Sharks dig deep despite disruptions

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 18 Mar 2014 at 10:16
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Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby Jake White has praised his team for the manner in which they overcame disruptions during last week’s build-up to record an ultimately convincing win over former Super Rugby champions the Reds.

Reading between the lines, it seems as though the shock waves that rippled through the fan base as first Paul Jordaan and then later Pieter-Steph du Toit were confirmed as knee injury victims were felt far more keenly still within the camp. I’m not quite sure exactly what the circumstances were leading up to du Toit’s injury, in particular, but there seemed, to me at least, to some sort of a pallour hanging over the team as they played on Saturday, suggesting that the harsh reality of life as a professional sportsman has affected each one of them in a very personal way just days before the game.

Not that the Sharks necessarily looked like a disrupted team, though. The new men to come in – particularly lock Stephan Lewies and centre S’bura Sithole, who were each starting for the first time at this level – acquitted themselves well and the team hardly seemed to lack cohesion. Certainly, for the first 35 minutes or so the Sharks went about their business in a thoroughly organised and professional, if perhaps somewhat dispirited, fashion and any lack of adventure on attack could, I’m sure, be marked down to the unfavourable conditions. The half-time statistics showed that the Sharks had committed only a single handling error to the Reds’ five, a pretty clear indication that the right approach was selected for the day, regardless of the lack of tries inherent to that style of play.

What happened after that, though, is anyone’s guess. White has stopped short of publicly admitting that the players went to sleep, but for the fourth time in as many matches, the rampant Sharks allowed themselves a “quiet quarter”, suffering from a drop in intensity and precision that opened the door just wide enough for their opponents to force a foot through. We all know just how tight the margins can be at this level of the game; a 15 or 20 point lead is not one you can really afford to defend against any team in Super Rugby, as we saw on Saturday. Two quick tries were all it took for half-time’s assured win to turn into a mad scramble with 20 minutes to play.

I can only speak for myself here, but I find myself very much in two minds about what I saw. While I’m obviously thrilled at the string of results, it does concern me that the Sharks are repeatedly suffering from these extended soft periods, periods where discipline falters, execution standards drop off and attitude seems poor. We can hardly bemoan a lack of desire to win, though, since the team has not (yet) failed to recover sufficiently to secure the points, but the perfectionist in me does wonder what kinds of scores could have been achieved had we seen 80 minute performances – particularly against the Hurricanes and Reds, where bonus points really should have been secured given the big half-time margins.

That said, when staking up the positives, you can understand this is really only a minor consideration – and why White simply has no justification or need to heap anything but praise on his team (at least publicly). Perhaps we need to be careful of over-analysis here; these boys are only human at the end of the day and were dealt a couple of big blows during the week as they saw close friends lost to injury and bereavement. They found a way to put that behind them and beat a top side by a margin of 15 points, in the Durban humidity. That’s a result that’s good enough for the coaches and should, I think, be good enough for the fans.


  • I dont know why I have such an uneasy feeling about this Bulls match…

  • Comment 1, posted at 18.03.14 10:25:09 by West Indies Cricket Board Reply
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    West Indies Cricket Board
  • Nicely said B-)

  • Comment 2, posted at 18.03.14 10:29:55 by Son Of Mayhem Reply
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  • @West Indies Cricket Board (Comment 1) : I think it’s completely natural and normal that we should feel uneasy against it.

    Our first away game, against a team who are rested and have been playing quite well. It’s a big challenge and there’s absolutely no reason we should expect to win there as a matter of course.

  • Comment 3, posted at 18.03.14 10:38:35 by robdylan Reply
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  • I think we as supporters have high expectations, but we also forget or misjudge exactly what humidity does to you after 40minutes of hard labour in such conditions.

  • Comment 4, posted at 18.03.14 10:43:02 by bokbok Reply

  • Me too. Since bringing in JLP as 10, the whole team has shifted up a gear or more. He’s calmed things down and is pretty deadly with the boot. Would rather face a Bulls outfit with Fouche at 10!!

  • Comment 5, posted at 18.03.14 10:44:30 by Caratacus Reply

  • I think the article succinctly describes what a lot of us fans are experiencing Rob. I’d love to know how much of an influence the humidity has on our ‘quiet quarters’. There may be a case to be made that visiting teams, possibly shocked by the humidity, experience their quiet quarters during the first half while the Sharks who are a little more used to the conditions, go to sleep a little later on.

  • Comment 6, posted at 18.03.14 10:48:02 by vanmartin Reply
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  • Anybody watch Robert Du Preez’s superb game at 10 for maties last night?Is he still under contract with the sharks?likewise Guy Alexander who is playing for Ikeys?

