Going the distance

Written by Stephen Smith (StevieS)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 23 Oct 2018 at 09:20
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , ,

Hi, Sharks fans

First off, well done to the lads on a brilliant result against the Lions on Saturday. I was at the game and had my heart in my mouth for one or two moments, but the Sharks showed composure to get the win, and they will be all the better on Saturday for a hard-earned victory.

Some highlights for me, Jeremy Ward showing composure and quiet brilliance on attack and defence. We have a gem in him that will shine next year; S’bu Nkosi dominated Dyantyi (I am a fan of his) and looks hungry for game time; Fassi showing astonishing pace to take down Dyantyi, then composure under pressure to gather up the ball and counter-attack; and finally that underrated player, Marius Louw. He is a real handful and we are blessed with abundant stock at centre for next year’s Super Rugby.

But before that we have the small matter of the Currie Cup Final to win and the Bok tour.

Now on to the crux of this article… can we go the distance?

I read an interesting article which questioned whether or not the Sharks forwards were fit enough to go the distance, the writer claiming to have been informed by a previous insider to watch for us to start slowly and finish slowly, and the more I read the more worried I became. I will highlight the points for you:

· The Sharks start slowly and finish slowly, so we are at our most lethal from minutes 20 to 60
· Opposition teams have identified this, the Lions coach stating in the buildup to the semi-final that they just have to be in touch by the last 20 minutes and they can win the game
· This trend was identified from our matches against the Lions, Griquas and WP in the league phase. Think back to the WP game specifically and we came back strongly to be only a point or two behind Province before they blew us out the water in the last 20.
· Now think to last year’s final against the very same WP, we were dominant, then they fought back and we all know what happened. The point is, they really opened up in the final 20 yet again.
· So now we are seeing a trend, the Sharks are hanging on for the win in tight clashes only if they have sufficient points on the board and are not dominating the closing stages of games.
· This may go a long way to explaining the inconsistencies we saw from the Sharks in Super Rugby.

Now, I have no solutions as I am not a fitness expert, but the obvious place to start is to look at how our players are conditioned and to really make use of squad rotation, surely we have the players to be able to do so?


  • I think the Sharks forwards are good but they are heavy in general so do tire with the game plan employed. It is why we need a bench with strong forwards even if we dont start with our optimal pack.

  • Comment 1, posted at 23.10.18 09:59:09 by SheldonK Reply
  • Peyper to ref the final.

  • Comment 2, posted at 23.10.18 10:15:50 by McLovin Reply
  • I am more worried about messy lineouts and then an overall mental collapse that let the Lions back into the game.

  • Comment 3, posted at 23.10.18 10:16:36 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 3) : That wind was crazy last weekend but not sure why we didnt go to front of the lineout more then. Perhaps they thought they didnt have the speed to get up in the front.

  • Comment 4, posted at 23.10.18 10:18:28 by SheldonK Reply

  • @McLovin (Comment 2) : Probably makes sense – just keep Secnds far away from the pitch. He was called out on his favourable to WP performance big time.

  • Comment 5, posted at 23.10.18 11:03:46 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • @SheldonK (Comment 4) : I guess the lob throw would have been problematic with the wind, but those low straight throws towards the middle of the lineout were just asking to be taken by the Lions

  • Comment 6, posted at 23.10.18 15:28:03 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 6) : I honestly dont think any of our current SA hookers throw the ball in well. I also dont think our lifters are doing a great job. If i look at someone like Matfield…he got much higher off the groud due to good lifters but also he received very accurate throws from his hookers. Trust me if Matfield had todays hookers throwing at him he wouldnt have been as effective. Modern day hookers more concerned about stealing balls at rucks than linout throwing.

  • Comment 7, posted at 23.10.18 15:34:45 by SheldonK Reply

  • Thanks Stevie…nice write up…
    First off: Moment of the Match for me on Saturday was that Jeremy Ward tackle on Elton…wow. Ward was excellent all game. One of my best friends is an accredited photographer at King’ s Park and he got an absolute beautiful of that tackle. It’s my new favourite photo 😀
    Second up: I also read that article…and it may have something to it. But looking at the game again, the Lions never dominated. They scored two turnover tries – one of them a freak including an intercept and the other with a big forward offload. The Sharks did not implode, they just got too loose. Once the Lions got close the Sharks tightened up, reasserted themselves, scored and then calmly closed out the game. I liked what I saw in the last 10 minutes.

  • Comment 8, posted at 24.10.18 06:33:43 by pastorshark Reply
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  • Ice Ice Baby? 😯 😆

    What in the name of all that is holy and unholy is that about? 🙄

  • Comment 9, posted at 24.10.18 07:43:11 by McLovin Reply

  • @pastorshark (Comment 8) : Yeh a pretty fair assessment that

  • Comment 10, posted at 24.10.18 08:23:43 by SheldonK Reply

  • @McLovin (Comment 9) : That was not supposed to have been in the public domain yet. It was part of a cunning plan from the Sharks to release the video on social media just prior to the final, so that the Province players would be too distracted with mirth to concentrate during the game. Unfortunately that plan is no longer feasible due to the video having been leaked.

  • Comment 11, posted at 24.10.18 11:26:03 by Culling Song Reply
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    Culling Song
  • @pastorshark (Comment 8) : Thanks for that 😀

    I see what you’re saying, and the Sharks did tighten up, but maybe we got loose in the first place because players lost concentration due to fitness issues? Just a suggestion.

