Alistair Hargreaves

Easter, injuries and revenge

2011-04-26 12:53
Sport24 columnist Alistair Hargreaves (File)
Alistair Hargreaves

It’s been a great long weekend in Durban. Perfect weather (which is rare for an Easter weekend), five points in the bag from the clash with the Hurricanes on Saturday, and a few too many Easter eggs eaten, ensured that I climbed into bed with a smile on my face on Sunday night.

The Hurricanes were a team not to be taken lightly, even given their recent poor run of form, and the result on the weekend goes a long way to prove the Sharks are starting to step up to the plate.

After much media hype, John Smit led the team as only he can do – brilliantly. It was fantastic to see him flying around the park in a display, which just proves, yet again, I might add, how invaluable he is to South African rugby. 

Patrick Lambie returned from finger surgery, and how fantastic it was to see him back in black marshalling the backline.

In a tournament as long and competitive as Super Rugby, it’s vital to be on top of your game, week in and week out. Having recently enjoyed a bye week, it’s pleasing to see the team looking refreshed and ready to tackle the business end of the competition.

I’ve been out of action for a couple of games now, nursing a fracture to my shoulder since the Stormers game in Durban on 2 April. Although it’s naturally been frustrating, I’m really pleased with the progress I’ve made, and will be raring to go come Saturday evening down at Newlands.

Preparing for the Stormers in Cape Town always makes for an exciting week, and considering the intense battle for log points in the SA conference, this week will be no different.

The boys in blue and white have enjoyed a stellar season so far, with their team really starting to look like a settled outfit capable of lifting the cup, but not if we can help it! We were disappointed after the reverse fixture in Durban, which we lost 6-16, and that alone is a huge motivating factor heading into this weekend’s showdown.

The Stormers are coming off a bye, and it will be interesting to see what kind of impact it will have on them. The byes are a vital component in such a long tournament and I really feel like our bye week did us plenty of good.

With a large Springbok training squad recently announced (myself included) there will be lot of interesting personal duels on display at Newlands. It is sure to add some niggle and spice to an already hot fixture.

Defensively the Stormers have been really strong, and the challenge for us is to get in behind them and make them work, make them tackle by holding onto the ball consistently for 5, 6, 7 + phases.

They only managed to breach our line once at Kings Park, but with Peter Grant’s ability to slot goal kicks over from anywhere in our half; our discipline will really have to take a step up from last time.

It’s bound to be another cracking week of Super Rugby, and I can’t wait to get back onto the park. And what an occasion to do so! It’s a classic battle for the number one spot in the South African conference contested by two rival teams who have a history of producing fantastic rugby.

There are fierce positional battles on the cards, pride on the line, and amends to be made by a Sharks team desperate to improve upon their previous performance against the Cape side. It’s poised to be an epic.

Alistair Hargreaves was educated at Durban High School and captained the SA Schools side in 2004. Besides being a stalwart in the Sharks' second row, he's also played two Tests for the Springboks.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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