The football doesn't stop!

The 2014 SWC might be over, but the PSL and English Premiership are around the corner! Have your say on our Forum!

LIVE

    Sharks' lesser lights a key?

    2011-06-23 11:24
    Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

    Cape Town – The Sharks jigsaw, so often a confusing sea of scattered pieces this season, suddenly seems to fit rather snugly.

    Whether this slightly unexpected state of affairs will be enough to see them past firm favourites the Crusaders in their Super Rugby “quarter-final” at Nelson on Saturday (09:35 SA time) remains to be seen, but if their new-look combo can click even more convincingly than they did in the terrific Loftus dismantling of the Bulls, they will give at least a spirited account of themselves against the seven-times champions.

    Then again, Sharks supporters of more cynical inclination will be quick to retort that there have been other stages in the current season – especially early on -- when they seemed an irresistible force, only to lose their mojo in a pretty pronounced way.

    Yet there is perhaps reason to believe that, in the team which took to the field in Pretoria, lies more than a semblance of hope for a late flourish in the campaign.

    Why, three good days at the office and the Sharks might even be maiden champions; much stranger things have happened in sport, after all!

    Whether by accident or design, and maybe there was a bit of both involved, John Plumtree appeared to smack all 15 of his starting “pegs” into the ground quite brilliantly last Saturday – to such an extent that prodigious tampering (or any at all) with the run-on troops for the big challenge ahead in New Zealand seemed most unlikely by the coach if injuries have stayed away.

    A particularly pleasing feature of last Saturday, I thought, was the way some Sharks players who have mostly veered toward mediocrity this season contributed to the upset.

    Just one was Gerhard Mostert: probably only getting his start because of (ongoing) injury to Steven Sykes, the former Lions lock produced a near-classical No 4 display, making some aggressive, high-paced carries and doing his unglamorous donkeywork well, too.

    The Sharks would have liked Sykes’ seasoned qualities for expected wet-weather conditions at Trafalgar Park, but the 120kg – thus very decently physically equipped -- Mostert will be anything but a liability if he has a bee in his bonnet once more.

    It was he who made a strong (and so often important) early statement at Loftus when, before the first minute had run its course, he grabbed nuggety Bulls scrumhalf Francois Hougaard and dragged him backwards like a rag doll for 10 metres or so.

    A couple of other less obvious Sharks “pin-ups”, if you like, also produced the goods encouragingly that day.

    As popular former skipper Gary Teichmann observed to Sport24 this week, it was gratifying to see Meyer Bosman come to the party at inside centre – particularly in a committed defensive capacity, where the Sharks midfield has come under the microscope for all the wrong reasons too frequently this season.

    Of course the Sharks’ resilience in this area of the park is bound to be severely tested once more: Sonny Bill Williams and Dan Carter, as sure as New Zealand produces good white wines, will have a ball-in-hand crack at the rival Nos 12 and 10 channels occupied by Messrs Bosman and Freddie Michalak respectively.

    Also reason to up the likelihood of a concerted late-campaign flourish by the Sharks, is the return of scrumhalf Charl McLeod to the kind of personal levels last witnessed in their Currie Cup-winning season last year.

    Of late he has been much more effervescent and decisive than had been the case during some of the Sharks’ strange “trough” periods in Super Rugby conference play, when errors crept into his play to a frustrating extent.

    Too regularly, the Sharks have relied on the consistent muscularity and work-rate of people like Bismarck du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira and Willem Alberts for any go-forward they’ve enjoyed, and also depended too much for backline thrust and flair on JP Pietersen and Pat Lambie.

    A repeat of the more genuinely “collective” effort, so harmoniously evidenced in Pretoria, would go some way to securing an upset this Saturday ...

    Read News24’s Comments Policy

    24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

    Comment on this story
    57 comments
    Add your comment
    Comment 0 characters remaining
    Live Video Streaming
    • SS3
      Mon, 28 Jul 2014 @04:00
    • SS4
      Mon, 28 Jul 2014 @05:00
    • SS7
      Mon, 28 Jul 2014 @06:00
    • SS5
      Mon, 28 Jul 2014 @06:00
    Video Highlights
    Sport Talk

    Fixtures

    02 August 2014
    • Waratahs v Crusaders, Sydney 11:40

    Results

    26 July 2014
    19 July 2014
    12 July 2014
    11 July 2014
    06 July 2014
    05 July 2014
    04 July 2014
    28 June 2014
    27 June 2014
    31 May 2014
    30 May 2014
    24 May 2014
    23 May 2014
    18 May 2014
    17 May 2014
    16 May 2014
    11 May 2014
    10 May 2014
    09 May 2014
    03 May 2014
    02 May 2014
    26 April 2014
    25 April 2014
    19 April 2014
    18 April 2014
    12 April 2014
    11 April 2014
    05 April 2014
    04 April 2014
    29 March 2014
    28 March 2014
    22 March 2014
    21 March 2014
    15 March 2014
    14 March 2014
    08 March 2014
    07 March 2014
    01 March 2014
    28 February 2014
    23 February 2014
    22 February 2014
    21 February 2014
    15 February 2014

    Logs

    Rank Team P W Pts

    EXPERT OPINION

    “Advantage is a great part of rugby, says Tank Lanning, but it allows for lots of personal interpretation, hence Victor Matfield’s tirade. ”

    Opinion Poll

    The 2014 Vodacom Super Rugby final will be contested between the Waratahs and Crusaders. Who is your money on?

    Soccer World Cup quiz!

    TAKE THE QUIZ
    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.