Sharks cut loose in opener

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 7 Feb 2016 at 17:39
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , ,

While a potentially serious shoulder injury to captain Pat Lambie has put an understandable damper on the enthusiasm, we shouldn’t let that overshadow the fact that Gary Gold’s Sharks put in a very encouraging display in downing French side RC Toulon by 29 points to 21 on Friday night.

Five tries were scored by the Sharks (against three second half replies to the hosts), but it was the overall approach to the game and the quality of much of the Sharks’ play that will be of most interest to fans, rather than the final scoreline. It may have taken twenty minutes for the first try to be scored, but even in that initial period where the sides were feeling each other out, it became clear that this Sharks team certainly intended to to play attacking rugby wherever possible, but were not prepared to shirk on defence in the process.

Robert du Preez, seemingly, has done great work in honing the attacking skills of this outfit, but it was the impact of his twin sons, Jean-Luc and Daniel, that was most palpable over the course of 80 minutes. the 20-year-old pair, playing at 7 and 8 respectively, strode the Stade Mayol turf like young giants and it’s hard to believe quite how many contributions they managed between them. Daniel was instrumental in the first try, taking a pass from centre Andre Esterhuizen (who himself had made a great break), coming within inches of the line and then throwing out a great offload to a galloping Cobus Reinach who dotted down.

A second followed not long after, as Lambie threaded the marauding Paul Jordaan through the gap with a pinpoint pass. Jordaan, back at his guile-some best on the night, finished with a swerve and a powerful run; Lambie’s conversion took the Sharks out to a 12-point lead. Daniel du Preez added a third score just before half time, barrelling over from a Reinach pass, after the forwards had done yeoman work to move into the 22 and get Toulon onto the back foot. Lambie had taken the ball up strongly earlier in the move and hurt his shoulder in the ensuing ruck; he went off, with Joe Pietersen moving into the pivot position and Garth April taking over at the back.

The Sharks were cruising at 17-0 up at the break. Jean-Luc added his name to the score sheet shortly after the break, with a try that hopefully foreshadows some great rugby to be delivered this season. Brother Daniel took a deep kick from Toulon, feeding Reinach who bounced a pass to Pietersen. Picking the ball up on the bounce, Pietersen broke free, finding April on his outside, who made the crucial yards before spinning the ball back inside to the other du Preez for the Sharks’ fourth.

As is wont to happen, some structure was inevitably lost as the substitutions flowed. Toulon, to their credit, then tightened up their game and started to attack the Sharks via driving mauls, profiting from a sin-binning to Etienne Oosthuizen. A pair of carbon-copy tries brought the home team back to a 14-24 deficit, but it was the Sharks who laughed last, Lwazi Mvovo scoring the fifth in the left hand corner after a textbook eighthman scrum break from Daniel du Preez.

14-29 became 21-29 as Toulon profited one last time form the line out drive – the referee awarding a penalty try for a collapse on this occasion. To the Sharks’ credit, though, they repelled several more line out mauls late in the game, a sign that they were able to adapt and adjust to opposition tactics in game. Certainly, the ferocity and commitment on defence shown in those last tense minutes proved a wonderful foil to the attacking panache of the opening period and gave fans some hope that the Sharks may, at last in 2016, find their balance.

Plenty to get excited about, but also plenty to work on, with lineouts and scrums looking rather wobbly and some of the replacements hardly covering themselves with glory. The biggest concern, of course, will be the loss of Lambie and Sharks country as a whole will be holding its breath for the next 48 hours as we await our captain’s fate.

Toulon (21) Tries: Alexandre Menini, Jean-Charles Orioli, Penalty try. Conversions: Jonathan Pelissie (2), Delon Armitage
Sharks (29) Tries: Cobus Reinach, Paul Jordaan, Daniel du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Lwazi Mvovo. Conversions: Pat Lambie, Joe Pietersen


  • Must say Pat’s kicking took 3steps back. Hope its not the captains role. Somehow it seems to always influence players. Lets hope his injury is not to serious. Better outing by the boys but still some way to go. Our forwards apart from twins werent really good enough… real concern and no quick fix there. Locks and Coenie still only looks like CC level.

  • Comment 1, posted at 07.02.16 17:48:42 by ebenp Reply
  • Pity I missed the game. I will see if I can catch a replay.

    So the one thing that we all hoped wouldn’t happen, did happen and to put insult to injury (Excuse the pun) our captain was the victim. I really hope that his injury is minor. Man like we need this now.

  • Comment 2, posted at 07.02.16 18:47:05 by Farlington Reply
  • •I’ll try and get a write-up done sometime tomorrow, but in some other pre-season news:
    1. Waratahs beat Brumbies will 21-17 with a try at the death.
    2. Crusaders thumped the Reds 31-3.
    3. Racing beat the Highlanders in a try fest 45-38.
    4. The Cheetahs beat the Bulls in a great result for them 28-10.
    5. The Lions played two teams, thumping the Falcons 62-17 and the Leopards 103-0.
    Some interesting results…

  • Comment 3, posted at 07.02.16 18:49:22 by pastorshark Reply
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  • Of the subs,though we didn’t see much of them, I though the props, Adriaanse and Schoeman, looked quite decent. They were very solid in two pressure scrums on our line. The centres were good defensively but didn’t show much more than that. April was average and Ungerer had little opportunity. Giant was quite good and basically played the whole game. Marais wasn’t great…

  • Comment 4, posted at 07.02.16 18:56:21 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @pastorshark (Comment 4) : who of heimar and johan deysel played 13?

