robdylan

What we learned at the NMB Stadium


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 1 Sep 2015 at 11:50
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While I’m not quite ready to do a full-blown player ratings piece for this work-in-progress Sharks Currie Cup team, I’d like to pick up on a few aspects from the performance against the Kings in PE on Saturday.

It’s a frustrating time to be a Sharks supporter, of course. We are caught in a delicate balancing act between supporting an inexperienced team to the hilt, backing them to learn and grow and trying our hardest not to erode their fledgling confidence. There’s no doubt that we have a group of rather talented youngsters in the mix and that they will only improve the more they play together and that we, as fans, need patience. The flip side, though, is that other teams in this year’s competition (the Bulls in particular) boast a similarly inexperienced team, yet seem to have already found a way to play exciting, winning rugby. It gets rather exhausting having to “take a few positives” out of another poor performance, when the opposition is sprinting away from us at the top of the log.

Rebuilding is fine, and all, but we are the Sharks and we do not miss out on the Currie Cup play-offs. That’s just a given, a basic minimum requirement if you coach this team or wear this jersey.

Let’s not beat around the bush – while it is very pleasing (in a relieving sort of way) that we won the game, it ended up being far closer than it should have been and fell way short of what I’d consider a good performance. That the fourth try, at the very least, couldn’t be scored is inexcusable.

So let’s look at what we’ve learned and hope that these lessons can be put to good use in the games to come.

Joe Pietersen, Michael Claassens and Philip van der Walt are pure class. You simply cannot build a team of youngsters without an experienced spine and these three players are worth their combined weight in finest platinum. Van der Walt is the competition’s leading tackler and in a team that averages nearly 20% of tackles missed per game, you simply cannot overstate just how valuable that contribution has been. Likewise, the Sharks look a different outfit with Claassens clearing at the base, while Pietersen’s calm under pressure is exemplary.

The tight five needs to pull up their socks. While certain individuals are putting in a solid shift every week, others seem content to play in fits and starts and it simply isn’t good enough at this level to not be permanently switched on. There was no fire whatsoever in the first half last week, while the second half turnaround showed that the issue wasn’t a lack of muscle, but rather a lack of attitude. Dale Chadwick and Etienne Oosthuizen, in particular, need to sort themselves out because they are not inexperienced players and honestly owe us more than we’re seeing right now.

It’s all breaking down at flyhalf. Lionel Cronje isn’t working out – not consistently. He’s making too many basic errors and putting the team under pressure. As such, even when the forwards do manage to secure good ball for Claassens to distribute, it’s just not getting to the right places in the right ways and that, I’m afraid, is pretty much solely down to Cronje. It’s admirable that the coach continues to back him, but it’s perhaps time to learn the lesson that virtually every other coach has already learned about this player and move on to someone more consistent.

Thomas du Toit. WOW. After the criticism he’s endured during the week, Thomas was simply outstanding. I’m not sure I understand all of the reasons behind his determination to play tighthead, but my word, as a loosehead he’s already pretty close to world class. I have no concerns about his mobility and his work rate puts plenty of other lighter and more mobile players to shame. I have no doubt that in time he will develop into a world beating number 3, because he is just pure class and has probably the best attitude of any 20-year-old player I’ve yet seen. Dan du Preez is another youngster that is playing seriously well and needs to be backed as far as possible.

Keep on the way you’re going, Franna Kleinhans. He’s by no means a youngster and he’s had terrible luck with injury the last few years. Finally out the shadow of Daniel, Botes and Coetzee and profiting from an unfortunate injury to Majola, Kleinhans seems to realise that this is his big (and perhaps last?) break and he’s playing like a man who ensures to keep that number 6 jersey firmly glued to his back, no matter what. We talk about attitude and this guy has it – sometimes, a little (or perhaps a lot of) adversity brings the best out a player and I feel that all the setbacks over the last few years have only firmed Kleinhans’s resolve. If we had 15 of him in the team we’d never lose.

Momentum is crucial, don’t ruin it. The timing of Gary Gold’s substitutions this week was poor and I found that particularly frustrating given that he mentioned this as an issue against the Lions the week before. While the move to bring du Toit on at half time was a master stroke, I simply cannot fathom the last quarter glut of replacements. Why take Dan du Preez off the moment he’s scored a great try and is sure to be high on confidence? With a bonus point looming and the pack finally on top, why replace the scrumhalf whose crisp service has been key to momentum, while doing nothing about the out-of-sorts flyhalf beside him? It smacks of having a predetermined plan and being determined to “give everyone a run”, rather than making only those changes that are warranted given the situation.


