Sharks' big chance to go top

2011-05-19 19:17

Gavin Rich - SuperSport

Johannesburg - The Stormers don't have any centres and the Bulls have no form to speak of when they're not playing at home and with altitude on their side, so it looks like the Sharks are poised to take the lead in the battle for supremacy in the South African conference of Vodacom Super Rugby.

Does that sound like an outlandish statement? Well it could be, but it also might not be. Certainly at least one of those assertions are debatable - the Stormers don't have their first choice centres available for their all-important match against the Blues in Auckland on Friday, but then not many other franchises would complain about having Juan de Jongh and Johann Sadie in their midfield.

It is indeed the case that the Bulls don't boast any form to speak of away from Loftus, but then that may be just because they haven't played away or at the coast since they finally started rediscovering some confidence against the Chiefs. Saturday evening will provide us with the answer as they clash with the Sharks at Mr Price Kings Park, and it is hard to imagine a bigger litmus test for the Bulls' supposed resurgence.

It should go without saying that the challenge they face this weekend is significantly bigger than that which they faced against both the Chiefs and the Melbourne Rebels. In the latter the Australian newcomers to the tournament were simply woeful in the first half and showed no stomach for the defensive effort that was required against the Bulls.

In the second though they did show a little bit of bottle and in that 40 minute period there was nothing to separate the two sides. Yes, Frans Ludeke had taken some of his star players off and they had already started without Victor Matfield. But still, in the end it wasn't the 80 minute avalanche that had been threatened earlier in the game and which might have had the Sharks quaking in their boots.

Mind you, the Sharks weren't too flush for the first 40 minutes of the last game they played against the Brumbies, and were desperate in the 80 minutes that preceded that against the Stormers. Which really is the point of all of this - it's becoming harder by the week to make any kind of forecast of what to expect in a Super Rugby weekend with any reasonable degree of certainty.

Predicting that the Stormers will lose to the Blues and the Sharks will beat the Bulls to go top by Saturday night is a much more sane line than anything that might have been forwarded on behalf of the Lions against the Brumbies the previous weekend - and look what happened there.

What is clear-cut is that the Crusaders should be hoping for a Stormers win this time as a Blues victory will heap extra pressure on them as they head into their clash with the Chiefs in Nelson on Saturday. And don't bet too much against the Chiefs inflicting another defeat on a Crusaders team that is still weakened by injury and which had to fly back from South Africa this week.

The table topping Reds are enjoying a bye this week but "enjoying" is the operative word as it means they are assured of the four points that regardless of what happens in Auckland will keep them on top of the overall log (on points difference if the Blues pick up a full house against the Stormers).

The Sharks are hoping the Lions can do everyone a favour by knocking back the Waratahs challenge in Sydney - and stranger things than that have happened in this intriguing and unpredictable 2011 Super Rugby season. It must be stressful for the participants and the coaches, but those who are following it will be fastening their seatbelts for another highly absorbing weekend of action.


  • john.swanepoel - 2011-05-19 19:20

    Gonna be a great game.

      Ruan - 2011-05-19 19:26

      I agree it is going to be a tough game and close as ever... hard to pick a winner but I hope who ever wins this one can takethe form through and make a serious challenge for the cup!

      MacDonald Machingura - 2011-05-19 22:20

      No..this cant be John Swanepoel of Cayman fame???

      Stox - 2011-05-20 14:30

      ATTENTION PLUMTREE: Please by De Jonge from the Stormoers, and Robert Ebersohn from the Kitties... Thanks bye.

  • Lloyd - 2011-05-19 19:21

    'Bulls have no form to speak of when they're not playing at home and with altitude on their side,'. Can't wait to read this tjops drivel after the game.

      Oukoos - 2011-05-19 19:27

      Na Saterdag gaan ek saam met jou hartseer wees oor die Bulls se loesing. Vir die Stormers se onthalwe moet die Bulls wen, maar ek en jy weet albei dit is net onmoontlik, veral met John wat nie speel nie

      daspoort - 2011-05-19 19:53

      Lloyd, niemand van ons kan wag nie, mag die bulle op hulle beste moer kry!

      Lloyd - 2011-05-19 20:00

      SĂȘ vir my, was jy in Daspoort of hoort jy daar?

      Peester - 2011-05-19 20:43

      @daspoort die k@nt Foeitog, is dit nou jou beste bydrae. Ek kan sien die inteling maak jou klaar!! Go Blues, Go Bulls

  • Crime Buster - 2011-05-19 19:45

    Gavin Rich are you not supposed to be at an awards function with your wonderful insight to fill pages on the www?

  • rugby_guru - 2011-05-19 19:46

    Tough game that's the truth

  • Crime Buster - 2011-05-19 19:47

    Michelle and Brendon thanks for the wonderful evening - your remarks are better than Mr Rich who has no idea what he talking about as the Bulls are going to win this Saturday.

      Travis - 2011-05-20 10:41

      @Crime Buster - perhaps you could lend me that crystal ball that you have so that I can get tomorrows Lotto numbers too?

