Sharks make it 2 out of 2 (and 10 out of 10)

Written by Udo Lütge (pastorshark)

Posted in :Sharks, Super Rugby on 25 Feb 2019 at 17:19
Tagged with : , ,

The Sharks defeated the highly talked up Blues from New Zealand at (what fans are surely hoping will continue to be) their home fortress, King’s Park. They claimed a 26-7 bonus point win, ultimately prevailing in convincing fashion by 4 tries to 1.

While some scribes on the parochial South African rugby scene have underplayed the significance of this win, by focusing only on the Sharks “holding off” the Blues, this was a very good second building block in the wall that is the 2019 Super Rugby season. Regulars on this site who were at the game underlined just how hot and humid it was. In the recet past this was often used as an excuse for very shoddy performances by the home time. This time, however, the conditions – which in truth were extremely tough – did not stop the Sharks from playing some excellent rugby and outplaying the Blues for large parts of the game.

This was particularly true for the first 40 minutes – in truth, the Blues were played off the park. The Sharks showed solidity at the set pieces – later on some mistakes did creep into the lineout work and when Ruan Botha received a yellow card in the second half, the scrum did creek rather badly. What impressed most was the vision and execution on the counter attack. It seems as if the influence of new attack coach, David Williams, is already taking effect and the improvement is there for all to see. Nowhere was this more obvious than in the Sharks first try. An overthrow in a Blues lineout was snaffled by the Sharks, Lukanyo Am showed real vision with a pinpoint grubber that found space in behind the Blues defensive line, Makazole Mapimpi showed some creativity with his feet and good hands to put Aphelele Fassi over in the corner. The lineout drive played a big part in the two remaining tries of the first half, first sending Akker van der Merwe all the way over before laying the platform for Rob du Preez (jr) to step his way through the Blues defence and stretch over under the poles. The Sharks were oozing confidence and turned down a handfull of kickable penalties in order to set up attacking platforms. The score was 19-0 after a dominant first half, but in truth the score could have been quite a bit higher. Several opportunities to score were left out on the park and it the one area in which coach Rob du Preez (sr) will want his team to improve.

A much improved Blues side came out of the tunnel after halftime. Though most scribes and fans have spoken of the Sharks hanging on in the second half, this was not true for the first 10 minutes after the break. The Sharks came out firing and created 5 clear try-scoring opportunties. Again the finishing left a lot to be desired, with two of those opportunities being truly butchered with an open try line. Though the finishing was disappointing and the Sharks could have put the Blues to the sword, it must be pointed out that it is wonderful to see just how many opportunities this Sharks side is creating! Keep it up, men!! On another day and in better conditions this side will be difficult for opposition defences to contain.

The Sharks did brilliantly to keep the potent Blues pointless for three full quarters. It took 61 minutes for the Sharks defences to be breached…and that for the only time in the game. That was another impressive aspect of the Sharks game. Their defence, particularly in the 22 and on their try line was magnificant. They had to make 140 tackles – and they will not necessarily want to do that every game – but they made those tackles well and the defensive system looks solid. For the first time in a while it looks like the balance between attack and defence – or rather the ability to switch from the one to ther other – looks spot on.

There were some frustrating aspects to the refereeing, none more so than when New Zealander Paul Williams, clearly ignored the advice of the TMO who had spotted a Blues player kicking the ball out of replacement scrumhalf Cam Wright’s hands. What should have been a penalty to the Sharks became an attacking scrum to the Blues, who were looking to score a try to achieve a bonus point in the last couple of minutes of the game. Instead – in a bit of poetic justice that Sharks fans have not often experienced in recent years – the Sharks hammering defence caused a loose pass that was intercepted by Curwin Bosch, who ran in for the try under the sticks…and the Sharks has achieved the bonus point instead.

Speaking of Bosch, he was one of the guilty parties in butchering clear try-scoring opportunities…but it must also be said that the boy has wheels. he displayed his incredible pace on several occasions and did cause the Blues some real problems. Te Sharks players who caught the eye included Akker van der Merwe and Coenie Oosthuizen in the front row, Jacques Vermeulen in the no. 6 jersey and Lukhanyo Am (what a gem he is!!)…though to be fair, this was a real team effort and the whole squad deserves high prise for this result. There was initial concern that Sbu Nkosi had been badly injured when he left the field, but reports from the Sharks camp seem to indicate that he will be ready to face the Stormers this weekend.

So, the Sharks have started the season well…2 wins from 2 and 10 points from 10. That sees them sitting comfortably on top of the South African conference a full 5 points ahead of the chasing pack…but also on top of the overall log, with only the Crusaders also recording 2 wins, though both without a bonus point for a total of 8 points. The Sharks now need to recover from a bruising contest, before focusing on the Stormers in Durban this weekend. Sharks fans will be hoping that the (way to rare) consistency they have shown for two games in a row can be extended to three games…and many more after that!


  • Feels almost surreal to read that article, based on what we’ve witnessed in seasons past. I’ll admit, I’m glad to be proven wrong, as I was very worried about the Sharks not making any big signings!

  • Comment 1, posted at 25.02.19 17:56:46 by Karl Reply
  • The media report is very unfair. If you look at the game the blues are fortunate the score wasn’t more like a 30 to 35 point margin due to some tries gone begging and not lucky tries either, well worked positions just not finished off due to some indecision and some overeagerness.

  • Comment 2, posted at 25.02.19 18:17:22 by coolfusion Reply
  • @coolfusion (Comment 2) : Agreed…

  • Comment 3, posted at 25.02.19 20:19:56 by pastorshark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Administrator
  • @Karl (Comment 1) : I think one of the key factors is continuity. Of course there is still a long way to go, so I am not getting too far ahead of myself. But continuity is key…and losing players to other shores means 3 years of continuity is about the most you can hope for. In the absence of continuity you need rotation of players and a good supply line…both to create a bigger base of players…

  • Comment 4, posted at 25.02.19 20:25:49 by pastorshark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Administrator
  • The first time in recent history (since 2007) the Sharks have managed 10 log points in the first 2 games – all the more impressive in that it is more difficult with the current rules having to outscore your opponent by 3 tries.

  • Comment 5, posted at 25.02.19 20:34:20 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 5) : let’s hope that this team goes just one step better than the team of 2007… :mrgreen:

  • Comment 6, posted at 25.02.19 20:53:57 by pastorshark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Administrator

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