S15: SA teams thriving abroad

2012-04-13 12:41

Cape Town – Clearly imperfect they may remain, but the Sharks have a beating heart ... and can now claim to have completed a successful overseas tour in Super Rugby.

GALLERY: Blues v Sharks

On Friday they emulated the Cheetahs’ 2012 record in Australasia, deservedly beating the embattled Blues 29-23 with a bonus point to boast a highly respectable tally of two wins from four matches abroad.

As a result the Sharks have nudged their way back into the top half of the overall table for the time being, and have the satisfaction of knowing that all eight remaining matches for them in the second half of ordinary season will be back on domestic terrain -- and overwhelmingly in Durban.

They must raise themselves one last time after the exertions of their travels for the encounter with the in-form Chiefs next weekend at Mr Price Kings Park, before having a well-earned bye.

Not too many years ago, just about any South African side in the competition would have given an arm and a leg to return from New Zealand and Australia with a 50% win record; now it is happily occurring rather more often.

As things stand in the current campaign, teams from our shores have played nine matches overseas, and emerged victorious from five of them.

Apart from the two triumphs each by the Sharks and Cheetahs, the Stormers won their first tour assignment against the Highlanders and now await the titanic encounter with the Crusaders on Saturday morning (09:35 SA time).

Two South African teams have not yet embarked on the long-haul, the Bulls and Lions (who play each other on Saturday evening), and as things stand the latter-named outfit look vulnerable to adversely affecting  the rosy state of SA affairs “on the road”.

But even they may find that going overseas actually eases the various home pressures on them – last year against the odds they also earned two wins abroad.

Here is a reminder of the winning performances overseas thus far in 2012, in receding order: Blues 23 Sharks 29, Highlanders 6 Stormers 21, Brumbies 26 Sharks 29, Hurricanes 38 Cheetahs 47, Rebels 26 Cheetahs 33.

It seems apparent that, more and more, our teams are genuinely beginning to embrace touring as a pleasure rather than a burden.

 When the Stormers saw off the Highlanders last week straight after a particularly murderous slog from Cape Town to Dunedin, their performance rather flew in the face of the argument that you are especially susceptible to defeat immediately after switching time zones to a major degree.

And after the Sharks’ heroics on Friday, so much for the theory (I admit I’d harboured this fear in the lead-up to the Auckland encounter myself) that you may mentally have “one foot on the plane” at the end of the overseas leg.

Keegan Daniel and company – the skipper has set a magnificent example with his dynamism and energy throughout the few Antipodean weeks – actually played more intelligently and purposefully in the second half against the Blues, when they might instead have been excused for their legs just “going” a bit.

This was by no means a flawless showing by the Sharks against a dreadfully spooked, crisis-torn Blues side: they remain error-prone and sometimes still indecisive in the first-time tackle, which can cause unnecessary scrambling angst.

But all they will care about in the immediate aftermath is that they pluckily banked a healthy five points before the trip back to the welcoming warmth of KwaZulu-Natal ...

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


  • Morn%c3%a9 - 2012-04-13 12:45

    Go South Africa I like it when we beat them at their home grounds. Love it !!!!!

  • Riaan - 2012-04-13 12:55

    Rob "siener" Houwing got it wrong once again. Rob's prediction...Blues by 7?

  • albert.scherman - 2012-04-13 12:57

    Although I'm glad that the Sharks won, I feel that the Blues can feel hard done by. It was, in effect a knock on that gave the Sharks a try. But that's where it stops. The NZ'ers expect everything on a silver platter and never really have to work for anything. Well done Sharks!! Oh and, GO BULLS!! :D

      David - 2012-04-13 13:00

      You're right, that wasn't a try. But both of NZ's scrum tries should have been Shark penalties. So if you take 7 off their tally, they are lucky to get a bonus point

      Igenatius - 2012-04-13 13:05

      Really? You don't think that the best rugby nation (in the world) works in order to get where they are right now..? Get serious man. If you are performing on this level, it's all you do. These guys are more committed and hard working than what a woman in a kitchen should be! ;) These guys work hard bud! They are professionals.

      albert.scherman - 2012-04-13 13:17

      @David: I missed that, I'm in an office so only check the screen now and again. I saw that knock on. So I commented on what I saw. :) @Igenatius: I've never liked the All Blacks. If you have a look at all their games, they are never reffed fairly. The All Blacks and NZ teams in general will and have always gotten away with murder. From falling over the ball, to playing players off the ball. It's the way they do things. If you feel that's commitment and hard work, then so be it. I personally feel it's bad sportsmanship. Hence my comment of silver platter. :) And just to be clear, I know all teams do things like this. I just feel that NZ get away with it more than any other team.

  • David - 2012-04-13 12:58

    For the Sharks to bag 5 points from a scratchy away game is a big achievement, just gotta keep improving. Even South African teams general play has improved. Our ball skills are on par with the best. It's seems that we are finally catching up with professionalism. The Boks will play to their usual strengths but knowing that the players can play expansively if needed will make us a very dangerous side. With Meyer as Bok coach, these should be a very good few years ahead. Go SA teams!!!

      albert.scherman - 2012-04-13 13:18

      David, I'd like to hear your views on Heyneke Meyer as coach. I feel he should have been picked as coach before Div. Just for interest sake! :)

      David - 2012-04-13 13:20

      I am a little worried that he will turn the us into the Blue Bokke, but he's clearly a smart rugby man. He knows how to build a winning team. Definately the right guy for the job, and yes should have been appointed 4 years ago.

      albert.scherman - 2012-04-13 13:28

      I do agree. I'm a big Bulls supported but hell I want him to pick the best team regardless of what provincial side they play for. One interesting topic we can discuss is that hooker position. Although I love how Bismarck play (dislike the oke like crazy) I think Chillyboy is making a huge impact. Your thoughts? I'd love to see Chilly start and Bismarck run on in the second half. I think he can be used as an amazing impact player.

      David - 2012-04-13 13:39

      I think it depends on tactics, they can alternate if required. I am a little biased towards Bissie though ;-). He hasn't been at his best and tends to get bogged down which is when his discipline can cost the side. But either way, what great players to choose from.

  • Luviwe - 2012-04-13 13:08

    Well done Sharks

  • andrebotes1982 - 2012-04-13 13:29

    just wait till the lions go and tour. Will bring those stats right back down.

  • Lexandlouise - 2012-04-13 13:52

    Well done Sharkies,now if the Stormers and Cheetahs can pull off wins it will be a great weekend for SA rugby!

  • marnusmnorval - 2012-04-13 15:14

    How was it good? They beat 2 weak teams and got raped by a better one

  • Hallo - 2012-04-13 15:22

    Boks will get revenge this year, against the aussies as well as Bryce Lawrences beloved silver ferns

  • Tokolos - 2012-04-13 17:00

    Sharks suck. Very average. Tokolos think the Kings will beat them!!!

      malcolm.molver - 2012-04-13 18:36

      Hahaha! That's a good one. The Sharks will hammer the Kings! The Kings don't deserve to be in Super Rugby!

      David - 2012-04-13 20:45

      I see someone left your cage open

      Tokolos - 2012-04-14 06:39

      Shame you two, the Sharks cannot even win the poor blues properly without the ref's assistance. Which game were you guys watching. You suck as bad as the poor Sharks. Buy yourselves Bulls jerseys and invest in something good. It will save you a lot of misery. It must be heartbreaking for you guys to get out of bed on a game day saying to yourself what a loooooong day this is going to be. Nothing to look forward to at all. Most your rugby viewing days end in heartbreak I suppose. The Kings will eat them alive. Tokolos think they should be relegated next year automatically.

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