robdylan

A good start, but hold the champagne


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 1 Mar 2016 at 09:00
Tagged with : , , , ,

What a tightrope of expectation we walk as fans…. after the weekend elation, I’m afraid it’s time for “Reality Tuesday” to dawn, when we put Saturday’s big win behind us and rather begin to look (rather soberly) at the challenges yet to come.

Super Rugby is a marathon and the Sharks started on Saturday as though they hadn’t quite heard the gun. Fortunately, they managed to recover pretty well and sprint past some of the slower guys at the back, but man – there is still so much work to do before we can even start to talk about a “complete performance” that we’d be wise to dial our level of expectation back a whole lot and rather wait and see what they are able to deliver against better opposition.

I don’t want to be a negative Nelly here and I was as excited and enthused as anyone as the team ran in four beautiful second half tries. You’d have to be a real pessimistic sod to not see the clear improvement in the standard of play already evident this season and our challenge (well, my challenge) is to not let that evidence of improvement take on more significance that it warrants. After all, we may have got a few things right but there is still plenty that’s not very good and needs to improve drastically and rapidly.

So what was good? Let’s start there, since being positive is always more fun:
– Defence was very, very good. Admittedly the Kings didn’t threaten on attack after their initial burst, but the Sharks made their tackles and those tackles were generally dominant. On the few occasions that a Kings man did slip through, the cover worked hard to scramble and prevent tries being scored.
– Handling – so often the Achilles heel of this team – looked very slick and with the whole team seemingly committed to keeping the ball alive, there really were some special moments. It’s not often you see a South African team come away with the most offloads in the round and the Sharks managed to make the vast majority of those count, with 9 of the 10 that they attempted going to hand.
– The backs (and particularly the centres) appear to have really worked on their skill set over the off season and the whole style of play just looks a lot more fluid and natural. Without wanting to single out individuals particularly, I have to say that Paul Jordaan just looks a different player this year and must surely come strongly into the national frame if he continues to play like that.
– Willie le Roux seems to have ignited the back three; playing alongside him, Lwazi Mvovo and Odwa Ndungane appear brimming with confidence and swagger and with four tries between the three of them, you can’t doubt the impact the Bok fullback seems to bring to the team.

The bad, though, is also a long list and Gary Gold and his assistants will know that all of the issues that follow need to be addressed:
– Concentration and accuracy was poor in the early stages of the match. You couldn’t fault the Sharks for enthusiasm, but they started playing like headless chickens early on and against a better side, they would have found themselves 15 points down before they could blink. Credit to the guys for turning it around, but they’ll not get away with a start like that against the Jaguares or Stormers in their next two fixtures.
– Discipline was poor. This is, I’m sure, largely due to frustration at Jaco van Heerden’s made-up breakdown interpretations, but a champion team is able to figure out what’s going on and adjust – not give away a bevy of penalties and let discipline slip as the frustration grows. Cobus Reinach and Etienne Oosthuizen were individually singled out, but this was a team malaise and the penalty count for breakdown indiscretions was fairly well spread.
– Set pieces weren’t good enough. It’s early season, sure and there are some new men in the mix, but the Sharks should have dominated both the scrums and the lineouts, given how little time the Kings had to prepare for them. Instead, it was the hosts who looked better drilled in both phases, at least early on. The scrum did improve and the Sharks will want to build on that, while cutting out silly errors at lineout time that rob them of momentum.
– I wasn’t truly blown away by the showing of the halfbacks and it’s very important that somebody puts their hand up at flyhalf and accepts responsibility for running the show and controlling the game. Joe Pietersen is a wonderful player with a plethora of skills, but lacks the sort of “siege gun boot” to enable the Sharks to really play a territorial game. Cobus Reinach’s service needs to be snappier as well.

Nonetheless, there are very good signs and the things that are wrong are fixable. Let’s hope for signs of yet further improvement this weekend against a formidable Argentine test side. I mean los Jaguares, of course!