53 Comments

  • Wow good article Rob think you have it spot on.
    Must agree 100% the replacement cost us during the last 20 odd min. of both games!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment 1, posted at 01.09.15 11:57:10 by JD Reply
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  • We won, I agree, but wasn’t it more a case of failing to lose?

    Anyway – agree with the piece, we need Thomas to play like this a few more times this year.

    Joe P needs to move to flyhalf if the plan is to leave Rabebe with the U21’s. He seems to be flourishing there, so I can understand leaving him to gain confidence in his first real season.

    The problem is then suddenly to find a fullback, as I am not so sure Ndungane should be wearing the 15 jersey. Where is Van Tonder, can he not come through in the absence of SP Marais?

    We need to keep the Du Preez brothers, talented youngsters with some serious grunt. They will form an integral part of the Super Rugby squad..

  • Comment 2, posted at 01.09.15 12:02:53 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 2) : van Tonder did his ACL during Vodacom Cup, Rich. He’s out for the year.

  • Comment 3, posted at 01.09.15 12:14:23 by robdylan Reply
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  • Great summary. Hope GG reads it. Nothing I can except hope they implement this.

  • Comment 4, posted at 01.09.15 12:16:35 by T-Shark Reply

    T-Shark
     
  • Yeh good summary rob.
    I think our tight 5 probably need to get tighter and in that regard im not sure why the Thomas to tighthead…all i can think its because we have Beast and they want them both on the field same time? Our locks needs to man up. Fairly happy with the loose forwards. Ungerer is so out of sorts he really needs to sort out his game before getting more game time. I truly think Pieterson to 10 will give us better direction and create space for the guys outside..at the moment our 13 and wings are on a hiding to nothing. We cant keep crashing it up at 12 or just doing cross kicks. Id prefer the loosies to remain, claasens, pieterson as 9/10. Sithole and Mjekevu on the wings, Esterhuizen and Jordaan remain at centre with Odwa at 15…or throw in Garth April to have a go.

  • Comment 5, posted at 01.09.15 12:20:13 by SheldonK Reply

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  • Nice one Rob – pretty much my thoughts too. Might be worth giving April a chance – he seems to be an exciting attacker.

  • Comment 6, posted at 01.09.15 12:25:48 by Big Fish Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 3) :

    What do you suggest then at 15? Trying this April kid? Or rather leaving Joe P there and hoping Cronje screws up less in the weeks to come…

  • Comment 7, posted at 01.09.15 12:26:23 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 7) : Only downfall with April is that he is a bit of a shortie…mayb more suited to 10 as thats where he played when he was spotted. But apparently Rovers were told to play him at 15 exclusively

  • Comment 8, posted at 01.09.15 12:28:05 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonK
     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 5) : I would like to see Paul Jordan given a run at fullback,not unlike Kolbe,but with a 100x better defence.Think Christian Cullen.

  • Comment 9, posted at 01.09.15 12:28:06 by The hound Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 9) : It could work…do u think his positioning and concentration would be up to it? He does tend to go walk about at 13 a bit sometimes so would have to be disciplined at 15. But yeh as ive said before, Sharks are so predictable at the moment its scary

  • Comment 10, posted at 01.09.15 12:29:36 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonK
     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 8) :

    Interesting. Hopefully that helped and we can start seeing what this kid has to offer. No point in buying him and leaving him on the bench to play 90 seconds every second match..

    I wish they would instead do that with one of their other purchases this season..

  • Comment 11, posted at 01.09.15 12:30:02 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 2) : @SheldonK (Comment 5) :

    Yeah, lets give Garth April a shot. Joe must be moved to 10. If Gary won’t back April then just put Odwa/Cronje in to fill the gap till we can think of a permanent option, but Cronje can surely not be backed at 10 again.

  • Comment 12, posted at 01.09.15 12:33:26 by Letgo Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 7) : I wish I had the answer Rich.

    For me, it is crucial to have a 10 that doesn’t screw up all the time, hence Joe must play 10.

    I don’t really know anything about April, but we have him and Alcino Izaacs as potential fullback options, as well as Odwa.

    I have no real concerns about Odwa as a stopgap fullback – he’s never let us down in that position.

  • Comment 13, posted at 01.09.15 12:33:42 by robdylan Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 9) :
    Been my view for ages. I think the lines and angles he runs work better from open field and he isn’t really great when not at full gallop.

