ABSA Currie Cup Preview – Round 7

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 18 Sep 2014 at 15:12
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , ,

The Sharks cling to fourth spot on the table, but face a very interesting challenge against the Blue bulls at Loftus this week. With neither team able to afford another loss, it should again be a cracker of a match.

Blue Bulls v Sharks – 5:05pm Saturday in Pretoria

Two teams facing rather similar fates, it would seem, will come up against each other for the first time this Currie Cup season. The Blue Bulls started woefully, battling to get off the foot of the log before a scrappy win over the EP Kings at Loftus gave them some confidence. A big (and rather unexpected) win over the Lions added further to their confidence, with a second win over the Kings last week seeing them now just outside of the top four, with three wins in six starts. They’re a team on the up, results-wise, even if their play does not yet suggest they are ready to count amongst the competition’s top tier.

The Sharks, on the other hand, started out with a trio of wins that many would feel were undeserved, before coming down to earth harshly in the return fixtures. A nightmare fortnight, encompassing losses to the Pumas and Griquas, saw the team slip from second down to fourth and last week’s draw against the Cheetahs did little to help their log position, despite some marked improvements in the standard of their play. Fans are hoping that the Sharks, too, are on an upwards curve, but come the end of 80 minutes at Loftus, any signs of momentum could be well and truly snuffed out, leaving the new coaching team back at square one.

Changes to the teams
We’ve already talked about the Sharks changes and the impact on continuity. The Blue Bulls have also switched a few men around, recalling Rudy Paige and Callie Visagie in unenforced changes, while Wiaan Liebenberg has had to come in at openside flank for the suspended Deon Stegmann. Jono Ross assumes the captaincy from number 8. In the only other backline change, Sampie Mastriet replaces Akona Ndungane at wing, meaning neither brother will be in action at Loftus this weekend.

The loss of Stegmann is perhaps the one that will be most keenly felt, since he is their captain and primary scavenger. Ross did not impress in a leadership role last season and it remains to be seen just how much he has come along in this facet. Visagie over Mbonambi is a strange call, given how good the latter has been when asked to start this year; however, we know that coach Frans Ludeke prefers Visagie’s supposedly stronger set-piece game.

The set piece
We anticipate the Sharks having the slightly stronger scrum, but it’s unlikely to be so dominant as to have a measurable impact on the result. It’s the lineout htat is perhaps more interesting, with Visagie adding as much to the Bulls’ cause as the loss of Lewies detracts from the Sharks’. We expect the hosts to use the lineout as a strong attacking platform, with the bulk of the likes of Paul Willemse used to good effect in the ensuing mauls. How well the Sharks counter this tactic may go some way to determining the result.

Countering the direct threat
The Bulls will play close to the breakdown and will use the likes of Willemse and Dean Greyling to get them over the advantage line. With Sharks halfbacks Hoffmann and Cronje not renowned for their dominant defensive work, this route could result in plenty of gain for the Bulls and you can expect them to favour it all day. Andre Esterhuizen can make a name for himself here and it’s reassuring that the Sharks have his bulk available in that channel; so much will depend on how well the youngster adjusts and take on the responsibility given to him this week.

The breakdown battle
The Sharks actually did a very good job of turning ball over against the Cheetahs and will want to build on that performance, particularly in the absence of a recognised fetcher in the opposing ranks. Dale Chadwick and Kyle Cooper emerged from Bloemfontein as the main pilferers, with Jacques Botes cast in a more supporting role, but the locks and loose forwards will have a huge ask ahead of them this week as they aim to get numbers to the breakdown to counter the momentum on which the Bulls’ game is based.

The high ball
You can, of course, depend on the Bulls using the boot of flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter to create uncertainty in the air. In Bjorn Basson, he has a master chaser at his disposal, but the Sharks are not shy of counter-attacking threats either and it would be nice to see faster and more elusive Sharks back three used to good effect, making the Bulls pay for going to the air too often.

The X-factor
One of the areas that’s most exciting about this fixture is the clash of styles that we typically see, particularly in Currie Cup. The Sharks have more ball players, more men with that elusive “uncoachable” quality and while we’ve not seen too much evidence of that this year, the chance always exists that the likes of a Sithole, Mvovo, Mtembu or Swiel could produce a moment of magic to turn a half-chance into a 70 meter try. The Sharks will need to take full advantage of any such opportunities, because I feel they’re going to come second in terms of the percentage battle. So much will depend on which players pitch up – the switched-on Sharks that know how to win at Loftus, or the bumbling and fumbling crew that we saw in Nelspruit.

As the biggest Sharks supporter on the planet, it breaks my heart to do this, but I’m calling a Bulls win by 5 points. I’m not convinced that there has been quite enough improvement in the Sharks’ game so far to be optimistic about a win at Loftus, where something extra special is a guaranteed requirement. I’d love to be wrong and I’d love to see some good play and a few exciting tries, even if Potgieter’s boot proves instrumental on the day.

Blue Bulls: 15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques Louis Potgieter, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Jono Ross (captain), 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Morné Mellett, 18 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Tian Schoeman, 22 Jesse Kriel.

Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 Sibusiso Sithole, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Conrad Hoffmann, 8 Lubabalo Mtembu (captain), 7 Etienne Oosthuizen, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 JC Astle, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Johan Meyer, 19 Khaya Majola, 20 Cameron Wright, 21 Tim Swiel, 22 Tonderai Chavhanga.

In other games, we expect the Lions to beat the Pumas in a tight game, Western Province to trounce Griquas with a bonus point and – shockingly – the EP Kings to pick up their first win of the season, in a 1-point thriller against the Cheetahs.


  • Rob predicting a Sharks loss 😯

    What is the world coming to?

  • Comment 1, posted at 18.09.14 15:21:50 by Baylion Reply
  • Yeah, next he will be calling 👿 Cheetahs win

  • Comment 2, posted at 18.09.14 15:29:55 by KingCheetah Reply
  • @KingCheetah (Comment 2) : maybe we should go and watch the game “Blue Bulls v Sharks – 5:05pm Saturday in Bloemfontein” could be fun.

  • Comment 3, posted at 18.09.14 16:21:43 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
  • Sharks have been struggling defending mauls. Likewise we are not tackling players backwards, but allowing them to build momentum.

    Bulls will maul all day long, and then unleash their big ball carriers.

    I reckon if we can manage a losing bonus point out of this one, we will do very well.

  • Comment 4, posted at 18.09.14 18:09:26 by Bokhoring Reply
  • What I would like to see is us making better use of our opportunities, and just better handling, decision making and a bit more patience.

  • Comment 5, posted at 18.09.14 18:22:15 by Bokhoring Reply
  • Bulls, Lions, WP, Cheetahs

  • Comment 6, posted at 18.09.14 19:33:04 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • I also feel a win at Loftus is near impossible because the team just ain’t there yet, too many player disruptions for various reasons.

    Again another new Center combo, and even though I agree with the combo and think it could be a great one? it still means they need to get to play together a lot to form a combo.

    Lock and Loose forward positions has been a big factor towards the Sharks struggles this year.

    My feeling is the Sharks coaching staff are missing the plot a bit here by not brining in the Dup brothers to fill the 7 void as it is their natural position, instead we should be building for SR next year, CC is about all but lost right now.

  • Comment 7, posted at 19.09.14 07:59:48 by sharks_lover Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • Sharks, Lions, WP, Cheetahs

  • Comment 8, posted at 19.09.14 08:19:16 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • I went with my heart and said Sharks by 5 lol – oh and Lions, WP and Cheetahs..

  • Comment 9, posted at 19.09.14 08:29:06 by RedSharkUtd82 Reply

  • Ouens I also have a feeling that a win at loftus is too far fetched for us, but fokkit I just could not get it over my heart to back the bulls on bru!
    So I again backed my team by 3!

  • Comment 10, posted at 19.09.14 12:04:11 by R Hayward Reply

  • @Bokhoring (Comment 4) : Im glad u also picked up the tackling players thing. I find its a serious technique error by the Sharks and allows the opposition to maintain momentum as we dont seem to make hits but rather try grab the player and pull them down, so often they get over the advantage line and we get pinned being offside etc.

  • Comment 11, posted at 19.09.14 12:21:36 by SheldonK Reply

  • Look at all these comments and tell me management isn’t busy destroying the franchise. This is a sharks dedicated site. Now tell me to be patient it will all come right in the end for BMH and the others in his clown car. We need a drastic turnaround and it needs to start at the coaching level.

  • Comment 12, posted at 19.09.14 14:21:52 by coolfusion Reply

  • @coolfusion (Comment 12) : Agreed.
    They basically told us they ve given up on the Currie Cup and in stead of staging a protest outside BMH s house we just accepted it.

  • Comment 13, posted at 19.09.14 14:28:00 by Original Pierre Reply
    Original Pierre
  • @coolfusion (Comment 12) : @Original Pierre (Comment 13) : things has only gone down hill this year. Since February the Sharks have played worse and worse and tbe excuses only got better. Only way to see improvement is to watch the games in reverse order back to the Currie cup final of last year!!!!

  • Comment 14, posted at 19.09.14 16:22:13 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
  • HT: Lions 19 (3) – 3 (0) Pumas

  • Comment 15, posted at 19.09.14 20:09:53 by Baylion Reply

  • FT: Lions 29 (4) – 15 (2) Pumas

  • Comment 16, posted at 19.09.14 21:08:55 by Baylion Reply

  • @Baylion (Comment 16) : Great game by the Lions. They are lightyears ahead of the Sharks. That number 10 is quite a find – would pick him over Fred and Tim Swiel any day of the week. And how fast is Kwagga and the hooker???

  • Comment 17, posted at 20.09.14 05:23:59 by MysticShark Reply
    Competition Winner
  • @MysticShark (Comment 17) : Akker had another great game and Jaco has stepped up well into senior rugby.

    The 7s players are making a real difference at the Lions and at WP

  • Comment 18, posted at 20.09.14 07:52:32 by Baylion Reply


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