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 ...


  • jk - 2011-06-23 11:33

    sharks bores me to death-smittie or bishmark, lambie, plummo-jp overrated peterson-over the wall stefan - booooring!!!

      sparkies - 2011-06-23 11:39

      Are you Russian??

      Mr. B - 2011-06-23 11:48

      JK - please tell me you've been drinking and that sentence wasn't you being normal. Sharks are gonna battle to beat the Saders but hope they can do it. As a Sharks fan, I still hope that the Stormers win the trophy, then P D V cannot leave Peter Grant out the RWC squad, still in shock that the best number 10 in the country isn't in the squad.

      Kevin - 2011-06-23 11:53

      Go Sharkies .

      RobinAL - 2011-06-23 11:55

      You must be a Bull or Stormer !!!!!!

      terry - 2011-06-23 11:58

      So if they 'bores you to death' - why did you take the time to read the article and write a comment. Let me guess - another bitter Bulls supporter.

      King - 2011-06-23 12:26

      And you made it big in rugby by doing what? Oops! No you didn't!

      René Müller - 2011-06-23 12:38

      jk is not a Bull supporter, but a Stormer! As a Bull supporter, we all have 'those' ones, but fortunately not guilty this time. jk, no one is forcing you to watch them play or support them for that matter!!

      Mike@CapeT - 2011-06-23 13:14

      Rene....our equivilent to Effels, the self proclaimed doc from Canada........unfortunately.

      René Müller - 2011-06-23 13:21

      True Mike, I understand the 'general chirp' but why write something that means zip?? You have to be really lonely to do that!

      sharks4playoffs - 2011-06-23 15:00

      JP overrated peterson? really

      Mike@CapeT - 2011-06-23 15:40

      Ignore them Rene....they hate to be inored :)! Their chirps come back twice as funny or twice as stupid....the latter, most of the time, I fear.

  • sparkies - 2011-06-23 11:33

    Go Sharks.Make some of us true South Africans proud.Forget the DROLS(Krugga,Kok,Ace).

      Marcell - 2011-06-23 14:15

      Jou standaard is maar laag!

  • Gary - 2011-06-23 11:44

    Well the Sharks took out the Bulls at Loftus, they now need to take out the Crusaders at Nelson, when they struggled in England and looked like coming 2nd all the way. Good Luck Sharks. Now that the Bulls are out i Hope either you or the Stormers show the way.

      Kevin - 2011-06-23 11:54

      Yea , but that was easy for the Sharks. It was only the Bulls at Loftus.

      Gatvolaswell - 2011-06-23 20:09

      If i remember the Sharks score a lot more points against the Crusaders the than the Bulls did.

      Ace Ventura - 2011-06-23 20:24

      Saturday morning 11h30 I will remember that the Sharks' Super rugby season came to a halt.

  • jk - 2011-06-23 11:48

    the only russians i had was with my chips last night

      sparkies - 2011-06-23 11:52

      Oh you do speak English

      The Goose - 2011-06-23 12:35

      ah, you might be coloured then.

  • jk - 2011-06-23 12:04

    keep your panyies on ladies. no im a western province deur & deur, and yes, the whole union bores me. And no im not drunk, only tom evening. There is nothing in that union taht makes my heart pump.. sorry

      sparkies - 2011-06-23 12:10

      Why would you want a union to make your heart pump.Guy& Girls, keep your kids away from this person!!!

      windkind - 2011-06-23 12:48

      Semi literate people should not comment @JK. You are quite obviously an @sshole

  • jk - 2011-06-23 12:05

    should have been keep your panties on... or your g-string sparkies...

      sparkies - 2011-06-23 12:11

      Yes, you are making sense.Keep going!!

  • jk - 2011-06-23 12:13

    no sparkies, thats why you are hoofseun around here...

      sparkies - 2011-06-23 12:21

      No No JK, You are our true hero.LOL

      BLOODY AGENT - 2011-06-23 13:21


  • Martin - 2011-06-23 12:17

    No change Fish breaths! Sharkies down by -20!!! Go Crush-aders!

      kosie - 2011-06-23 15:03

      you are correct, they(crusaders) are going to get crushed and then we'll send the aiders, oh, we don't have to there is enough aid in christchurch this year....