37 Comments

  • My moment of the match was when Beast lectured Ettienne after he had that penalty overturned. Too me that was the moment that Beast turned into a real captain.

  • Comment 1, posted at 01.03.16 09:08:07 by KingRiaan Reply
    KingRiaan
     
  • One other thing that’s probably worth keeping an eye on is our conditioning. Our guys looked sharp during the closing stages of the match. We’ll get a fuller picture from future matches but I suspect this may become another positive point in the weeks to come.

    One area where we’ll be targeted in the coming match this weekend is our defence against the rolling maul. The refs may be struggling to correctly officiated this area so we need to be even more accurate here.

  • Comment 2, posted at 01.03.16 09:19:56 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    vanmartin
     
  • Jaco Peyper will ref us this weekend. Could be worse, could also be better.

  • Comment 3, posted at 01.03.16 09:28:25 by Seth101 Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter Author
    Nostraseth
     
  • @Seth101 (Comment 3) : With van Heerden on the sideline and Johan Greeff (v Heerden’s TMO buddy from last year’s Bulls game) in the booth

  • Comment 4, posted at 01.03.16 09:32:24 by Die Kriek Reply

     
  • Got to finally watch the game last night and the boys looked good,I think april needs to start and build his confidence and cobus needs to be quicker in his passes,I’m glad the loose forwards are bringing it to the opporsition allowing the backs to strive and not be bulldozers especially at 12

  • Comment 5, posted at 01.03.16 09:49:37 by Poisy Reply
    Author
    Poisy
     
  • @Poisy (Comment 5) : im going to be a negative nelly.april dropped 2 easy passes in game situations where the sharks were threatening.home games are absolute must-wins.not just for comp log points ,but sharks must also build the culture of the shark tank being a daunting prospect for teams to play at.and to get the crowds back into the stadium.

  • Comment 6, posted at 01.03.16 10:15:25 by 50shadesofshark Reply

     
  • @50shadesofshark (Comment 6) : only way he will improve is to be backed.

  • Comment 7, posted at 01.03.16 10:22:42 by Poisy Reply
    Author
    Poisy
     
  • I finally watched the game last night, and I must say, the turnaround in Paul Jordaan’s standard- and style of play was by far the most enjoyable aspect of the game for me. The way he committed defenders, and then passed to team mates in space instead of trying to have a go himself was a joy to behold. And the line he ran for his try was a thing of beauty too.

  • Comment 8, posted at 01.03.16 10:25:38 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling Song
     
  • @Poisy (Comment 7) : im not saying drop him out of the match 23 completely.home games are imo must-wins.until proven different,i will select joe to start.that doesn’t mean april must not get a start or have 5 mins at the tail-end of each game.

  • Comment 9, posted at 01.03.16 10:31:53 by 50shadesofshark Reply

     
  • Game is on ss1 right now.

  • Comment 10, posted at 01.03.16 10:50:01 by 50shadesofshark Reply

     
  • @Culling Song (Comment 8) : A huge contribution to his turnaround is the speed and accuracy of Claassens pass,he gets the ball in space,and without three defenders on top of him.

  • Comment 11, posted at 01.03.16 11:12:29 by The hound Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    The hound
     
  • @The hound (Comment 11) : sorry, but I call shenanigans. Paul had a superb game from start to finish, but Claassens was only on the field for the last 25 minutes.

    Nice attempt to shoehorn an unrelated fact into your agenda, but better luck next time.

  • Comment 12, posted at 01.03.16 11:25:41 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylan
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 12) : What was the score at half time,and what was the score while Claassens was on the field.

  • Comment 13, posted at 01.03.16 11:32:40 by The hound Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    The hound
     
  • @The hound (Comment 13) : who was the scrumhalf when Jordaan scored his try?