  • enrolics - 2011-05-19 20:00

    As I predicted, Stormers aint gonna make the playoffs! Their campaign is over. All I see is a string of losses from here on for them. Thats what you get for playing "Jake White" style all the time. AC must catch a wake up or ship out. Sharks and/or Bulls to make SA proud in the playoffs. Go Cheetahs!

      Raymond - 2011-05-19 20:29

      Yea,I am a STORMER and as much as it hurts,one has got to face reality,I am inclined to agree with you.It is not how you start off,but how you end.The Bulls and Sharks did'nt start off well,but it looks like they are going to end off well.I am looking forward to the Cheetahs game and hope that they continue with their form from last week.It was the best Super 15 game this season.

      The_Fox - 2011-05-20 08:01

      Bit premature to write the Stormers off but if it makes you feel better..

      Kleinboet - 2011-05-20 12:27

      Despite your bitchiness, Enrolics, I wish your Cheetah team all the luck in the world. It needs some devine intervention! You are clearly backing the Sharks because they have bought - and in future will continue to do so - all your best players. It, however, baffles me why you are also a Bulls supporter. Oh, well, at least you are certain of a win for one of your teams tomorrow. Pity that two of them are going to lose. Still, one out of three is better than none out of three!

  • PMG - 2011-05-19 20:09

    Sharks to win by 8 points - Fourie will play traffic cop,traffic cop and Victor will again be South Africa's best centre fumbling around in midfield and knocking the ball on.Its embarrassing to watch two legends looking like drunk donkeys.

      majoor - 2011-05-19 20:53

      Unlike Jagger's, "time is on my side", these oaks have nothing on their side. Time's running out boys. Saturday marks the end of an era for the bulls. And even if they manage to win, it will be the last gass left in their tank...

      Lloyd - 2011-05-19 21:33

      Ignorence is bliss.

      ikilladabull - 2011-05-19 21:40

      Lloyd you're wrong.....Ignorance is bliss. Idiot.

  • Peester - 2011-05-19 20:42

    HA HA HA, be on top? After going down by 15 to the Bulls????

  • abrham - 2011-05-19 20:45

    only the sharks will be in the play off, and the boks wont make it either

  • majoor - 2011-05-19 20:49

    Lloyd, met jou Danville bras se hulp, kan julle dalk die bulle deur die drif dra....

      RugbyMentor - 2011-05-19 22:17

      @majoor - wat is jou profile picture? Is dit jou gat na jou date?? Of was dit jou pa se werk??

  • Salomon - 2011-05-19 20:54

    Once again a journalist make something of this minor team ( Sharks). Remember the same happened the week before they lost in Cape Town.

      Travis - 2011-05-20 10:45

      I have to agree with you, mate. As a Sharks supporter, there is no doubt that the Stormers were a far better outfit. Maybe things are looking a little different now, with injuries and time, but I think that the Sharks have a distance to go yet.

  • UncleSam - 2011-05-19 21:09

    Hi Rich, you obviously have no sense about rugby....for the Bulls are going to win this Saterday. You sound like the guy predicting the end of the world this comeing Saterday...

  • garthw60 - 2011-05-19 21:12

    Sharks - raise your game!!!

  • Semperfi - 2011-05-19 22:03

    Whats up folks...i have a little head to head battle going on below...(forgive the sp mistakes tho i aint south african and may F up some names) 1 - Beast v Greyling - adv Sharks 2 - Bizzie v Chilliwilli - adv Sharks 3 - Doc v Kruger - hmmm im saying its EVEN stevens 4 - Sykes v Bakkies - normally id say Biff Bakkies but its another wash - EVEN 5 - Harg v Mats - adv Bully boys 6 - Botes v Steg - adv Sharks only coz Steg is a penalty waitng to happen 7 - Deysel v Dewald - adv Sharks im mean seriously this dude is a monsta 8 - Alberts v Spies - adv Sharks now this dude is a monsta 9 - Charl v Fourie - adv Bully boys this ol man still got game 10 - Lambie v Morne - adv Sharks this young buck got everything Steyn got and some 11 - JP v Hougie - adv Sharks JP's too big for Hougs and he's been shunted btween2 many positions 12 - Meyer v Oli - adv Bully boys, Meyer is bad...i mean seriously crap lol 13 - Stef v Jaco - EVEN's both past it 14 - Odi v Bjorn - adv ......Bully boys Basson is a freak in the air with some speed 15 - Ludik v Side Show - adv Sharks, Side Show runs at NO gaps annnnd loves hoofing the F outa the ball. Well folks thats my take all in all id say its the Sharks game to lose, feel free to poke holes in my reasoning! :) BTW - being a Yank i support ALL South African teams v those Kiwi liberals and Oz inmates especially with the type of fluffy rugby they play. No disrespect tho....haha

      Plesierspier - 2011-05-20 01:07

      @Semperfi Please don't call Jannie "doc" he's a rugby player, not a docs ass. Ask anyone who studied or worked with the idiot. And Kruger will scrum his head deep deep into that fat ass. Bulls by 12

      HanHan - 2011-05-20 05:44

      @Semperfi - Thanks for your graphic description. Fun reading it. I sincerely hope that the outcome will complement your comparisons. SHARKS, make me PROUD!

