Sharks need to smarten up

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 6 Mar 2018 at 10:10
Tagged with : , , , , , , ,

Ah pragmatism, eh? So often the mortal enemy of “entertaining, bums-on-seats” rugby, the sort of thing we’ve been promised time and again, the rugby that’s going to revive the bygone spirit of the Banana Boys and fill the Park with screaming fans, dressed head to toe in black and white.

I’m not quite old enough to remember the Natal sides of the 80s and before, but if the misty-eyed recollections of the faithful are to be believed, those teams ran everything, had a never-say-die attitude and were always fun to watch. They didn’t win very often, though. Oh no. Winning, it seemed, came second to entertainment.

Now I’m not going to go overboard here and point too many fingers at coaches or players – after all, they’re really just trying to please everyone right now – but the reality we have to face here is that the Sharks lost (I mean drew, felt like a loss) against a poor Waratahs team simply through a lack of pragmatic, common sense on the day. There were two main aspects to this, I felt. Firstly, on a day when a slippery ball made handling difficult, the sensible thing to do would be to tighten up, keep the passes shorter and not attempt quite so many offloads and fifty-fifty passes. It’s a tough one to get right, though – Lukhanyo Am’s first try would not have happened without two great offloads, one from Andre Esterhuizen and another from Louis Schreuder. On the flip side, the Waratahs’ first try came directly from field position caused by a very poor decision from Keegan Daniel to pass a ball that he should have held onto.

Secondly, the Sharks were guilty of frankly rank amateur game management in the second half. It was never going to be more than a 7-10 point game, given the conditions and they had seen how the Waratahs could punish mistakes. Why then, after scoring, did they not slow down and consolidate? Not to pick on Daniel overly, but again, a brain-fart decision from a senior player to take a quick lineout when helter-skelter was no longer necessary led directly to an opposition try. Curwin Bosch and the rest of the team were no less guilty later on – Bosch in failing to find touch with an important clearance kick and the others for losing sight of the defensive basics immediately afterwards.

The Sharks need to learn from this and do so quickly. “Earn the right to go wide” and whatnot is another great cliché we hear often, but more so than that, the Sharks need to remember that playing an attack-focused game does not mean you can forget the basics, however unsexy they may be. I’m hoping to see a far more balanced performance this weekend, with those great-try scoring moments not overshadowed by defensive softness at the other end.


  • I have to agree 100%. We were by far the better side on the field, however our mediocre decision making and poor game management was our downfall. Yes the offloads look brilliant when they work as seen in some of our tries. But it also looks kak if it doesn’t work. So I agree with Rob on this one. We have to “soften” up the Sunwolves first and earn our right to go wide. I reckon if we follow a softening up gameplan we will run away with it in the last quarter

  • Comment 1, posted at 06.03.18 10:36:17 by Fox Reply
  • About right, and take the gimme 3 pointers when on offer – far easier than trying to nail a drop goal or penalty from within your own half of the field.

  • Comment 2, posted at 06.03.18 10:38:30 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 2) : ah yeah – that’s the third leg of the potjie-pot. Scoreboard pressure

  • Comment 3, posted at 06.03.18 10:39:49 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Have to say it again but its the silly decision making that is once again costing the Sharks. The what to do in each situation is something Sharks sides seem to struggle with. As was said there is a time and place on the field to try something in terms of an offload or grubber/chip kick etc but that is definitely not in your own half and in very humid conditions when your handling is at best mediocre.

  • Comment 4, posted at 06.03.18 11:12:30 by SheldonK Reply

  • Why is it so easy for us coach coaches to identify what game plan is payed when? Guys that actually get paid a fortune do not know this?

  • Comment 5, posted at 06.03.18 11:18:16 by GreatSharksays Reply

  • Agree 100% Rob. This weekend we need the bonus point win. If we can keep the Sunwolves from scoring, while punishing their mistakes, three tries would be all that’s required to achieve this. No use in aiming for a 50+ point margin that would essentially produce the same result. Our points difference aren’t too bad just yet.

  • Comment 6, posted at 06.03.18 11:28:09 by boertjie101 Reply

  • There were glimpses of what this backline can do, and when those passes start to stick they will be unbelievable. As for the forwards, it all looks like the same old same. No glimpses of improvement.

    The coaches need to sort out the handling problems that have plagued the Sharks for many seasons now. Fix this and things will look 100% better.

  • Comment 7, posted at 06.03.18 12:07:20 by Sagroup Reply

  • Decision making, decision making, decision making. That is the age old SA problem. The players seem comfortable in a formulaic one-dimensional game plan (e.g. Jake-ball), but we know that no longer works. Getting these guys to take the right options most of the time while playing a dynamic game is going to take a lot of time unfortunately.

    I am concerned about our forward pack though (refreshing for a change). We can’t seem to put a proper maul together nowadays. The lineout seems to be a problem all of a sudden and I am still not convinced about the scrum (Tahs not really a test).

  • Comment 8, posted at 06.03.18 13:10:31 by Bokhoring Reply
  • Totally missed the game but was able to watch a bit today. Sharks needs to improve a lot on their accuracy and will have to improve their ball retention if they wish to challenge the top NZ teams!!!
    But must say not all bad news as the backs is looking full of running and at time the forwards is looking dominant!!!
    Slow start but think they can still finish in playoffs!