  • Sharkie - 2011-06-23 12:17

    Gush Gush omg - go boys - you proved me so so wrong Saturday...... I feel like a kid night before Christmas...... you go boys!!!!

  • Anneleen - 2011-06-23 12:21 enjoying this day very much...reading a lot of Shark-related news...

  • jk - 2011-06-23 12:25

    thanks for the comment on my heroship, thats what she said last night as well sparkies.

      sparkies - 2011-06-23 12:40


  • jk - 2011-06-23 12:25

    thanks for the comment on my heroship, thats what she said last night as well sparkies.

      Dave - 2011-06-23 13:01

      No Sparkies - he has hangups

  • Dave - 2011-06-23 12:33

    @ Jk - if so boring why read the article and post useless comments if anything reading your post was boring bye now

  • jk - 2011-06-23 12:35

    you bore me dave...zzz

      Dave - 2011-06-23 12:55

      once again another useless comment

  • nic69ers - 2011-06-23 12:38

    im a red blooded LIONS supporter and even this weekend i will be supporting the SHARKS!!!!!!!!

  • andre - 2011-06-23 12:57

    i am a blue bulls supporter,but am supporting the sharks all the way-go sharks,go.

  • jk - 2011-06-23 13:12

    jip, i suppose a lions supporter will support anyone just to have some fun i suppose. Im sorry guys, even if the mighty stormers was out of the competition, its hard to support any other team, suppose it comes from 33 years of currie cup rugby, but if its not the blue & white or maties, there is nothing worth watching. Cant wait for old sparkie to wake up now and throw his 2 sents in...

      Staalbal - 2011-06-23 14:18

      What about Ikeys?

      J - 2011-06-23 14:22

      Yes, suppose you suppose know something about something supposed rugby blah blah.. Seriously, I'm not attempting to be a grammar-nazi, but your posts are getting progressively worse! Quit now dude..

      sharks4playoffs - 2011-06-23 15:04

      maties were good this year!!!

  • Andy Lamont - 2011-06-23 13:28

    There is no doubt about it this is going to be a massive test for the Sharks. I believe they have a chance if the can be allowed to settle down and build the momentum in the pack. Please no tinkering with the front row!

      kosie - 2011-06-23 15:06

      they showed the same form last weekend against the bulls that they had in last years currie cup, if they can build on last weekend then we have quite a chance.

  • Frank - 2011-06-23 13:42

    now here is a romantic and unenforable idea _ all those brainded scum ( ace kok etc) who are somunpatriotic they would rather support an antipodean team than a fellow south african side should not be allowed to support the boks> As a lifelong stormers and WP supporter i consider it my patriotic duty to support the sharks( or and other SA team) against the crusaders. It does show the class of the people when you note that most of the above mentioned morons appear to be Bulls supporters. ..... Except for JK whom i bet comes from Bellville or parrow and still lives in caravan with his mom

      Ace Ventura - 2011-06-23 17:02

      Hey Frank. Whats wrong with living with your mom in a caravan? I live in a caravan and I'm very happy. Never mind though. One day when you're out of grade 4, you will realize that happiness doesnt depend on where you live.

      Ace Ventura - 2011-06-23 18:41


  • rugby_guru - 2011-06-23 14:19

    Go my boys, make SA proud, however I don't feel the Saders is the threat, but if we managed to make it to Finals, the Stormers would be the biggest threat to this compo.. That's just the way I see it.. Not saying we will even get there, or the Stormers, but their chance is much greater than ours and they really playing world class rugby.. Go MY SHARKSS!

      ChumScrubber - 2011-06-24 20:36

      Not impossible, unlikely, but not impossible. If we beat the Saders I believe we'll beat the Reds and end up in the final - against the Stormers. Keep the trophy in South Africa, whatever happens guys!!

  • Frank - 2011-06-23 19:53

    Ace - no problem with people who live in caravans, except for those, and i suspect this is true in your case when their mother and father are brother and sister and they have sex with their sister> you inbred prick

      Ace Ventura - 2011-06-23 20:26

      Let me go cry myself to sleep since Franky called me an inbred prick.

  • Frank - 2011-06-23 20:45

    Ace - its ok you mom will come tuck you in and give you a reach around at the same time.

      Ace Ventura - 2011-06-23 21:00

      Sparky, is that you? Only Sparky can come up with such awesome chirps. Wow!

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