Sharks win battle of the yawn

2011-02-20 22:03

John Bishop

Durban - The Sharks won the battle of the yawn on a soggy Durban night, opening their Super Rugby campaign with a valuable but eminently forgettable 24-9 win over the Cheetahs on Saturday evening.

The enthusiasm of the players and the 27 000 spectators was dampened by the steady drizzle and two teams were simply unable to adapt to the conditions in a drab, lifeless exhibition of wet weather rugby.

“I’ll bet everyone was delighted with that spectacle,” Sharks coach John Plumtree remarked sarcastically at the final whistle.

Significantly, both tries (by the Sharks’ Jacques Botes and hooker Bismarck du Plesssis) were the product of rolling mauls off attacking lineouts. It was that sort of evening and that sort of game.

Both coaches found little that was positive in the evening.

“I was happy with our driving which gave us two tries,” Plumtree said, “but the forwards did not do enough as a unit and we had problems in the lineout. There is quite a bit of hard work to be done.”

The Sharks had a late setback when captain and loosehead John Smit withdrew with a tight calf muscle and Springbok Beast Mtawarira started in his place.

“We’ll assess John on Monday but I’m hoping he will be available for the Blues game on Saturday,” said Plumtree.

But the injury to scrumhalf Charl Mcleod, who was taken out roughly at a breakdown and was limping heavily on Saturday night, might be more damaging.

Plumtree conceded that the Sharks had been naive in their approach, trying to move the ball when they had no forward motion or momentum and were then hammered back in the tackle.

“We should have played closer to the forwards,” he said. “But this is a tough competition and you can’t always get what you want or play the way you would like to. At times you have to just grind out the result.”

But Plumtree ended on a brighter note:

“We will get better and there will be good rugby to watch.”

Stefan Terblanche, who took over from Smit as captain, said that the conditions had forced the Sharks to kick away possession.

“And we were not always accurate with our kicking. But I’m happy that we came away with a win and that was what we were looking for.”

While the Cheetahs were content to hoof the ball downfield all evening, and seldom threatened on attack, the Sharks did attempt to thread a couple of movements together. But, operating off a static base, their passing of the wet ball was laboured and they made little headway.

They were also slow in chasing the many kicks and seldom pressured the Cheetahs’ defenders.

It was as well that the Cheetahs had so little to offer on the night.

They were unable to punish the Sharks’ inaccurate tactical kicking, their lineout problems and their untidy efforts in attempting to move the ball well behind the advantage line.

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské said that neither side had played well but said the conditions had been difficult and this had led to the many mistakes.

“We planned to play a kicking game but our execution was poor.”

Trying to find a silver lining somewhere, he said he was encouraged by the Cheetahs’ defence and their lineout.

The Cheetahs’ hooker and captain Adriaan Strauss and Drotské were unhappy with referee Craig Joubert’s rulings at the scrum. Time and again he penalised for the Cheetahs for their early engagement.

“I’ll look at the video and see whether I think it was fair or not,” said Drotské.

“If I think Craig was harsh, I’ll make a report to André Watson (South Africa’s refereeing boss) or otherwise I’ll phone Craig and discuss how we can put things right. We have to sort it out before we play the Bulls on the weekend.”

The Sharks face a rampant Auckland Blues outfit on Saturday evening and they know they will have to be better, much better, against a strong attacking unit.

The Witness

  • StBad - 2011-02-20 23:18

    A win is a win is a win...

  • mike - 2011-02-21 00:33

    Yeah not much to look at, but its still the first weekend and in truth the only game that was worth watching this weekend was probably the Bulls Lions one. Sure we will see the teams lift there games in the weeks to come.

      Mxo32 - 2011-02-21 09:19

      Blues and Crusaders was the game of the week....

  • Rob - 2011-02-21 07:26

    I'll take the 4 points. Agree not a great game. Couldn't understand the Cheetahs aimless kicking though... Not a good tactic unless you Fourie Du Preez doing it..

  • Stellenbosch - 2011-02-21 07:31

    I was at the Orlando final last year and witnessed one of the most biased ref displays ever given by Joubert. So it was no surprise that this man from KZN was given the Sharks game last weekend. And he delivered al right. Kaplan is the best ref in SA, so he should have blown the Currie Cup final. But I suspect he is too honest for Watson to handle.

      Blue Jake - 2011-02-21 07:35

      Blah blah blah.

      ChrisG - 2011-02-21 08:01

      More sour grapes from a Stormers supporter.

      Terence.Craig.Berry - 2011-02-21 08:14

      Please point out a few of Mr. Joubert's 'biased' decisions in last years Final? If you want, I have the game saved on my PVR, come on over and we can go through it play by play!

      Alwyn - 2011-02-21 08:21

      I agree both the refs from KZN ,Joubert and Jonker is not up to scratch,

      seeps.mazi - 2011-02-21 09:58

      Another Doos from the Cape feeling sorry himself after the stormers did what they do best - play second Princess to The Sharks and Bulls. Get over it dude, and if you behave you guys can add to your Choice Cup and your Neo what what trophy, but it'll invariably be anoher silver medal

      Balsakhater - 2011-02-21 11:46

      WTF - Did you only wake up now. R u still crying. Still trying to convince yourself that the stormers should have won. What a peopol!!!

  • Alwyn - 2011-02-21 08:19

    The Cheetahs on paper has a good team,the problem is that they do not have a coach,Naka Drotsky since taking over from Rassie has proved that he is not a coach,They were aimless,did not have a game plan,and the Sharks union referee Craig Joubertb did not help the either,he breathed through his wistle made a lot of shitty calls agains the Cheetahs,and were very dodgy in his call throughout the 80 minutes

  • werner.coetzer - 2011-02-21 09:04

    How stupid is it that a bye is worth 4 points?

  • dplots - 2011-02-21 09:20

    The usual moan about the ref is pathetic. The Cheetahs have had a problem with their scrum for along time now and have only been allowed to get away with it as a result of slack reffing. The biggest problem there is a coach with no vision or ability shown since Rassie left. Their game plan was poor and were it not for the rain the score difference would've been much higher. With Drotske, there they'll be playing at the bottom with the Rebels.

      Alwyn - 2011-02-21 10:00

      halleluja somebody that talks sense,Drotsky needs to bugger off

  • Ditsimzn - 2011-02-21 11:39

    I'm not a professional Rugby player or coach, but there is a few things I know. One, a team must learn to play the ref, whether he is good or bad. A good captain will be able to marshal his players to play to the refs calls and to take advantage where the can and to avoid situations that he is harsh on. Two, any team that constantly and aimlessly kicks away precious possession like the Cheetahs, will get punished, no matter how good they think they are. Three, a game plan is just that a game plan. Again, a good captain can see the game plan working or failing and he should make some strategic decisions on the field and take the responsibility for those decisions. Here sadly the Cheetah captain failed miserably, as he just continued playing a losing hand. And Lastly, a coach sit in the stands and watched and hopefully schemes some moves and must be able to call a change in game plans when he sees his charges being pummelled in the plan they are playing. Here he failed. And also remember it is easy to blame a coach, but it is players who win or lose games and they should take some brunt for the performance that they delivered. In my humble opinion, the Cheetahs need to learn to become multi skilled and adaptable team on the field. The coach and captain needs to take responsibility for the loss, and they must stop looking for reasons for losing and concentrate on the next job on hand.

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