are not the strongest behind the front row.

    This is why I for one would go with a stronger loose trio to strengthen the scrums, will it take away a bit of the flair? YES

    08 Coetzee
    07 Alberts
    06 Botes

    In the scrums it will depend on it being an attacking scrum or defensive scrum! the loose trio can swop around when packing down.

    For locks I would shift PSDT to 4 and start with Lewies at 5, this will help come lineout time. But I still see a problem there.

    Bering a final I feel the Sharks must play more with the forwards and keep the ball in hand, make the WP do all the playing, We must play in their half and suck in their defenders.

    We have the bigger kickers Pat, Steyn, Mcleod, Ludik, SP Marais.

    I would also contemplate Ludik at 15 and not SP even though Sp is an exciting talent, he has made some silly mistakes which proved costly, Ludik is more level headed and solid as a FB, thus move Whitehead to 13 to partner Fransie.

  • Comment 20, posted at 22.10.13 19:02:42 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @Morné (Comment 16) : Exactly my point, Sharks should be keeping the ball in hand and turning the WP defensive line around, little kicks etc

    WP won the last game when the Sharks tried to run everything, at the breakdown points Duanne then made merry.

    Also the fact that the Sharks missed many kicks at goal. 19 points in fact lost.

  • Comment 21, posted at 22.10.13 19:08:16 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • Sharks need to cut the error rate big time. therein lies the answer.

  • Comment 22, posted at 22.10.13 19:09:07 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • I would start alberts at 4 this weekend with dysel at 7 marcel at 6 and daniels at 8. We need intensity at the ruck to negate wp fetchers. Botes on the bench for the second half. Historically this has been the sharks most successful stratergy against wp. Go back 3 or 4 seasons and you will see … big pack … put pressure on the scrumhalf and province look quite beatable

  • Comment 23, posted at 22.10.13 19:34:53 by byron Reply

  • @byron (Comment 23) : Also as good option

  • Comment 24, posted at 22.10.13 20:12:15 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @byron (Comment 23) : I think I like that idea too.

  • Comment 25, posted at 22.10.13 20:38:51 by Talent Reply
  • Playing Alberts at 4 will weaken Sharks line-out. I think best team will be: 4 Peet, 5 Lewies, 6 Marcell, 7 PSDT and 8 Keegan. Botes and Deysel on bench. This will strengthen the line-out without weakening the rest.

  • Comment 26, posted at 22.10.13 20:43:25 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
  • @byron (Comment 23) : Go back 3 or 4 seasons and we had Kanko at 8 and Keegan/Botes at 6 with Deysel/Alberts at 7…while Kanko is a big guy it is essentially a similar trio to the one mentioned in the article…so I think you are missing a beat there…I would conisder Alberts/Deysel at 7 to add grunt. True what @woody says in the article. Tera/Marcell/Keegan would provide excellent mobility around the park without sacrificing to much bulk
    6. Botes/Tera
    7. Coetzee/Deysel/Alberts
    8. Daniel

  • Comment 27, posted at 23.10.13 05:21:35 by pienaar111 Reply

  • Excellent article @woody!!!

    Always got to balance bulk with mobility, but with Tera there, who is not particularly small, and 1 of Deysel/Albers/Coetzee at 7 you wont lose to much bulk.

    All we need now is Kanko at #8!!! More speed,more strength!!!

  • Comment 28, posted at 23.10.13 05:34:16 by pienaar111 Reply

  • I agree with this article 100%. Perhaps the coaches must sometimes listen to us fans. Please let Botes play. Both Alberts and deysel come back from injury and I find the first game they are a bit reluctant to go into contact and held back a bit, especially Alberts that wants to be ready for the Boks.

  • Comment 29, posted at 23.10.13 09:21:42 by Stef Reply

  • Good thought provoking article Woody, hope to see more from you in the future.
    Like you, I also rate Alberts and Deysel as strong ball carriers, I just wish they weren’t so predictable as it makes them easy to gang tackle.
    Having 2 big ball carriers like these available for selection it must be very difficult for the coaches not to select both of them, but I would also start with a back three of Marcel, Keegan and Tera/Botes, with either Alberts or Deysel on the bench.

  • Comment 30, posted at 23.10.13 10:05:34 by jonnow Reply

  • I want Alberts in the team from a defensive point of view. Duane and Eben will be crashing the ball up for WP and we need someone like Alberts who is about the only one who is capable of stopping them dead in their tracks. If those two are regularly able to break the gainline we will be in trouble.

  • Comment 31, posted at 23.10.13 10:39:09 by gregkaos Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • Good article and valid points.

    I do think you’re overlooking something though – to win the Sharks need to score points, but they also need to defend.
    Concentrating on one aspect only is insufficient. So what if the Sharks are able to score an extra try or two with Botes on the field; if they concede ground in the rucks and mauls and WP score twice or thrice back, then its all for nothing.

    Defence wins finals.

  • Comment 32, posted at 23.10.13 11:34:48 by VinChainSaw Reply
  • @VinChainSaw (Comment 32) : The balance between the two wins finals…2010 we scored 3 and restricted them to 1!!!

  • Comment 33, posted at 23.10.13 13:03:15 by pienaar111 Reply


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