ABSA Currie Cup Preview – Round 9

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Lions, Original Content, Sharks on 2 Oct 2014 at 11:31
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

The Sharks have saved the best for last this Currie Cup – the best opposition, that is. With a few unfortunate slips against smaller teams, the Durbanites have it all to do in the last two weeks against the form sides in the competition.

Sharks v Lions – 7:10pm Friday in Durban

There’s no beating around the bush here – the Sharks are well up against it this week. Last week’s cake walk over the EP Kings may have given them some confidence as well as ironed out some of the wrinkle in an attacking game that has looked limp for much of the campaign, but if anyone in the camp thinks that the same sort of performance will translate into points against the Lions, they need to invest in a good few sessions on the couch. To quote Helgaard Muller, this week’s challenge is like “hubcaps from a different valiant” and the in-form Lions will test the Sharks in every possible facet and ruthlessly expose anything that’s not executed to perfection.

What’s so good about the Lions anyway?
Let’s allow this piece to run to hyperbole for a little bit. The answer is, pretty much, “everything”. Ackermann’s team is well-coached, multi-faceted and clear in their purpose. They boast a strong and accurate set piece (with their scrum in particular a potent weapon). Their attacking game is based on quick ruck ball and continuity, with superb interlinking between forwards and backs (and few individual errors) often resulting in tries off even the tiniest of opposition mistakes. Add to that the extra whammy of the return of Marnitz Boshoff, an intelligent flyhalf with an educated boot who is versatile enough to play a conservative game too, if required. Let’s not forget that he tends to kick penalties from pretty much anywhere on the field and also has a mean record when it comes to drop goals. All-in-all, it’s not looking so good for our heroes.

Is there anything they don’t do well, though?
There is a little hope, though. The Lions are perhaps not the best of defenders at times, with Stokkies Hanekom, in particular, prone to the odd slipped tackle. They’re also penalised at the breakdown at times and have conceded more penalties than they’d like at the scrum, despite usually appearing dominant. There’s also the loss of Warren Whiteley this week, who’s an influential player both in terms of leadership, but also the linking game that they like to play. Boshoff, good as he is, has had a long lay-off and might be rusty. There’s not too much cover on the bench in case he has an off day at flyahlf.

Where are the Sharks likely to lose?
Rugby isn’t a difficult game. Play to your opponents’ strengths and you’ll come second best. If the Sharks are again weak at scrum time and give away needless penalties in their own half, they will lose. If the Sharks allow the Lions set piece possession in their own 22, they will conceded tries, with the lineout drive a particular threat. If the Sharks kick aimlessly onto the Lions back three and allow their visitors room with which to counter attack, they will lose. There are a lot of ifs here, but perhaps there’s one that’s overarching. If the Sharks allow teh Lions to dominate possession, they will dominate everything else too, with Boshoff the destroyer in chief.

How can the Sharks win?
There are, however, many things the Sharks can do, all of which would fall into the category of “playing to their strengths”…
– Keep possession and attack where the Lions are weak. The key is to move away from the point of contact, using Andre Esterhuizen to get across the advantage line. Quick ball out wide should create the necessary mismatches, with the Sharks wings probably better than their direct opposites.
– Keep them moving backwards. Momentum is key. Nobody likes playing on the back foot and this where the Sharks can perhaps stretch the Lions on defence. This was the approach Western Province used to beat the Lions; constantly turning them and exposing weaknesses in their scrambling defence.
– Avoid scrums, but attack the lineout. The Sharks should obviously keep their individual errors down and thus avoid “avoidable” scrums. Don’t be shy to force lineouts in the Lions’ territory, though, because Marco Wentzel and Stephan Lewies will back themselves to poach a few balls. I’d rather they do this away from their own 22, though, because an attempted poach leaves one man fewer to defend against the maul.
– Cut off their quick ball. This means flooding the breakdown (where the Lions don’t typically commit numbers) and dominating in the tackle to prevent offloads and go-forward. Esterhuizen will again be crucial, as will Etienne Oosthuizen and the other loose forwards.
– Win the aerial battle. Lionel Cronje has kicked sensibly and well the last few weeks. He and Cam Wright can certainly opt to test the Lions back three with high kicks, so long as hese kicks ARE high and are well-chased. The Sharks back three could and should win this battle for contestable ball.

What about the “incident”?
We cannot predict what impact the Jake White saga will have for the Sharks this weekend, but I’m going to make a bold prediction in saying that it will prove decisive. The Sharks weren’t a happy group under White. I feel that they’re going to play better this week with a major source of that unhappiness gone. Of course, it’s completely possible that the opposite could happen too.

I think the Sharks are going to surprise us and deliver their best showing of the year. They will beat the Lions by 8 points on Friday night.

Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 S’bura Sithole, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Tera Mtembu (capt), 7 Etienne Oosthuizen, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Kyle Cooper/Monde Hadebe, 1 Thomas du Toit
Subs: Monde Hadebe/Franco Marais, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 JC Astle, 20 Khaya Majola, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Fred Zeilinga

Golden Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe (capt), 12 Stokkies Hanekom, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Subs: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Julian Redelinghuys, 18 Jacques van Rooyen, 19 Derick Minnie, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Mark Richards, 22 Howard Mnisi.

In other games, we expect the Pumas to pip the Bulls, Griquas to comfortably see off the Kings and Western Province to emerge from Bleomfontein with a convincing win over the Cheetahs.


  • I reckon Lions, Bulls, Griquas and WP but hope I’m wrong regarding the Sharks obviously

  • Comment 1, posted at 02.10.14 11:35:28 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • “The Sharks have saved the best for last this Currie Cup – the best opposition, that is.”
    LOVED that one Rob!!!!!

  • Comment 2, posted at 02.10.14 11:36:06 by R Hayward Reply

  • Who is the ref?

  • Comment 3, posted at 02.10.14 11:40:26 by Bokhoring Reply
  • At first all I read was “the Lions by 8 points”… 😕

  • Comment 4, posted at 02.10.14 11:53:57 by David12246 Reply

  • @Bokhoring (Comment 3) : Pro Legoete. Lottery. Could suit us.

  • Comment 5, posted at 02.10.14 11:54:22 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 5) : I can see that the Lions could get a few frustrating calls in the scrums, but like you said, you never know with this ref.

  • Comment 6, posted at 02.10.14 13:43:13 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @robdylan (Comment 5) : The app with the commenting is awesome. Great job!… and it looks really good to.

  • Comment 7, posted at 02.10.14 13:44:20 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • Yup I must agree Rob I am worried about scrum too. We didn’t do too great against the kings and they are by no stretch in the Lions’ league when it comes to scrummaging. I felt Chadwick was getting bullied a little that day, but maybe Thomas will handle things better.

  • Comment 8, posted at 02.10.14 13:47:45 by coolfusion Reply

  • Lions by 10+

    Breaking the Sharks’ defence is crucial for the Lions.

    Sharks would be better off to play Jakeball. If the Sharks decide to try and open up the game the Lions will punish them. The Lions defence isn’t bad having conceded only 19 tries to the Sharks’ 16 but an open game will suit them and probably weaken the Sharks defence

  • Comment 9, posted at 02.10.14 13:56:07 by Baylion Reply

  • @Baylion (Comment 9) : Would you rather play an outdated tactic just for the sake of this win? I would rather have my team grow. Besides curry cup there is also S15 AND NEXT YEARS CUP. They will learn they will rebuild they will come back stronger.

  • Comment 10, posted at 02.10.14 14:18:40 by coolfusion Reply

  • @coolfusion (Comment 10) : No, I’d love it if the Sharks open up the game 🙂

  • Comment 11, posted at 02.10.14 14:23:06 by Baylion Reply

  • @Baylion (Comment 11) : 😆

  • Comment 12, posted at 02.10.14 16:24:58 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • I like the new approach of the previews!!!!

  • Comment 13, posted at 02.10.14 16:28:05 by capesharks Reply

  • @capesharks (Comment 13) : thanks

  • Comment 14, posted at 02.10.14 17:47:43 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @capesharks (Comment 13) : @robdylan (Comment 14) : Have to agree makes for betta reading

  • Comment 15, posted at 02.10.14 18:11:19 by sharks4eve2013 Reply

  • Marnitz B eish

  • Comment 16, posted at 02.10.14 21:02:19 by benji Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • Check out my maths 😛 :
    1. One of the Pumas or Bulls will lose…and stay on 18/19/20 points…
    2. If Province does win, the Cheetahs will stay on 19/20 points…
    3. With the Sharks on 25 points and only one round to go after this weekend…all that means that if WP wins this weekend, we should just about qualified for the semis!!

  • Comment 17, posted at 02.10.14 22:04:18 by pastorshark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Administrator
  • Any news on Cooper?

  • Comment 18, posted at 02.10.14 22:17:55 by pastorshark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Administrator
  • @pastorshark (Comment 18) : I think he’s good.

  • Comment 19, posted at 02.10.14 22:50:20 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @pastorshark (Comment 17) : ja but finishing top of the log did not help them much last year!?!?!?!?

  • Comment 20, posted at 02.10.14 23:42:24 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 19) : that’s good news I think…… as the Sharks will need him.

  • Comment 21, posted at 02.10.14 23:43:13 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
  • Anyone able to confirm what channel the game will be shown on in UK? I’m I’m assuming its on one of the sky sports red button channel or possibly even sky sports xtra.

  • Comment 22, posted at 03.10.14 14:42:53 by gregkaos Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @gregkaos (Comment 22) : SS 3 Red button apparently

  • Comment 23, posted at 03.10.14 14:47:51 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 23) : Thanks Rob!
    Yoh I’m going to be cutting it fine with leaving work early, picking up my boy from nursery, and then barging slow people outta the way to get home in time. 🙂

  • Comment 24, posted at 03.10.14 14:56:54 by gregkaos Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author

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