Sharks stumbling block?

2010-04-26 15:30

Gavin Rich

Durban - There is a Shark alert out for the Bulls and the Stormers – and the two South African Super 14 high flyers must take it seriously if the coming derby matches are not to derail their challenge.

The Sharks, after losing their first five games, have completely turned around their season, with Saturday’s impressive 23-10 win over the Blues thoroughly vindicating the theory that winning has started to become as much of a habit for the Durbanites as losing was for them earlier in the year.

Back in February and March, the Sharks were down on confidence and they did not always look or play like a united team. They came close in some games, but luck conspired against them, and they learned the truth behind the old saying that you have to make your own luck.

They also did not play particularly intelligent rugby in those first five games, and were punished for it.

However, it was felt that one win, thus showing them that they could indeed still get over the line and win, could change their season, and that is what has happened after their win over the Highlanders in Dunedin in their second last tour match.

Since then they have beaten the Hurricanes away, the Reds at home, the Lions away and now the Blues at home. Apart from continuing the South African dominance (from the top three local teams) against New Zealand sides, it looks in retrospect that the Sharks might also have done the other sides a massive favour with that narrow win over the Reds on Easter Saturday.

But while South African fans would have been enjoying the Sharks resurgence, there should always have been the nagging feeling that the Sharks running into form in the second half of the competition could prove a stumbling block for the Bulls and Stormers. The Bulls face the Sharks in Pretoria this coming weekend, and the Stormers go to Durban the week after.

And the bad news for those two teams is that there is no sign from Durban that the Sharks want to let up now that their failure to secure a bonus point win against the Blues has all but ruled them out of semifinal contention.

In the years of Super 14 rugby 41 log points has been the minimum requirement to qualify for the semifinals, and even if the Sharks get a full house of five log points in their three remaining games, that will only be enough to take them to 40.

The attitude from the Sharks though is that “you never know what might happen”, and anyway they appear to really enjoy being on the winning side again after their struggles from earlier in the year.

Against the Blues they sounded a warning to future opponents with a strong showing from the pack and a pragmatic approach that set up a massive territorial advantage that they didn’t always take full advantage of.

Some might criticise them for not carrying the ball enough against the Blues, but the early high ball bombs launched onto the Blues played a big role in setting up the momentum that the Sharks never relinquished except for a 20 minute period in the first half where some tackles were slipped and the Blues took a 10-3 lead.

Bismarck du Plessis appears to be returning to his best at just the right time, John Smit appears to have found a comfortable home for himself at loosehead prop, and you could say the same about Stefan Terblanche’s switch to outside centre.

But perhaps the best of them has been a man who, rather than having been moved to a new position is instead returning to his old one. With each week Ruan Pienaar starts looking more like the top scrumhalf he was before the national selectors decided to play musical chairs with him by converting him into a flyhalf and fullback.


  • BLOUBUL - 2010-04-26 16:29

    Al wat jy net sien is BLOU MASJIEN!

  • Mole - 2010-04-26 16:36

    Yes, the Sharks are looking more and more like a team, and I truly hope that all the Shark-bashing at the beginning of the year come back to bite the Bulls, and especially the cocky Stormers fans.... Go sharks, 3 from 3. Lets deal with the Bulls first though ;) The Bok selectors have never had so much talent to choose from!! Bring on 2011!!

  • Jan - 2010-04-26 16:41

    John Smit started his Super career at loosehead prop. Take note Pieter de Villiers. Put your captain in his best position. You have enough other players to fill the gaps. Beast can then become a super sub when you move John to hooker for the last 20 minutes.

  • Mac - 2010-04-26 17:03

    It should not be any other way. The Stormers and Bulls need to earn the right to be champions by beating the Sharks. Anything less and they will not be deserving of a final berth.. A mouth watering prospect lie ahead. I predict a losss to the Bulls and a win for the Stormers.

  • Gerrit - 2010-04-26 17:05

    Ja, ons is almal baie bly dat die Sharks besluit het om 'n bietjie na die party te kom. Maar ek sal nie geld wed op hulle om die Bulls of die Stormers te wen nie. Sharks is net nie op die selfde level nie.

  • The Godfather - 2010-04-26 17:17

    Lets not get ahead of ourselvles. The teams the Sharks have beaten away have not really been title contenders this year. The Highlanders, Lions and even the Hurricanes have only been a shadow of the team of previous seasons. Yes good wins against the Reds and Blues at home, but you always have to back the side with home advantage. So lets not start dusting off the champange bottle just yet...

  • William Shakespeare - 2010-04-26 18:25

    Fishpaste. Al wat jy sien is die Blou Masjien

  • Dave - 2010-04-26 20:08

    The aussies are whinning about refs....imagine if the sharks had not been on the receiving end of 2 bad blunders which cost them 2 wins they would be in semi finals fight offs as well.

  • Croix - 2010-04-26 21:35

    Go boys - drive home those teeth into the Bulls' rumps ! Please shut up the 'blou masjien'!

  • BALSAK(alias BBH) - 2010-04-27 06:29

    The stormers now FOCUS on the playoffs. It's Blue and White!! Stormers for life!!!

