Vodacom Super 14

Sharks still show self-belief

2010-04-19 22:32
Mark Andrews (Gallo Images)
Stephen Nell

Cape Town – It’s probably too late for the Sharks to make the semi-finals of the Super 14, but don’t try and tell their players that.

Even if they are not among the top four teams at the end of play on May 15, they no doubt have a major role to play in the South African challenge.

Their next game is against the Blues in Durban and that is followed by key derby games against the Bulls away and the Stormers at home.

“Those derby games are going to be very intense. The Bulls and Stormers should actually be hoping that the Sharks beat the Blues. If the Sharks lose, all the pressure is shifted onto the Bulls and Stormers,” said former Springbok and Sharks lock Mark Andrews.

“Every game is do-or-die for the Sharks now. The approach will be to take it game by game and not to think about what is awaiting them in two weeks’ time

“I have spoken to a few players there and they definitely believe they are still in with a chance for the semi-finals.”

After a poor start in which they lost their first five games, the Sharks have recovered well and won their last four games.

The revival started in New Zealand against the Highlanders and since then they have beaten the Hurricanes, Reds and Lions.

The least number of points with which any team has qualified for the semi-finals since the advent of the Super 14 in 2006 is 38. The Bulls edged the Sharks and Brumbies on points difference that year.

In 2007 the Blues made fourth place with 42 points, and in 2008 and 2009 the Hurricanes and Crusaders were placed fourth respectively on 41.

Points difference made a significant difference the past two years in making it to fourth, with the Stormers and Waratahs not making it in 2008 and 2009 respectively.

Andrews believes the Sharks are playing to their traditional strengths again.

“It looks as if John Smit has settled in at loosehead prop and the forwards have settled down. They are playing on the front foot with momentum again,” he said.

While the Sharks are favoured to beat the Blues, the Kiwi side will be highly motivated.

After the Sharks they are still playing against the Cheetahs and Lions on their South African tour and they will therefore feel they are strong candidates to slip into the semi-finals via the back door.

However, neither the Bulls nor the Stormers will be sleeping easily about the prospect of still having to face the Sharks.

Read more on:    sharks  |  super 14

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