  • Comment 7, posted at 18.03.14 10:54:29 by Bok-Clyde-Kiwi Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 3) : I think there’s also a feeling that we’ve had our fair share of luck thus far and, when it eventually runs out, a concern about how we will manage.

    To remove any doubts we’ll have to beat the Bulls convincingly on a dry field by creating tries and other scoring opportunities – not simply relying on the bounce of the ball and opposition errors.

  • Comment 8, posted at 18.03.14 10:57:00 by rhineshark Reply
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  • I have a feeling our second row is going to come up short in the physical department.They have 3 big bruiser locks and we dont realy have one.The thing about the bulls at loftus is they become even more physical and agressive.We will have to outsmart them and not try to outmuscle them only.

  • Comment 9, posted at 18.03.14 11:09:51 by tigershark Reply

  • @Bok-Clyde-Kiwi (Comment 7) : Rob is still with us – just on loan to Maties.

    Guy is not – he’s a free agent.

  • Comment 10, posted at 18.03.14 11:12:33 by robdylan Reply
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  • I am trying to calm all my Sharks friends. SR is not won in Feb and especially not against a weak Bulls and Canes team. We are well coached, but the stuff in the head takes more time… There are plenty cobwebs from prev era. I do believe and am full of passion, but somehow think it will only be 2016. Saturday will however give us a peak into the crytal ball of the mighty Black and White

  • Comment 11, posted at 18.03.14 11:44:01 by catfish Reply
  • Great balanced article sir Rob. In life there is no guarantees but you can hedge risks. Our hedge is we have the CEO,COACH,CAPTAIN,SQUAD,SPONSORS, very passionate and sometimes unnecessarily critical supporters. In the eyes of fans and enemies a coach will always be in the firing line. Nature of the job. Sustainable results are the only thing that will make all stakeholders happy. Most of the people mentioned above are new. Let us all give them some time and support them. GO SHARKS MACHINE !!!!!!!

  • Comment 12, posted at 18.03.14 11:44:19 by Observer Reply

  • Robert du Preez had a good game but he is still learning the trade. Please do not push him to fast. That breaks these younsters. We are blessed with a great second fly half in Fred Zelinga and even Frans can step in. 😆

  • Comment 13, posted at 18.03.14 11:46:48 by Observer Reply

  • @Observer (Comment 12) : thank you sir! Keep the faith, we’re a work in progress, but no cause for alarm just yet.

  • Comment 14, posted at 18.03.14 12:01:41 by robdylan Reply
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  • It certainly is a concern that they seem to lose focus at times but as mentioned in the article their ability to snap out of it and pull through has been encouraging. If you all recall, back in the late 90’s or was it the early 2000’s they suffered from a similar affliction so it’s not a new thing. However if memory serves me correctly they used to only wake up in 2nd half, perhaps Sheryl Calder (sp) needs to spend more time with the boys?

  • Comment 15, posted at 18.03.14 12:06:23 by Jacques Venter Reply

  • @Jacques Venter (Comment 15) : na, not her bag. She’s working on vision, not on toughness.

  • Comment 16, posted at 18.03.14 12:09:48 by robdylan Reply
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  • If you mean mental toughness then I would think she’d have some valuable input, to me it seems more of a case of losing focus, losing the vision of what they’re trying to achieve.

  • Comment 17, posted at 18.03.14 12:14:29 by Jacques Venter Reply

  • Nice article Bertie.

    We have some improvement areas, but the Crusaders and Blues have demonstrated many times that starting slow is much better than peaking too early.

  • Comment 18, posted at 18.03.14 13:03:45 by Big Fish Reply
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  • @Big Fish (Comment 18) : enkosi, uFeesh

  • Comment 19, posted at 18.03.14 13:13:37 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 10) : thanks for clearing that up

  • Comment 20, posted at 18.03.14 13:33:02 by Bok-Clyde-Kiwi Reply

  • @Observer (Comment 13) : I’m more worried about losing rob du preez in the next few seasons as we have zeilinga, lambie and swiel at 10 now

  • Comment 21, posted at 18.03.14 13:35:20 by Bok-Clyde-Kiwi Reply

  • @Bok-Clyde-Kiwi (Comment 21) : well, that is a worry, but seriously, how are we going to keep him along with Lambie, Swiel, Zeilinga and Jean-Luc du Plessis?

  • Comment 22, posted at 18.03.14 13:57:26 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 22) : We cant keep everyone. I dont think Swiel will be here for a long time though, dont be surprised if he goes next year. Jean Luc is a baby still so will have to bide his time. But yes Rob DuPreez may move on, it just happens that way- look at Marnitz Boschoff

  • Comment 23, posted at 18.03.14 14:11:55 by SheldonK Reply


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