    He played a bit at 10 so surely his kicking and handling is pretty good too

  • Comment 14, posted at 01.09.15 12:36:46 by Big Fish Reply
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  • We need a 4 lock with grunt. Etienne Oosthuizen has had enough chances. He isn’t close to good enough at Currie Cup level. How can this guy play Super Rugby?

  • Comment 15, posted at 01.09.15 12:49:34 by Ben Reply
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  • Nice summation Rob. Agree fully.

  • Comment 16, posted at 01.09.15 12:58:47 by vanmartin Reply
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  • Any idea whats happened to John Roy Jenkinson we apparently signed? Was that to hold tackle bags? To be fair to them, playing the Pumas at Kings park is probably the ‘easiest’ game to give the likes of Garth April a run to see what he can offer.

  • Comment 17, posted at 01.09.15 13:04:42 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonK
     
  • @Ben (Comment 15) : im afraid the Sharks are in very very short supply of those type of locks.

  • Comment 18, posted at 01.09.15 13:06:25 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonK
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 13) :

    I am terribly out of the loop, but I assume Tyler Fisher is injured again? He was an option for fullback if not injured..

    I really don’t like the idea of a stopgap, the Currie Cup is there to develop, it’s not like we are going to reach the playoffs, so we only really have 10 games left in which to give the guys chance to play before a Super Rugby squad needs to be selected.

  • Comment 19, posted at 01.09.15 13:06:37 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 17) : he played for the Leoaprds this last weekend, so clearly it didn’t really work out.

  • Comment 20, posted at 01.09.15 13:07:53 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 19) : I think he left the Sharks a while ago already…don’t know where he went though….married life keeping you busy? πŸ˜‰

  • Comment 21, posted at 01.09.15 13:08:02 by FireTheLooser Reply

     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 17) :

    He was at the Cheetahs last time I saw his name.. Did we sign him back after that stint?

  • Comment 22, posted at 01.09.15 13:08:45 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 19) : Fisher is at the Leopards too i think

  • Comment 23, posted at 01.09.15 13:08:52 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 19) : fair enough. In that case, we need to give April 4 games to see if he has what it takes.

    Tyler is on loan to the Leopards for the CC First Division season and I’m afraid the idea to play him at fullback seems to have died with Jake.

  • Comment 24, posted at 01.09.15 13:08:53 by robdylan Reply
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  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 21) :

    If only it was married life – it’s fatherhood..

    Very little spare time for a few months. Seem to be catching up a bit now..

  • Comment 25, posted at 01.09.15 13:10:08 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 24) :

    I really liked him, but hell the kid has suffered with injuries.

    At least he is still contracted to the Sharks, and he has the chance to play rugby every weekend. Let’s hope he comes through..

  • Comment 26, posted at 01.09.15 13:13:19 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 25) : I will soon find out what this fatherhood thing is about πŸ˜‰

  • Comment 27, posted at 01.09.15 13:15:06 by FireTheLooser Reply

     
  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 27) :

    Congratulations and good luck.

    Get plenty sleep and do what I did, I bought my son an Explora for his 1 month birthday. The only way you will be able to watch anything and actually concentrate..

  • Comment 28, posted at 01.09.15 13:16:39 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 28) : Wise man…I bought my wife an Xbox as a gift πŸ˜†

  • Comment 29, posted at 01.09.15 13:18:29 by FireTheLooser Reply

     
  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 29) :

    And now she is pregnant – funny that…

  • Comment 30, posted at 01.09.15 13:18:57 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 25) : it’s really good to have you around again, Fergo. We’ve missed you.

  • Comment 31, posted at 01.09.15 13:21:32 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 31) :

    It’s good to be back, just a shame neither of the two teams I support is playing any decent rugby to report about..

  • Comment 32, posted at 01.09.15 13:24:41 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • We are certainly looking good in high 5 depth post WC 2015.
    Props like Thomas, Oli Kebble, Wilco Louw, Juan Schoeman, Ox Nche, and the more established Kitshoff, Coenie and Malherbe. Hookers need some tweaking but ebogh potential with Malcolm Marx, Jacques du Toit, Ntuneni and Rautenbach. Locks: Etzebeth, Lood, PSDT, Ruan Both, Kleyn, Orie, Mostert and RG Snyman

  • Comment 33, posted at 01.09.15 13:25:14 by KingCheetah Reply

    KingCheetah
     
  • @KingCheetah (Comment 33) :

    Do you think we stand a chance of retaining Kitshoff? I mean, he has a French contract, I won’t be surprised if he did a Kockett and plays against us in 2019…

  • Comment 34, posted at 01.09.15 13:26:33 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 34) : Hasn’t he got a Bok cap already?Sure I remember him on one of those end of year tours.

