Are Sharks the ‘new’ Stormers?



Some of my thoughts the last couple of weeks as well…….

Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Four tries in their last six matches: it is a damning statistic that does little to suggest the Sharks are genuine Super Rugby title material in 2014, despite their continued but now precarious lead on the overall table.

Something has gone seriously stale for the Durban-based outfit, a situation all too evident for several weeks and prevalent again in their dull-as-ditchwater 16-9 loss to the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday.

Admittedly conditions were pretty miserable, but there have also been many far sprightlier Super Rugby games down the years in worse weather.

And Sharks impotence on the try-scoring front has become a worrisome phenomenon … you need to go back as far as March 15 to find the last time they even crossed the whitewash twice, in the 35-20 home victory over the Reds.

Since then, they have lost 23-19 to the Bulls away (one try), beaten the Lions 25-12 away (one try), beaten the Cheetahs 19-8 at home (one try), lost 34-18 to the Highlanders at home (no tries), beaten the Rebels 22-16 away (one try), and now failed to register one again in the latest reverse.

Only one other team in the entire competition, their 11th-placed compatriots the Lions, have notched fewer tries (16) than their 18 from 11 games.

On the brighter side, the Sharks remain the least leaky side at the other end of the pitch, with only 15 try concessions.

But their “tries for” tally pales in comparison with, for instance, the second-placed Chiefs (35 dot-downs) and the third-lying Brumbies (30).

Even the bottom-placed Stormers, with 21, have been more successful on the try-scoring front as they slowly remodel their game to find a more acceptable balance between their highly-regarded defence and attack.

On the subject of the Stormers, is the risk developing that the Sharks are to some extent taking on the same characteristics of the Capetonian side that was so competitive for several seasons recently, but never managed enough verve to go all the way to the overall spoils?

Jake White’s charges are less obsessively concerned with defence, perhaps, but it is also a fact that the Sharks just aren’t scaring enough teams with any meaningful ball-in-hand artistry.

Even as captain Bismarck du Plessis concedes they have to “go back to the drawing board” over the next few days to resolve several issues, the Sharks’ overseas tour hardly gets easier: Saturday’s next foes are a rampantly in-form Crusaders in their Christchurch stronghold.

Not only have the Sharks not won there yet in Super Rugby, but the ‘Saders are on a five-game hot streak of wins, just the latest being a magnificent 57-29 disposal of the Reds in Brisbane on Sunday.

It was the third time in four fixtures that they have notched 40 points or more, and the seven-time past champions are firmly in the running for the playoffs – they lie fourth overall now, five points behind the Sharks but with a game in hand.

So the Sharks have to find new dimensions fast if they are fly in the face of history statistically next weekend.

The latest round was another depressing one for South African teams generally against foreign opponents, with a nought-from-three outcome.

It meant that the slim playoffs hopes of the Bulls were not helped to any decent extent: they have only made up one slot to ninth (having leapfrogged the Blues) following their come-from-behind but ultimately thoroughly deserved triumph over the Stormers at Loftus.

The Force beating the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein and the brave Lions failing at the death to sensationally down the Highlanders in Dunedin meant the winning sides in those contests only strengthened their own finals series claims.

The Bulls lose a bit of momentum next weekend as they have a bye, but will be hoping the Stormers can do them a favour by seeing off the Force at Newlands.

In the feature match of the SA programme, however, the Cheetahs can greatly assist the causes of both the Bulls and Sharks if they shrug off the disappointment of their Force loss to catch the Brumbies in travel-weary mode and knock them over in their first tour match in South Africa (the second and final one is a titanic Loftus clash with the Bulls).

Victor Matfield and company would almost certainly bid farewell to any playoffs prospects if they botch that game in a fortnight.


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Better known as Bunny, Took over after Pissant went over to the "Dark Side"


  1. Ohhhhh Bunny-Bunny-Bunny-Baroo…..
    You’ve really nailed it on this one:

    JakeWhite’s plagiarism of ZeeBull’s script was always bound to lack the authenticity to really succeed. Like the difference between seeing Elvis perform….or just an Elvis Impersonator.

    Why should I care being a fan of “SA’s Team” – The Fun Bunch?
    Because as a fan of S15 a tourney that UNLIKE test rugby definitely has Festival component to it, there is but one cure for C-Cells, just like the Stormers before them.
    Messerschmitt-Willie LeRoux.
    C-Cells will offer Cheetahs the harbour of Durban this offseason to secure the cure to their offensive woes, how can the pauper Cheetahs say no?

    Bulls aren’t distracted by this drama in the least. Their dark minions continue to perfect their cynical concoction on yet ANOTHER playoff run…..deep in the bowels of Loftus:

    When will teams come up with a silver stake to silence Bulls dark heart?!?

  2. On thing for me is that I have never ever seen such a boring game like what we saw on Saturday between two teams that play to the same coach gameplan…..the Aussie commentators were choking at one stage to predict if they will kick or pass…..

    Jake can say what he want and Sharks supporters as well, but the way the Sharks have played since the Waratahs game they have no change in hell in winning this competition. They can be sure that they will meet Crusaders, Chiefs or Waratahs somewhere in the play=offs and they will run them to pieces……

    Sharks should have kept Venter and told Jake to play with himself…..

    The problem for a team like the Sharks now, and I can say this with understanding as my team played this way for far to long, is if you in this type of gameplan, it is difficult to change when you need to.