  • Mike - 2010-04-27 08:54

    I'm pretty sure the Bulls will qualify, very likely for a home semi, but the Stormers are another story. Perennial disappointments at the quality end of the S14, they could well lose their last 3 games on the trot and miss the semis altogether. For SA pride, I hope not but I certainly dont want them to beat my Sharks and I cant see them beating the Bulls so that leaves only the Crusaders. It's a big ask for a pack that is starting to show wear and tear. The Crusaders can afford to lose and still qualify but dont expect any favours.....

  • Bulls man - 2010-04-27 11:50

    All I would like to add is this. I am looking forward to the next few weeks. Imagine: Bulls vs Sharks, Stormers vs Sharks, Bulls vs Stormers. I could not think of more exciting rugby. Can't wait. And if my team lose, I don't mind, and if they win, Awesome. Please mr Ref, let it be because of the teams on the field and not mistakes by you...

  • NouDieBlou - 2010-04-27 13:40

    impressive 23-10 win ???- that wasnt impressive cos the Blues are playing like t**** , there are ONLY 2 teams heading for the final and thats the the Bulls and the Reds , forget the Stormers because the next 3 games will backfire against them and as for earning the right to be champions by beating the Sharks - what utter nonsense - the Bulls dont have to beat under achievers like Sharks to prove anything , Sharks only managed to win their games cos the other teams slumped.Wether you like it or not there was and there is only 1 great team in SA at the moment and thats the Bulls .Even if they dont lift the trophy it is a pleasure to watch them play Rugby and not the rubbish thats dished out by other SA teams besides the Stormers.

  • MandiJ - 2010-04-28 09:15

    The great white machine is back in motion and is heading for loftus to chow blue bull boltong

  • Dr Greenblood - 2010-04-28 13:21

    @NouDieBlou Seriously dude, that extra chromosome 23 must be inhibiting your ability to analyse rugby matches. I initially got the impression you havn't watched any games except for Bulld games, but it seems actually you havn't even watched bulld games. With the exception of the last game againts the Lions (as if that's anything to go by), the last part of their campaign has been pretty disappointing. Atleast the Sharks and the Stormers have IMPROVED as the season went along. The Bulls have lost their initial form BADLY! Only an idiot believes that in order to be a true supporter you automatically have to believe all other teams are crap.

  • Sharkie - 2010-04-28 13:28

    @Noudieblou... It's arrogant p****s like you that gives the Blue Bulls a bad name. The Sharks did play very badly in the beginning of the season but they have really lifted their game since. If my memory is correct, didn't the "mighty" Bulls lose against the Reds and the Sharks beat them? The Sharks might've been stronger on the log had it not been for the game against the Tahs where they were robbed. So please do us all a favour and stop letting that s***t come out of your mouth and actually watch other teams play and not just catch the scores on DSTV. I really hope that because of idiot supporters like you that the Sharks KILL the Bulls this weekend. Btw, I'm a huge Sharks supporter and will always stick with them and I will admit that the Bulls are playing good rugby and that we wanna see SA teams in the semi's and Final BUT for this weekend i hope the Bulls get slaughtered

  • brombeer - 2010-04-28 14:34

    noudieblou , hou jou bek en gaan leer wat is rugby jy weet duidelik net mooi niks, jy is soos n blou bul n roemer tjom... julle weet fo..ol

  • blondie - 2010-04-28 14:57

    Noudieblou jy is seker die patetieste verskoning vir n rugby supporter wat ek in my lewe gesien het...23-10 was n great oorwinning vir die Sharks waar die bulle teen die BLUES en die REDS VERLOOR het en die Sharks hulle gewen het...dis dom d***e soos jy wat maak dat ons die bulle haat....SO die Sharks wen want die ander speel k@k...dieselfde geld vir die bulle a********** die ander spanne beter gespeel het het die bulle meer as eenkeer pak gekry...Dis miskien te laat vir die Sharks maar ek hoop hulle en die Stormers gee die bulle n MOERSE pakslae...dan wil ek julle bekke hoor....Ons staan nou al die pad agter die STORMERS......want hulle supporters is nie sulke arrogante p****e soos jy nie......

  • EasyB - 2010-04-28 15:51

    Blondie - Eet jy met daai bek. Sies. Jy klink sommer al klaar soos 'n stormer supporter. HAK HAK HAK, DIE STOMERS IS KAK.

  • Bloutrein - 2010-04-28 16:24

    JAJA, daar is nog nie een span in SA wat dit kon reg kry om in een seisoen, al hulle tuis games met 50 talle te wen nie, so ja ek dink die Bulle speel great Rugby. Wys net hoe goed is hulle hulle kan verloor teen die Reds en eindig nog steeds bo op die log. Moet nie die Stormers weg gooi nie, speel ook skitterend! great, maar die bulle sal hulle Finals hope trash in the last game of the tournament on their on field, awesome bulle. Well done to the Sharks, Done some great work so far, but now it ends. Still think that John is the hooker for the Boks. GO BULLE wen die haai span, Haai kan nie swem in dei boland nie.

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