  • Comment 5, posted at 07.02.16 20:04:10 by 50shadesofshark Reply

  • pillar defence at rucks need work.

  • Comment 6, posted at 07.02.16 20:11:00 by 50shadesofshark Reply

  • @50shadesofshark (Comment 5) : hard to say, because we hardly had the ball when they were on. Looks like Williams was at 13, though.

  • Comment 7, posted at 07.02.16 20:24:28 by robdylan Reply
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  • Just glad we won and with only one injury.

  • Comment 8, posted at 07.02.16 20:50:06 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 8) : not just one injury. It’s just the most noteworthy and potentially serious one.

    There are three others that I know of as well

  • Comment 9, posted at 07.02.16 21:14:43 by robdylan Reply
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  • Second half slide is a concern. It looked mostly like discipline issues. Coach needs to nip this in the bud. Oosthuizen and friends cannot become penalty liabilities.

  • Comment 10, posted at 07.02.16 21:43:33 by coolfusion Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 7) : thanks.interesting if it was heimar.

  • Comment 11, posted at 07.02.16 21:43:38 by 50shadesofshark Reply

  • @coolfusion (Comment 10) : the ref’s interpretation of the breakdown seemed to have the sharks confused.

  • Comment 12, posted at 07.02.16 21:54:19 by 50shadesofshark Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 7) : Yup…

  • Comment 13, posted at 07.02.16 22:45:09 by pastorshark Reply
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  • Really chuffed with a wonderful team performance so early in the season so kudos to the Sharks for that.

    Lambie’s injury may just be a freak accident but a potential third serious injury in three seasons, in addition to some other players that seem to be chronically injured, suggests that that medical team need some improvement of their own. If I’m way off the mark with that observation I do apologise. It may just be bad luck but I have to be honest that I’m growing a little suspicious.

  • Comment 14, posted at 07.02.16 22:45:59 by vanmartin Reply
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  • Overall it was a good preseason hit out and some areas of both strength and weakness identified which is what the coaches would have wanted to get out from it…plus the win. The scrums and lineouts were a big concern but i think it looked more like a timing issue, especially from the locks, than anything and i think the early injury to Kleinhans disrupted things early on and they never really stabilized. The continuity play was good and we ran good support lines. I would like to see us maintain that same defensive line speed and intensity from the start as we did the last 5min. The big concern is the injury to Lambie and the resultant lack of direction from the Sharks when he went off.

  • Comment 15, posted at 08.02.16 07:58:01 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 15) : I watched the game again and here are my thoughts about scrums and lineouts:
    1. With the scrums I could soon predict which ones would be solid or strong and which ones would be weak…after the hit, in some scrums Coenie was in a good position and we were solid. In some he had a poor position or stature and we got shoved. He needs to work on getting consistency there. I think it will improve with game time – after all, he has played very little in the last year.
    2. In the lineouts we had a 100% record on our own throw in the first half…and stole a few of their throws. At that stage I was very chuffed and even commented that it looks like they’ve worked hard on it. The second half was an unmitigated disaster. I had the impression that the first 10 mins (while Cooper was still on) had to do with poor concentration. Once Marais came on it had more to do with him having a really poor game at lineout time…

  • Comment 16, posted at 08.02.16 08:08:36 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @pastorshark (Comment 16) : I definitely agree with you about the scrums. When you could see Coenie concentrate we had a good scrum and he smashed his opponent. Problem is he doesnt seems to be able to concentrate consistently and gets into horrible positions. As for the lineouts…a few things bugged me- nobody seemed to take much initiative there and stamp their authority, even if they got it wrong. The timing looked way out especially when Marais came on. Our guys arent getting into the air quick enough and we dont use out loosies enough as a variation. So for me the scrums can be fixed fairly easily…lineouts are going to require some stern conversations amongst the guys.

  • Comment 17, posted at 08.02.16 08:34:29 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 17) : I’ll be interested to see the response to those issues in the next month or so…

  • Comment 18, posted at 08.02.16 08:38:10 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @pastorshark (Comment 18) : In terms of the scrums im just not sure of the best combination. We have Beast, Thomas and Coenie…not sure who is next as none have impressed. Cooper seems to have got his no.1 hooker spot back but after that im not sure who is next. In terms of the lineouts…if Lewies ever gets fit it will help. Botha is new to the side but he must impose himself. And then use our good lineout loosies, especially the twins. Lineouts we seemed to just go through the motions on Friday…id like us to be more dynamic there so mix up the numbers at each lineout…throw it in quick…drive some in our own half etc.

