No need for Sharks to panic

2012-03-05 10:20

Gavin Rich - SuperSport

Johannesburg - The Sharks face the champion teams of the two competitions they compete in over the next fortnight and the pressure is on them to win both if they are to compete for South African conference honours in Vodacom Super Rugby with any degree of comfort.

The Sharks spent most of last season chasing the game behind the Stormers in the conference battle and at this early stage of 2012 they are in danger of doing so again as the Bulls and the Stormers open up an early gap. The Sharks play the Lions, the domestic champs, at Mr Price Kings Park this Saturday before following up against the Reds the following week.

As they then go on tour, the Sharks coaches know how crucial it is for their team to pick up momentum, particularly as their first tour game is against the Waratahs in Sydney, where they boast a poor record. But while disappointed at the way his team lost, Sharks coach John Plumtree had reason to feel a lot more upbeat after his team’s 15-12 defeat to the Stormers at Newlands.

“We have lost our two opening games but playing the Bulls and the Stormers away first up was always going to be tough and it does need to be emphasized that they were away games,” said Plumtree.

“I thought that in this game we rectified a lot of the things that we weren’t good at in the game against the Bulls at Loftus. And whereas against the Bulls we just didn’t pitch and I questioned the attitude, this time there is no need for me to do that. It was just one of those close games and maybe where we fell down was in not sustaining the pressure on the Stormers when we had them under the kosh.

“It’s a long competition and we have plenty of time to come back, but it is crucial that we put it together against the Lions this coming week in our first home game. The defeats have made the first two home games even more important for us.”

Plumtree obviously didn’t want to say it publicly, but he would have been justified if he felt a bit aggrieved at some of the calls made by referee Mark Lawrence, who awarded 10 penalties to one against the Sharks in the second half. Sharks skipper Keegan Daniel was probably quite right to claim that when he was penalised with three minutes to go in what was to prove the decisive moment of a match which generally delivered poor quality, he was coming in from outside the touchline.

The Sharks were missing several key players for the Cape Town match, and that is one of the reasons they can feel there is no real need to panic as they look forward to the rest of the competition. When Willem Alberts returns, which he is expected to do this week, he will add considerably to the Sharks’ ability to force their way across the advantage line.

Young Marcell Coetzee did that with good effect against the Stormers, and the Sharks marginally turned around the beating they took at the gainline in the corresponding game last year, but Alberts’ strength in the tackle and his excellent ball skills mean that he is easier for the players around him to play off.

Jean Deysel is also due back later in the competition, and so is Beast Mtawarira, while Alistair Hargreaves should add authority to the tight five once he has benefitted from an early season conditioning program. Not that Ross Skeate left anything on the table at Newlands – his performance at his old home ground was one of his finest in Sharks clothing, his yellow card notwithstanding.

The Sharks have been in a much bigger hole than the one they are in now, and the memory of how they lost their five opening games in 2010 and then came back to nearly make the semifinals in the shorter Super 14 league season will give them confidence in their ability to pick up the momentum they need.

Although they lost at Newlands they ended the game feeling that they were the better team and with so many players still to return they should feel they can reverse the results of the opening two games when they face the Stormers and Bulls again on their home field later in the competition.


  • Penny - 2012-03-05 10:34

    Sharks are choking early this year ...

      Bulldozer - 2012-03-05 10:41

      They haven't choked yet. They have lost against the no.1 team in the world (Bulls) and then against Mark Lawrence.

      Jason - 2012-03-05 11:06

      Hahaha, bull daisy. you are such a joke. them blues gonna give you a whipping you aint ever gonna forget.

      Shnez - 2012-03-05 11:20

      Sharks aren't producing anything after having so much possession!!!!!! Defense is okish......but time time to rethink that strategy....

      Bulldozer - 2012-03-05 11:45

      Yes, Jayded, like the Sharks and Cheetahs were supposed to over the last two weeks. Joke's on you.

      Bames - 2012-03-05 12:03

      Sharks were very unlucky to lose, they played by far the more enterprising rugby and broke through the Stormers' line on numerous occasions. Also, what is all the hype about Etsebeth??? Him, Liebenberg en Vermeulen are all thugs, they are more interested in starting a fight than actually playing intelligent rugby.

      Bulldozer - 2012-03-05 12:14

      Agree Nic, 100%

      Marius Roodt - 2012-03-05 21:29

      In all honesty estebeth is a good find, and might actually become our next bakkies. That is if he can learn to controll his anger and agression, or the NZ teams are going to make him a walking penalty. But still a good find considering his age....

  • Sbuda - 2012-03-05 10:36

    Still hurts though to be beaten by old enemies. Go Sharks!!!!!!

  • Rinus - 2012-03-05 10:46

    Just stay away from mirrors Guppies - seeing yourself on fire usually increases the state of panic! :-)

  • Donavan - 2012-03-05 10:49

    unlucky boys, two losses doesnt mean all is lost, they were against two powerhouses of sa rugby, besides they still have to play us in the shark tank. swak

      Bulldozer - 2012-03-05 10:50

      One powerhouse and Mark Lawrence.

      Lionel - 2012-03-05 10:54

      Ag Dozey,get over it there mate!!!Not gonna change the result,no matter how much we all bitch and moan!!!!If Lambie kicked better they would have also won!!!

      Lionel - 2012-03-05 11:22

      Daniels and Bissie as captain and vice captain is not good for the Sharks,both have terrible discipline records and once again it showed Sat.As far as I am concerned not because I am a Stormer supporter but the fact that the Sharks only have themselves to blame!!!

      Jimmy - 2012-03-05 11:22

      Bulldozer you are a twit. Please get off if you cant post relevant rugby input.

      Bulldozer - 2012-03-05 11:48

      Jimmy, look at yourself, now you want to call me a twit. Seriously?

      S - 2012-03-05 13:26

      @Dozey: Typical of a tappit like you. If you cannot give an intelligent or relevant retort you attack the person. Jy's blerrie kommin, man.

      Bulldozer - 2012-03-05 15:00

      Stirrer, geen cups vir 11 jaar.

  • Dirk - 2012-03-05 12:09

    Stormers had the best of the Sharks last season when they played much better rugby then we saw on Saturday. So, considering just how bad the Stormers were this weekend, the Sharks supporters have absolutely nothing to crow about.However, the Stormers can hopefully only improve - but lets face it, it was enjoyable to see their inexperienced pack walk with the Sharks. Unfortunately, I cannot see the Stormers reaching a final in 2012. Of concern is the loss of Rassie and his support team to WP. I am concerned that the technical deficiencies in defense and attack witnessed this weekend might be ominous signs for the future...

  • Heiku - 2012-03-05 12:41

    Fire Plumtree, Reece-Edwards and Strauli please.

  • Michelle - 2012-03-06 13:47

    Sharks are looking GOOOD!!!

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