  • Comment 14, posted at 01.03.16 11:39:21 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylan
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 14) : NO NO NO. I am NOT going to get sucked into another bullshit argument with you, Hound. Get behind me. I have constructive things to do today instead 🙂

  • Comment 15, posted at 01.03.16 11:41:46 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylan
     
  • @The hound (Comment 11) : I’m sure good service and good front foot ball helped to make things easier for the backs, but I’m not at all convinced that it was a key contributor to Paul’s newfound “draw and pass’ ability

  • Comment 16, posted at 01.03.16 11:46:57 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling Song
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 15) : Can I change my name to # CLAASENS MUST START.

  • Comment 17, posted at 01.03.16 11:47:55 by The hound Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    The hound
     
  • @Culling Song (Comment 16) : To be fair the guy he came back from a horrific injury last year,and you couldn’t blame him for being a little gun shy.I think he has ref,and he looks like he is enjoying his rugby again.ound his confidence

  • Comment 18, posted at 01.03.16 11:52:16 by The hound Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    The hound
     
  • ref read refound his confidence

  • Comment 19, posted at 01.03.16 11:53:27 by The hound Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    The hound
     
  • @The hound (Comment 17) : Claasens will no doubt get his start at some point, it’s a long season.

  • Comment 20, posted at 01.03.16 11:54:52 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    vanmartin
     
  • @The hound (Comment 18) : I think one of the most significant recent developments at the Sharks, to me, at least, is that most of the players seem to be enjoying their rugby. At points last year you got the impression that being on the field was perceived by the players as just another shitty job.

  • Comment 21, posted at 01.03.16 11:59:56 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling Song
     
  • @Poisy (Comment 7) : Agree 100%, he will improve with game time. He is after all, part of our exciting future at the Sharks.

  • Comment 22, posted at 01.03.16 12:03:42 by Bump Reply

    Bump
     
  • @Culling Song (Comment 8) : must say I also noticed it. He really showed some nice skills!

  • Comment 23, posted at 01.03.16 12:43:54 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    JD
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 15) : hahaha he almost got you!!!!

  • Comment 24, posted at 01.03.16 12:45:30 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    JD
     
  • Hey guys long time!
    So it seems like RdP has had quite an effect on our 9s. Noticed that both controlled the pace very well. when either smelled blood or we won a turnover they upped the pace dramatically. The backs seemed to react very quickly to this as well. MC had more opportunities due to the fatigued and despondent Kings. My only criticism was a couple of CRs passes were a tad on the high side.

    No I’m not going to be comparing who was better. Pointless exercise IMO. Both got the thumbs up from me.

    My winner for the best bit of skill shown was Joe’s “eye of the needle” pass to Paul.

  • Comment 25, posted at 01.03.16 13:34:48 by gregkaos Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    gregkaos
     
  • What was tremendous for me was the commitment on defense, look at how Jordaan, Mvovo, and Willie reeled in the kings break away, that was pure commitment and dedication

  • Comment 26, posted at 01.03.16 13:43:47 by Henkb Reply
    Author
    HB
     
  • Perhaps Esterhuyzen can start doing a Frans impression and take the line kicks from penalties. Joe struggles to get a decent distance on his kicks.

  • Comment 27, posted at 01.03.16 14:43:40 by Bokhoring Reply
    Administrator
    Bokhoring
     
  • @Henkb (Comment 26) : geez I enjoyed that. The Kings player just jinked Mvovo only to get nailed by Jordaan!!! Lots of commitment showed by the guys even though the game was already well won!!!

  • Comment 28, posted at 01.03.16 15:08:54 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    JD
     
  • @gregkaos (Comment 25) : Absolutely, beaut of a pass from Joe. Have to be honest, I immediately cringed when I saw Reinach’s scoop pass between the legs. The class of 2015 would simply go on to butcher anything that unexpected but I was pleasantly surprised at how well it came together in the end.

    @Bokhoring (Comment 27) : That’s not a terrible idea.