  • Comment 35, posted at 01.09.15 13:29:58 by The hound Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 35) :

    Baby Boks 2012 – Nothing International since..

  • Comment 36, posted at 01.09.15 13:46:03 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 36) : So does that rule him out,like in soccer Ryan Giggs played junior soccer for Wales and could never play for England even though he was born and lived in Manchester all his life.

  • Comment 37, posted at 01.09.15 13:58:34 by The hound Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 34) : I guess that is a distinct possibility. Well, it will be bad, but we have some seriously good youngsters coming through.

  • Comment 38, posted at 01.09.15 14:01:18 by KingCheetah Reply

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  • @The hound (Comment 37) : Think a country nominates a tier capping system. So a full bok cap will count, to my knowledge that is the only way to retain a player. And I think the IRB will be reviewing the residency rules for internationals after WC. Don’t think it will be three years henceforth.

  • Comment 39, posted at 01.09.15 14:03:54 by KingCheetah Reply

    KingCheetah
     
  • @KingCheetah (Comment 39) : there was a point when we changed the designated “second team” to the SA Under 20 side. Anyone who played Baby Boks after 2013 cannot play for another country. Those capped before then are fine.

  • Comment 40, posted at 01.09.15 14:17:15 by robdylan Reply
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  • @KingCheetah (Comment 39) : Thanks,be a pity to loose Kitshoff he is serious talent,put him and Thomas together next World Cup.

  • Comment 41, posted at 01.09.15 14:17:43 by The hound Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 41) : my concern with Steven is that I don’t think his ball skills are anywhere near good enough for a loosehead prop.

  • Comment 42, posted at 01.09.15 14:21:21 by robdylan Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 9) : I agree we should give jordaan a go at fullback now that SP is injured and we need Joe at flyhalf. Garth April wasn’t on the field for long in the warm-up game against the Lions earlier this year, but while he was on he didn’t fill me with confidence at all. Jordaan is young and talented enough to make the 15 jersey his own.

  • Comment 43, posted at 01.09.15 14:56:43 by jonnow Reply

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  • @robdylan (Comment 40) : Ah thanks Rob, wasn’t sure, but I do recall something like that.

  • Comment 44, posted at 01.09.15 15:31:49 by KingCheetah Reply

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  • @jonnow (Comment 43) : Dont think u can read much into that game as we beat the Lions but when it came to a match that count we got schooled.

  • Comment 45, posted at 01.09.15 15:43:54 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 2) : Time to move Paul Jordaan to 15.

  • Comment 46, posted at 01.09.15 17:52:10 by GreatSharksays Reply

     
  • I’m not quite convinced about the Paul Jordaan at fullback thing…but I am happy to be proved wrong!

  • Comment 47, posted at 01.09.15 19:32:00 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 19) : just remember Le Roux will be here for Super rugby and SP and van Tonder should be fit again so a stop gap can work for now.

  • Comment 48, posted at 01.09.15 21:47:06 by JD Reply
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  • @pastorshark (Comment 47) : ja must say I’m also against the move. Think between le Roux, Joe, SP, etc Sharks have plenty of cover at 15 for Super rugby but only Jordaan and Mjekevu to cover 13.

  • Comment 49, posted at 01.09.15 22:00:25 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 49) : And Sbura…though the plan of using him at 13 seems to have been totally discarded now…

  • Comment 50, posted at 01.09.15 22:09:24 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @pastorshark (Comment 50) : ja does not look as if current coaches sees him as an option at 13 and will rather play him on the wing.

  • Comment 51, posted at 01.09.15 22:21:54 by JD Reply
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  • Yup…he has done well at wing (bar last week)…but he was good at 13 under Jake. Well, I suppose he just adds to our depth there! I haven’t been impressed by Mjekevu at all yet…

  • Comment 52, posted at 01.09.15 22:24:19 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @GreatSharksays (Comment 46) : why would we take a young guy who has been injured for a while, shown a lot of potential at 13 and mess him around by playing him in a position where positional sense is key – especially when we have the Bok 15 arriving shortly? Seems like a continuation of the Sharks trend of playing people out of position and not letting them master one position. I can’t remember one guy (maybe Marcel Coetzee) who has benefitted from that. The number on your back matters…

  • Comment 53, posted at 01.09.15 22:52:35 by JR Reply

     

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