    P.s. That tackle on Elton was a thing of beauty 😆

  • Comment 12, posted at 24.10.18 12:02:54 by StevieS Reply
  • @StevieS (Comment 12) : There is definitely some such issue. This is not the first game where it’s happened and always around the same time. In fact a few games now.

  • Comment 13, posted at 24.10.18 12:40:35 by coolfusion Reply

  • @coolfusion (Comment 13) : Hopefully something which will be rectified before Super Rugby next year.

  • Comment 14, posted at 24.10.18 15:00:59 by StevieS Reply
  • @StevieS (Comment 12) : You are basing your assumption on one game the WP game in all the others the Sharks did enough to win
    .Teams play to different rhythms it is impossible to play with 120% intensity for the entire game.Most coaches identify periods of the game in which to up the ante and in order to do it efficiently they need other periods to ease it.
    If you watch the All Blacks you will notice that the 10 minutes before and the 10 minutes after half time is when they give it maximum gears, it has nothing to do with their level of fitness in fact it is because of their level of fitness that they are able to do it.
    I have watched every Sharks home game this season, and serious pal, there have been no Matt Stevens or Trevor Njakane passengers on the field.
    In fact I would be keen to know who you have identified as the unfit players on the field.

  • Comment 15, posted at 24.10.18 15:10:09 by The hound Reply
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    The hound
  • @The hound (Comment 15) : I have no players to single out. I read the article about this on another site and it got me thinking about our up and down Super Rugby season and how teams tended to score against us at the end of games in the Currie Cup. It began to look like a trend to me.

  • Comment 16, posted at 24.10.18 15:14:05 by StevieS Reply
  • I’ll admit, when I read that article, I did agree, as the Sharks do tend to take their foot off the pedal, but after The Hound’s comment, I’m inclined to agree with him more… I was sitting next to the Sharks bench on the field during the Lions game in the group stages, and although the Lions mounted a half comeback at around 60 mins, I can t say that ANY of the Sharks guys coming off really looked like their lungs were burning all that much. Maybe RDP should surprise ole Dobbo and alter the “give it gears” time slot?

  • Comment 17, posted at 24.10.18 15:17:42 by Karl Reply

  • @Karl (Comment 17) : Hey, I’ll be happy to be wrong. Like I said, more just inference on my part of what we have seen during the year combined with what I’d read elsewhere.

  • Comment 18, posted at 24.10.18 15:23:01 by StevieS Reply
  • @StevieS (Comment 18) : I dont think you are far off the mark. The Sharks probbaly play a more forward orientated game then any side which is very sapping on the players, especially the heavier guys we have. It would also be quite evident in our game plan should those players tire or not be at their optimum as so much of our game plan revolves around them.

  • Comment 19, posted at 24.10.18 15:31:54 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 19) : Great points. Maybe why we need to rotate more during the season?

  • Comment 20, posted at 24.10.18 16:08:45 by StevieS Reply
  • @StevieS (Comment 20) : It look at replacements at the 50 55 min mark. If we have adequate like for like replacements.

  • Comment 21, posted at 24.10.18 16:12:17 by coolfusion Reply

  • @coolfusion (Comment 21) : I generally tend to agree with replacements around that time as well. Maybe a bit closer to 60 min for some, but that 10 min period.

  • Comment 22, posted at 24.10.18 16:16:14 by StevieS Reply
  • @StevieS (Comment 22) : I’ve seen WP start their push around that mark. Might be different for other teams but we definitely uses that particular window. Been timing them for 3 games now. So either have good impact players to sub with or ensure that absolute ball retention is the norm to starve them at their push. Which means no grubber no box kick just ball in hand and total focus and discipline to nullify their initiative.

  • Comment 24, posted at 24.10.18 18:53:47 by coolfusion Reply

  • @coolfusion (Comment 24) : If we can starve them absolutely during the push, say 10-15 mins Rob can comfortably bring subs at 65

  • Comment 25, posted at 24.10.18 18:57:14 by coolfusion Reply

  • @coolfusion (Comment 24) : If every second box kick results in possession for you, I would continue all night. But if every single box kick just surrenders possession, it annoys me when we just keep on doing it.

  • Comment 26, posted at 25.10.18 07:58:17 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @The hound (Comment 23) : Im not sure what any of the things you said points to the Sharks frowards not tiring in the last quarter of a game? Playing the whole game or being pissed off at being subbed is no indication that yo are performign optimally on the field. You mention those players that are super fit..based on?? and compared to? Fact is the Sharks play a vry forward orientated game which requires them to carry a lot, get off the floor quickly to clear ruck and then make tackles as well as scrum and lineouts. Fact is the Sharks have faded in the last quarter of a lot of games which is clearly evident if the forwards are tired having done a lot of energy sapping work. So not saying every forward is fat and unfit. Just that the game plan employed means guys will struggle to sustain that week in and week out playing that many minutes which is where rotation and clever use of the bench is key to keep players fresh.

  • Comment 27, posted at 25.10.18 08:09:23 by SheldonK Reply

  • @Bokhoring (Comment 26) : Agreed my point is at the time they make their push it needs to be absolute starvation tactics from our side. No kicking at all ball in hand and don’t go wide unless there is a mile wide gap or overlaps just be extra safe. Of course we need to be close in points or ahead at the time.

  • Comment 28, posted at 25.10.18 11:28:50 by coolfusion Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 27) : Agree with you. There seems to be mental fatigue too at that point.

  • Comment 29, posted at 25.10.18 11:29:42 by coolfusion Reply


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