  • Comment 29, posted at 01.03.16 15:27:31 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    vanmartin
     
  • @vanmartin (Comment 29) : think we were as bit luck with that pass but yes they did well to finish it. Think Willie and Joe have a lot to do with the vision to spot the space and gaps.

  • Comment 30, posted at 01.03.16 15:30:32 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    JD
     
  • @vanmartin (Comment 29) : That was on a penalty advantage. It was a free play, and Reinach knew it, that is why he risked it. I was so happy when he did it, because I am sick of the attempted drop kick on the penalty advantage, why go for 3 if you have a backup 3? Go for a try and then take the 3 if that fails, I was thrilled to see the Sharks take some serious risk on that “free” play and have it pay off.

  • Comment 31, posted at 01.03.16 23:45:16 by Dancing Bear Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Dancing Bear
     
  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 31) : 100% DB, that is (one of) my pet hates. It’s utterly idiotic to go for a drop kick when you have a FREE play at scoring a try. If the try doesn’t materialise, then you get the penalty anyway and can kick the 3 points. I’m also not that keen when the 10 (or anyone else for that matter) just kicks a high ball for the wing, hoping he can catch it and score, it’s a low percentage success and most of the time, the opposition know what is coming. Show some imagination and really go for it!

  • Comment 32, posted at 01.03.16 23:59:03 by Villie Reply
    Competition Winner
    Villie
     
  • @Villie (Comment 32) : Right before the between the leg pass, Pietersen threw a beautiful no look pass inside to Mvovo who ran a superb line from the left wing. This inside pass drew the defence from the Sharks right in, which left Odders wide open. The beautiful part is Reinach recognized this immediately and realized that only an extremely quick pass out would allow the play to work for the try. Great vision by Reinach, and as soon as he realized he had a penalty advantage, that ball was out any way he could get it. I like this kind of thoughtful play, heads up, and playing to the situation. I hope we continue to see this.

  • Comment 33, posted at 02.03.16 00:56:24 by Dancing Bear Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Dancing Bear
     
  • @gregkaos (Comment 25) : 2nd time the sharks have made that play.no10 running to the line and putting jordaannrunning from depth, into space with pass. : lambie to jordaan in toulon game.what i would like to see is the sharks thinking to develop on this play,since the defences will look at this now.that said,if the situation is the same and skills executed properly,the result should still be the same.options: inside pass from no10,show-and-go from no10 with a hand-off and go for line with option of off-load/pass to support players inside or outside.think this is more lambie’s game than joe or april. skip pass to wing.or even the wing coming off hils line to run onto the pass or the line and then to pass behind wing to jordaan who runs the wide angle outside.key will be for jordaan to communicate loudly he is coming for the pass,so as to draw defenders,.

  • Comment 34, posted at 02.03.16 08:24:22 by 50shadesofshark Reply

     
  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 31) : I’m hope I’m not coming across as critical of the decision, I love our more adventurous flair to date. What I’m trying to get at is in 2015, a pass like that was probably even less likely to pay off than a drop kick. So, in conclusion, I was sceptical of the play when I saw it unfolding and now I want more of that 😀

  • Comment 35, posted at 02.03.16 08:29:20 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    vanmartin
     
  • @vanmartin (Comment 35) : not wanting to overplay the armchair coach thing 😀 but i would like to see better control of possession and placing of ball for no9 at rucks.

  • Comment 36, posted at 02.03.16 08:41:15 by 50shadesofshark Reply

     
  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 33) : Really good analysis there DB!

    @50shadesofshark (Comment 34) : unfortunately did not get to see the France games. Heard good things via twitter. Anyway something has definitely improved with comms in the backline. Hell yeah to more of that and variations of.

    @50shadesofshark (Comment 36) : I would like to see that too. I’m even less of an expert at rucks after last weekend, but I get the feeling that our guys sometimes hold the ball close to the chest when tackled rather than placing it out of reach from thieving paws.

  • Comment 37, posted at 02.03.16 09:29:53 by gregkaos Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    gregkaos
     

Add Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.