Now ... can Sharks sustain that sparkle?
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town - It
would almost seem ungenerous to sound tempering notes after the Sharks produced
probably the Super Rugby performance of the South African season, so far, at Ellis Park on Friday.
eye-opening 42-5 thrashing of the Lions, considering they were away to last
year’s tournament runners-up, arguably outshines even the Bulls’ 40-3
dismantling of the Stormers at Loftus on the opening weekend.
six-tries-to-one triumph catapulted Robert du Preez’s charges to the top of the
SA conference, although it could be less than a day’s reign there if the Bulls
overcome the Jaguares in the Saturday clash in Pretoria.
was a mighty statement from the Durban-based outfit ... and one that will spark
plenty of confused “where had these guys been?” queries about them after
several rather blunt, sterile showings either in victory or defeat during the
just another temporary peak on their rollercoaster ride? Bear in the mind that
Friday’s result meant their record for the last four clashes now reads: win,
loss, win, loss.
So the key
over the next fortnight, in which they have a couple of fairly tantalising
fixtures at their home base of Kings Park, will be for them to keep their eye
much more firmly on the ball and build on the enormously encouraging
developments witnessed against a hapless Lions side curtailed to mere scraps in
This was the
second notably heavy defeat for the Highveld outfit at home to domestic
opponents this season; they were also pressed onto the back foot for alarmingly
long spells in that 30-12 roasting from the Bulls in early March.
of talismanic regular captain and No 8 Warren Whiteley cannot come quickly
enough, especially as the Lions now have the daunting task of stepping onto a
long-haul flight for successive Australasian clashes against the Brumbies,
Chiefs and Crusaders – that spell could just blow their plans of qualifying for
a fourth final on the trot this year right out of the water, if they are not
revealed on a SuperSport rugby talk show a few days ago that he hopes to be
back in action after several weeks of injury by game two of the trek, and once
the rangy Springbok and naturally inspiring leader is at his post their loose
trio will finally restore a better semblance of balance.
blindside flank Cyle Brink made his own return from a lengthy absence against
the Sharks, although he was understandably rusty and the Lions being pinned to
their own territory so much hardly helped his quest to bring some of the “go
forward” he is usually renowned for.
Sharks certainly look the South African team with best potential to prosper consistently
in the short term, as they are almost certain to enter their Durban games
against the Jaguares (next Saturday) and then Reds (six days on) as pretty
clear favourites after the champagne, collectively switched-on showing at a
wet, greasy Ellis Park.
those fixtures, as they should, would be a nice springboard for their own
overseas tour immediately afterwards; it will be an immense disappointment to
their long-suffering faithful if they trip up in either for a “back to square
one” sort of situation.
produced powerful, fast-paced total rugby, if you like, for lengthy periods
against their derby foes, and you were genuinely able to say they were
impressive and passion-filled from jerseys one to 15: Tendai Mtawarira was all
fire and brimstone in his record-breaking appearance for tournament longevity
from the loosehead prop berth, and fullback Curwin Bosch the dazzling catalyst
for much that was sharp and penetrative about the backline play as a whole.
were media suggestions in midweek that sometimes marginalised Bosch has been in
talks with Newlands about a possible shift to the Stormers next season, let’s
just say that any in-house negotiations may gather considerable, fresh impetus
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