      Julius Dilem - 2011-05-20 07:08

      @Plesierspier, just like you did to your boyfriend last night? :)

      Lou - 2011-05-20 07:19

      Plesierspier net so vir jou kennis Kruger en Jannie skrum nie teen mekaar nie want albei is vaskoppe.

      Peter Britz - 2011-05-20 08:54

      @ plesierspier! Maybe he is, but the fact is he completed his doctor studies, whilst playing rugby, and respect to him for that! What have you studied or achieved in life, that qualifies you to make derogatory statements about the man? He has the degree, he is a Dr. wether you think he is a good one is irrellevant! You jealous little person you!!

      Travis - 2011-05-20 10:51

      I like that...good comment Yank, and thanks for the support. Had a chuckle at the Side Show Bob description. Classic. Go Sharks! @ Plesierspier...seeing as you're such a rocket scientist, what was it like studying and working with Jannie. Did you do it? First hand knowledge, or a little more of your "he said, she said?"

      Semperfi - 2011-05-20 16:57

      @Plesierspier You sound like Doc Jannie gave you a prostate exam got a lil hate goin over there bud. Listen i like the Sharks def my squad, but as i said id back all SA teams against those other fluffy Antipodes. I say this because y'all play like men, aint nothing scares y'all direct through and over lol them others wanna dance and swirl etc...its like im watchin dancin with the

  • RuckingFun - 2011-05-20 00:56

    Sharks gonna eat the bulls...

      Lou - 2011-05-20 07:20

      Maybe at sea yes but not on a rugby field. Bulls by 20

      Semperfi - 2011-05-20 17:07

      @ Lou There a couple of big ass great whites in that Shark squad man, you best hope ol man Matfield used a whole can of WD40 on his joints to make an impact on this match :) Biff Bakkies best control the demons in his head or he'll sit 10 Steg's best stay AWAY from the break down or he'll gift us 3 :) Side Show best rent a dvd of Mils and learn how to avoid kickin the (_!_) off the But best of luck partner.

  • The_Fox - 2011-05-20 08:04

    Should be a cracker upfront as both backlines are fairly pathetic to be honest.

      Rob van den Heuvel - 2011-05-20 08:13

      Agree, AD to possibly be a game breaker when he comes on. Who knows what happened to the Kzn centres of old, Waylon Murry gone to Tvl; Straus gone to OFS, Barret gone up north. Crazy, crazy, crzay. Bosman is big with a great boot but his defense is not what it should be at this level. Forgive me, is Mvov on the bench? Gonna be a good game either way, both sides have it all to play for.

      The_Fox - 2011-05-20 08:38

      @ ROB van den Heuvel - To think Jake believed so much in Bosman in his early days he even called him the next Lem. Unreal.

      Skiballas - 2011-05-20 09:14

      @ The_Fox...I was very happy when I heard Bosman was joining the Sharks, as I rated him as someone with great distribution skills. But he has had his worst season by far, and I am hoping he will break the trend (so to Plum, otherwise his faith in Bosman will seriously be questioned if the Sharks loose). But lets hope for the best....

      Semperfi - 2011-05-20 17:11

      You know i always thought Bosman was a decent player, but wow these last few weeks he's sure stunk up the joint hasnt he? Trying to rock fancy passes and missing tackles down his channel...give half pint Adi a chance Plums c'mon partner!

  • Omungwalume - 2011-05-20 08:54

    Go for it Sharks!!

      yamadhoota - 2011-05-20 10:47

      Yay !!! Go Sharks ! This game is going to be a feeding session especially on our home turf - I've got tickets - see you all at the match. Sorry to the men in blue, I'll say a few Amens for you:-)

  • Laserguided - 2011-05-20 10:56

    Gavin, this piece of pro-Shark nonsense is really Rich, haha

  • Ross Cameron - 2011-05-20 11:41

    Not any more- at least for this round!

  • Beyers - 2011-05-20 11:42

    so much for that: you should be set to go top only based on your own abilities and not assuming a stormers defeat....

      Neo - 2011-05-20 12:13

      And Stormers won!!!!

  • Kleinboet - 2011-05-20 12:40

    Boys, the Stormers has its win for the weekend! Have a nice game and may the best team win! Down here in the Cape we will go fishing and tasting all the good wine. When we return, we'll ask somebody who won.

      Semperfi - 2011-05-20 17:02

      This was a bangin game i thought the Stormers had F'd up the game when that dum (_!_)hole ref sent Louw to the bin..but y'all manned up, im talkin tacklin everything that moves lol...y'all see TIAAN (sp) crush Joe-past-my-prime-coko lol... I do have to say tho that Bryan-jet-shoes is seriously out of form, like his jets are running on, and Ricky-BigMac- service overall wasnt too bad but but a little slower than required. Otherwise it was worth wakin up @ 3am - to watch now, ill pass out in my office :)

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