  • Comment 9, posted at 06.03.18 14:00:59 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
  • We go from pragmatic percentage rugby to this from Currie Cup to Super Rugby, why can’t we balance things out. Play power rugby up front through forward domination and allow the backs to play with good ball?
    As you say, some of the skills on display and some of the decisions were rank amateurish.

  • Comment 10, posted at 06.03.18 17:31:23 by Richard Reply

  • Off topic a bit but interesting viewing for those who want to see how the game is developing

    First of a 3 part series

    The 1014 Rugby Analysis – Modern Rugby – Part 1 of 3 – An Overview

  • Comment 11, posted at 06.03.18 17:54:03 by Baylion Reply

  • @Baylion (Comment 11) : Those guys have some good content in their videos, but it gets to me how they sometimes don’t finish their sentences with actual words…

  • Comment 12, posted at 07.03.18 07:23:45 by Karl Reply

  • I also dont think we realise how much it has affected us to not have our first choice loose trio available. The Dup twins and Van der Walt was sorely missed on saturday. Where number’s 6, 7 and 8 are usually our most influental players on the field, against the tahs they were our worst 🙁

  • Comment 13, posted at 07.03.18 09:21:30 by tigershark Reply

  • @tigershark (Comment 13) : Yes and taking into consideration that we are only playing our 3rd match this weekend I won’t predict and doom and gloom as yet especially if you look at the players we are missing. We did miss a great opportunity with the Tahs game though but all we can do is hope the guys don’t repeat the same mistakes.

    I want to say that I feel this team is close to gelling well, but I won’t be able to say it with confidence yet so I’ll hold onto it for now.

    Our tour will essentially define our season, we simply have to get at the very least 2 wins and 2 BP’s from it. The BP’s will be very important later in the comp.

  • Comment 14, posted at 07.03.18 10:10:57 by Quintin Reply

  • @Richard (Comment 10) : I wonder if its not a case of them thinking that we dont have the armoury to play the power game up front at the moment, the Currie Cup final and Lions game this year may just haev had something to do with that.

  • Comment 15, posted at 07.03.18 10:38:14 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • @Richard (Comment 10) : That only works if your forwards are streets ahead of the opposition. That rarely happens nowadays.

    I had no qualms about our attack actually, apart from decision making at some critical points. The three tries we scored were top class.

    It was rather how we managed the game that was disappointing. It was disappointing that every time we pulled ahead we let them back in the game through soft tries.

  • Comment 16, posted at 07.03.18 10:59:12 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @Baylion (Comment 11) : Very interesting – a structured approach to unpredictability.

  • Comment 17, posted at 07.03.18 10:59:51 by Bokhoring Reply
  • Does anyone know when the Dup bro’s and Philip waill be back?

  • Comment 18, posted at 07.03.18 11:43:17 by tigershark Reply

  • As far as the lineup goes I’d like to see Bosch start at 15 with Mapimpi back in for Van Wyk. Perhaps give big Andre a rest before the tour and let Louw show us his skills. Loosies and locks disappointed last week and owe us a big game this weekend.

  • Comment 19, posted at 07.03.18 12:56:51 by Dustin Emslie Reply

  • @Dustin Emslie (Comment 19) : Van Wyk did much better on defense than Mapimpi would have under those circumstances. We need to keep him to settle. Mapimpi on impact maybe. I would also like to know when or if Zas will be deployed. Bosch should cover 10 but he needs to cover 15 and wing. Isn’t that why he was recruited? Akker needs to start so does either Johny Meyer or Ross G. Tommie the tank can play TH last 15 minutes maybe but not whole game. In fact I would start him at loose with a real TH then move him to TH and bring beast on impact as LH. Still don’t know how the loose trio will look but lewies and Botha can do the job at Lock they need to wake up. I would also give schreuder another chance to start at scrummie. Last week was only some rustyness I’m sure. Rob dup will get better I’ll keep backing him as starting FH. Centers are perfect the way they are. If needs be mapimpi can relieve Nkosi is he is she’ll shocked again.

  • Comment 20, posted at 07.03.18 14:01:22 by coolfusion Reply

  • @coolfusion (Comment 20) : Meant to say if Nkosi is shell shocked again. Trying to offload or play unsecure ball the whole time put a taint on his game which is usually very nice to watch.

  • Comment 21, posted at 07.03.18 14:03:05 by coolfusion Reply

  • @coolfusion (Comment 20) : Disagree with you on Nkosi and Van Wyk. Nkosi made a few mistakes but was huge on defence and very committed throughout. Van Wyk lacked commitment on defence. Mapimpi did not lack commitment against the lions. I would rather have a player who gives every thing on attack and defence than 1 who is more skilled but doesn’t give 100% to the team effort. Look at what Wyk does during the Tahs last try compared to Nkosi and even Tyler Paul.

  • Comment 22, posted at 07.03.18 17:35:12 by sudhir Reply

  • @sudhir (Comment 22) : Van Wyk has become quite lazy (strange as he use to show a lot more commitment in previous years), but Mapimpi really was a revolving door in the Lions game.

  • Comment 23, posted at 07.03.18 17:46:37 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 23) : Also it’s one game really and he was coming back into thingd. I think he will shape up. He was one of our best last year I doubt he just lost that overnight. I also can’t fault his entire game. He was defending.

  • Comment 24, posted at 08.03.18 06:14:12 by coolfusion Reply


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