  • Comment 19, posted at 08.02.16 08:42:35 by SheldonK Reply

  • Is it me or does everytime jordan runs with the ball it looks like he’s gonna fall slat on his face? I know that happens when you try run faster than you can its like your legs and balance goes.

    And is everyone gonna ignore that the sevens all blacks cheated and played with 8 players against australia in the pool stages! Why do they get away with everything! If it was the boks ,points would already be deducted

  • Comment 20, posted at 08.02.16 09:16:42 by Poisy Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 9) : ag no man. Hope they will be ok!!!!!

  • Comment 21, posted at 08.02.16 09:23:50 by JD Reply
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  • If anyone missed the game!EEow1QTa

  • Comment 22, posted at 08.02.16 09:26:59 by Seth101 Reply
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  • @Poisy (Comment 20) : please tell us more about the NZ 7’s cheating. Did not see or hear anything about it?!?!

  • Comment 23, posted at 08.02.16 09:29:50 by JD Reply
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  • @Seth101 (Comment 24) : and so they will once again get away with it!!!!!! But they’re not the only ones to blame, how can a player just go onto the field? the officials should have picked it up as well!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment 25, posted at 08.02.16 09:41:16 by JD Reply
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  • My thoughts on the good, the bad and the confusing from the game:

    The good:
    – attacking mind-set, intensity and defence
    – Ruan Botha, played a great game before going off injured
    – The du Preez twins, as everyone has already noted.
    – the backline generally gelled nicely and looked for opportunities

    The bad;
    – Lambie’s and the other injuries
    – The front row (particularly Coenie and the hookers)

    The confusing:
    – Why have 3 scrumhalves and then not play the inform scrumhalf from last year?
    – Why did we not bring more loosies, or are they all injured?

    Overall a very positive start for what is going to be an interesting campaign.

  • Comment 27, posted at 08.02.16 09:51:55 by stevovo Reply
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  • @stevovo (Comment 27) : Just my thoughts. Regarding the bad…i think in terms of the scrums its just a concentration thing as when they concentrated (Coenie especially) they scrummed very well. In terms of the 3 scrummies, the commentators did say Claasens was pulled out because of injury prior to the game. And ya eish those injuries

  • Comment 28, posted at 08.02.16 10:11:27 by SheldonK Reply

  • One thing few mentioned was the ref’s non-enforcement of truck & trailer / lane changing at the mauls. I think we realised this later, which is why we defended it better. We weren’t supposed to have to defend this…

    I was impressed with the game, but will be watching Thursday night to see if we continue in this positive way.

  • Comment 29, posted at 08.02.16 12:49:50 by T-Shark Reply

  • @T-Shark (Comment 29) : I think the maul is a very difficult thing to ref. Its pretty much left open to interpretation of the individual reffing.

  • Comment 30, posted at 08.02.16 13:03:16 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 28) : ok thanks, this makes sense then about Claasens

  • Comment 31, posted at 08.02.16 13:16:51 by stevovo Reply
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  • @T-Shark (Comment 29) : @SheldonK (Comment 30) : This is why I despise the rolling maul. There’s just way too much room for interpretation. Between the ref, the commentators and the public it’s very likely to wind up with three different views on the same play. Added to that, it’s been such a go-to tactic for SA teams that I fear it’s made us very lazy in the attack department.

  • Comment 32, posted at 08.02.16 14:24:07 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @T-Shark (Comment 29) : @SheldonK (Comment 30) : @vanmartin (Comment 32) : mauls are legal obstruction!!!!!!!! As soon as you can see the ball at the tail of the maul any player going to bind in front of the ball carrier is committing obstruction yet it is never penalised!!!!!!!! The ball should be passed back from player to player, these days the ball carrier just “glides” to the back of the maul and keeps on “gliding” to the back as other players join!!!!!!! IT’S LEGAL OBSTRUCTION!!!!!!!!!! 😈

  • Comment 33, posted at 08.02.16 14:40:48 by JD Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 32) : I would say its made us lazy on attack and also lazy in defending it as we believe we will just easily keep other teams from doing it to us. @JD (Comment 33) : Call it what you like its been around for ages and isnt going anywhere…teams have to adapt to defend just like teams have adapted to make it a weapon.

  • Comment 34, posted at 08.02.16 14:44:31 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 34) : call it what you want I will stick with legal obstruction!! But yes I know it’s part of the game so teams must adapt and like so may areas of the game they must play the ref to see what they can get away with and what is penalised.

  • Comment 35, posted at 08.02.16 14:55:16 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 35) : As you say its legal obstruction…same as dummy runners. Sow e cant really complain. Teams like scoring with it but moan trying to defend and say its unfair. Rugby is a test of strength and power amongst other things…the maul just tests that.

  • Comment 36, posted at 08.02.16 15:12:05 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 36) : not complaining just saying how I feel about it. Like I said in my previous comment teams need to adapt to the ref and play to what he allows.

  • Comment 37, posted at 08.02.16 21:30:29 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 37) : Fair enough

  • Comment 38, posted at 09.02.16 07:54:19 by SheldonK Reply


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