The road gets steeper from here

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 3 Apr 2014 at 09:49
Tagged with : , , , , , , , ,

Looking back at the Cell C Sharks’ season to date, I’m left feeling that they’re a bit like a matric pupil who has aced their preliminary exams; impressive, but certainly not in a position where they’ve actually achieved much of anything yet.

There are a lot of pithy sayings; you can only play what’s in front of you, you’ve got to bank the points at home while you can, you can’t score tries in Durban in summer and so on. None of those really mean a lot – the fact is, the Sharks have been simply great so far this year, despite one rather unfortunate performance away from home (which ended up being far closer on the scoreboard than the play would have suggested). Of a possible total of 30 points from their six matches to date, they’ve banked 23 and are comfortably 6 points ahead of nearest rivals the Chiefs, who do admittedly have a game in hand.

Apart from that Loftus defeat, the Sharks’ smallest winning margin so far has been 14 points. They have conceded the fewest tries in the competition and also boast a points difference that is streets ahead of anyone else’s. One can bemoan a lack of bonus points (only 2 from 5 home wins) if you want to, but apart from that (and Loftus) there’s really very little cause for concern for Sharks fans.

BUT (and there’s always one) we would be naive if we didn’t factor in the draw. Looking at this from a contrary position, all that the Sharks have really done so far is win five home matches, which is kind of what you’d expect a good team to do. Casting your eye down the results list, you’ll notice that you can count away wins this year on just slightly over one hand and the inevitable conclusion is that the Sharks’ current lofty log position is probably somewhat skewed by the fact that they’ve yet to really leave Kings Park. I mean, they’ve only had to do so once and when they did, they lost.

There’s plenty of food for thought there… and perhaps it’s the reasons why the Sharks fans I know (having read this scripts before) are tending more towards “cautiously optimistic” than outright “we are the champions”-style swagger. It’s fortunate in a way that the next set of matches represents a very real opportunity to pick up three more wins before the real slog starts – an overseas tour in a year where no side has yet managed to notch up a win after crossing the Indian Ocean.

That’s still rather far off, though. For the Sharks, there’s a more immediate and non-negotiable goal. In fact, even the home matches to come against the Cheetahs and Highlanders are of little importance as the Sharks face their next challenge. They play at Ellis Park next week and simply have to show everyone in this competition that they are capable of getting a result away from the Kings Park fortress that to date boasts the enviable record of not having yielded up so much as a solitary log point to any opposition team.

I’d go so far as to say that if the Sharks can’t win at Ellis Park next week, they won’t win Super Rugby. Let’s see how that prediction pans out.


  • I really am nervous about our away games coming up especially as we are running out of home games.

  • Comment 1, posted at 03.04.14 10:00:34 by Son Of Mayhem Reply
    Competition WinnerCompetition WinnerCompetition Winner
  • My sentiments exactly Rob.

  • Comment 2, posted at 03.04.14 10:08:06 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • I fear the trend of no teams crossing the Indian Ocean and winning will change. I can’t see the Cheetahs beating the Chiefs and the Stormers will have to up their game considerably if they want to beat the Tahs.

    The Lions might just be able beat the Saders this weekend.

  • Comment 3, posted at 03.04.14 10:10:43 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • Nervous about the long haul before they get their next rest period.

    Let’s hope it aids continuity instead of fatigue. And let’s hope they don’t try to pace themselves against perceived lesser teams.

  • Comment 4, posted at 03.04.14 10:11:08 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • Something I noticed after the stiff-arm tackle on FS last Saturday was that it seemed to raise the intensity within the whole team; once the Sharks start playing with fire and passion they become a very difficult, maybe almost impossible team to beat. If it takes more niggle to bring out that ruthless streak then I’m all for it! 😈 When the Sharks play with passion and commitment as they did against the ‘Tahs it’s maybe only the Chiefs who can live with us, and I’d back the boys in a home final against anyone 😀

  • Comment 5, posted at 03.04.14 10:21:04 by Greg Reply

  • First step to success is to finish at the top of your conference. The next 2 SA teams (Lions, Bulls) are 7 points adrift and both still needs to tour as well. The Stormers need to make up 17 log points just to level with the Sharks, so things will need to go badly wrong for the Sharks for them to catch up. A place is the playoffs is very likely for the Sharks this year. Unless the wheels really fall off, they have a good chance of leading the SA conference too.

    The next hurdle is to be in the top two on the log. There the Chiefs have me the most concerned. They will most likely pick up 5 points against the Cheetahs – so come next weekend the Sharks will only have a 1 point lead on them.

  • Comment 6, posted at 03.04.14 10:26:40 by Bokhoring Reply
  • That’s some bold prediction there Rob!!! But I also have that feeling… also moerse proud record not to give any log points away to any opposition at home!!! Wow did not notice that 1!

  • Comment 7, posted at 03.04.14 11:32:45 by R Hayward Reply

  • Great piece Rob and I agree with just about everything aside from your final prediction. In saying that, it’s a nice setup for some lively debate.

    In taking into consideration how well most teams seems to perform at home this year, I’m of the opinion it’s a loss we certainly don’t want but could probably afford. We don’t need to win all our away fixtures, we just need to win more of them than the other contenders do. I think even the tops teams are going to struggle to collect as many away wins as they would have in the past.

  • Comment 8, posted at 03.04.14 11:51:19 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • Personally, I don’t see us losing to the Lions next weekend. We’re coming off a bye and they would have just played the crusaders. The bulls game was an illustration as to the advantage that the bye week gives a team.

    As for the prediction: We probably have one of the easiest tours in a while: Rebels, Brumbies, Crusaders and Blues. The brumbies and Crusaders have pretty hard away games with travel the week before so the Blues will probably be our hardest game on tour.

    for me, Our surge at the end will depend on the form the stormers are in and the number of injuries we pick up. A desparate stormers team with few injuries with a must win game for us will be hard to beat at Newlands.

  • Comment 9, posted at 03.04.14 12:26:23 by byron Reply

  • I agree Rob,spot on

  • Comment 10, posted at 03.04.14 12:39:59 by benji Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • My thoughts too Rob. I feel that if we beat the Lions and get some “away win confidence” the tour will go better.

  • Comment 11, posted at 03.04.14 14:09:29 by Southern_Shark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • Rob I think you have given an admirable summary as to where the Sharks are. They would never have lost to the Bulls had Lambie and Reinach not gone out in the very beginning of that game. That threw the Sharks seeing as all the plans Jake had made were built around Lambie. So they must now all front up. Zeilinger is a very good replacement for Lambie. So they need not have too many excuses. GO SHARKS!!!

  • Comment 12, posted at 03.04.14 19:49:13 by [email protected] Reply

  • Ja I hope they enjoy the rest but after this weekend the real hard graft starts. It’s going to be tough but I’m sure they can do it. Go Sharks! !!!!!!

  • Comment 13, posted at 03.04.14 22:32:26 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
  • Just enjoying game by game and thus not creating any expectations. Luckily the Liverpool “run to the BPL #1” is keeping my nerves very busy

  • Comment 14, posted at 04.04.14 07:55:17 by catfish Reply
  • @catfish (Comment 14) : man, you must be in pieces…. trying to predict which side is going to choke first 🙁

  • Comment 15, posted at 04.04.14 08:33:08 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 15) : Was totally happy just gunning for Champions League spot… 😯 and now this..

    Luckily the Proteas will bury the ckokers tag today! Go Boys! Its #millertime Proteas, Liverpool, Sharks…awesome treble!

  • Comment 16, posted at 04.04.14 08:47:59 by catfish Reply

Add Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.