    I can really not see them getting anywhere with this way of playing and I really hope Jake the Snake proofs me wrong…

  3. The naysayers should not forget that the Sharks are still top of the log and only lost against the Brumbies because Frans Steyn missed 3 penalty kicks he usually lands. They have not lost to the Crusaders yet, but even if they do, they will still be in the best position to top the log.

    Predicting failure is a cop-out. One has to be correct only once to get confirmation.

  4. @Timeo: Timeo, nobody doubt their log position and that because of the easy draw they had… question the ability to play the game to win the championship.

    To end on top with nothing to show means nothing, ask me my team done that… the end of the day nobody care who ended where in the round stages but who were the Champions.

    I find it hard to believe this is a championship side….

  5. @Jacques(Bunny):

    On what basis do you say their draw has been easy?

    They are ahead of the Chiefs – who failed to beat the lowly Cheetahs and Bulls on their tour.
    The Brumbies – who have yet to tour.
    and the
    The Crusaders – who had one of the easiest tours possible.

  6. @Timeo: The same fact that the Lions had their home games early and that the reason for their Log position….home ground showed counts for something…..

    You can argue as much as you want but even Jake said they have a easy schedule…the shit still needs to be done on the field but it is much easier as what the Cheetahs and the Stormers had……

    Schedule plays a huge role in this…..teams traveling first have it much harder than those play at home….you can go and look through the history of this SuperShit…..

    But then again I will be proven wrong or right when it gets to semi’s…..

    Sharks only have Stormers at home still the rest is Crusanders, Blues Cheetahs and Stormers away….in anyone’s books that is difficult games……and the way they play now they will not win the Blues or the Saders…..

    Look I am a SA fan so who ever is their I support and I will like nothing more than to see them hit the Blues, Saders, Cheetahs and Stormers to end on top and ensure a home semi and Final with no play-off match…but the way it looks now is that they will end up number three or worst even four…..

    You could see Jake was worried after Saturdays game…..I just hope they can fix it and start winning the big game and get the points.

  7. @Jacques(Bunny):

    Let’s then look at the schedules for the other contending teams and compare them to the Sharks.

    The Sharks have only 1 home game left. The Brumbies and the Chiefs have two and the Crusaders 4. Based on current form then, one would have to say advantage Crusaders.

    But also look at who they still have to face: Sha, Hgh, Blu, Hur, For. Total current log position for those teams = 29
    The same measure for the Chiefs results 39, the Brumbies 48 and the Sharks 58.
    Based on opponents, the Sharks have the easiest forward run of the contending teams then.

    An implosion is still possible, but not inevitable. The Sharks have left a bunch of tries on the field through unforced errors in the last 10 meters to the line. Knock-ons, poor passes or silly penalties. It’s a sign of a team still coming to grips with the game-plan and also the result of injuries.

    Fix those relatively small matters and suddenly the Sharks will be extremely hard to beat.
    Don’t write them off yet.

  8. Newsflash to Rob Houwing and the rest of the Strompies:

    Comparing the Sharks to the Stormers is premature, they have not lost two home-semis in a row yet!

  9. FYI

    The following squad players remain sidelined with injuries at present: Prop Steven Kitshoff (knee), hooker Tiaan Liebenberg (neck), locks Eben Etzebeth (foot), Jurie van Vuuren (shoulder), De Kock Steenkamp (groin), Rynhardt Elstadt (shoulder), Gerbrandt Grobler (shoulder) and Manuel Carizza (wrist), Sikhumbuzo Notshe (knee), scrumhalves Louis Schreuder (fractured thumb) and Godlen Masimla (wrist), Gary van Aswegen (groin), wing Sailosi Tagicakibau (calf muscle) and fullbacks Gio Aplon (elbow) and Ryno Eksteen (knee).

  10. @Jacques(Bunny):

    in 2011 they lost to the Crusaders at home 10:29
    in 2012 they lost to the Sharks at home 19:26
    and in 1999 against the Highlanders

    The Sharks have never lost a home semi-final. They lost a home final in 2007 and that was only because the referee was struck (perhaps by Jesus) with blindness in the final seconds.

  11. @Timeo: And a Frans Steyn not kicking out the ball to end the game :soek:

    Sharks worst semi and final record from all teams, like the Stormers nobody remembers then really apart from that both teams can not win play-offs…..

  12. Fat Franny was shit, really crap and if the Sharks had the luxury he should have been dropped/substituted. 9 points, 2 kick offs direct and missed a penalty touch?

    They are both successful playing a game White is famous for – a territory-based style in which tactical kicking and a strangling defence is at a premium. From the pregame post.

    Jake is conservative and should have cut his teeth at Super rugby before coaching the boks. He fluked one world cup but saying that the snake is getting better. He knows he needs to peak at the tight time, like the wily Crusaders, not giving away all your secrets.

    The Sharks have awesome backline talent in SP, Jordaan, Sithole, Mvovo, JP and really should trust them more. South Africa is way too conservative and I see The Bulls embracing throwing the ball.
    I said this 10 years ago, be wary the day the bulls play running rugby thats the day they will own Supershit rugby.

    On side note baring excuses its poor management when you have soooo many injuries and is not an excuse in not getting fired but a reason to be fired.

    That is a lot assets going to waste. Lot of wasted investment.