The Crusaders humiliated the Sharks in the first semi-final in Christchurch earlier today, winning the game 38-6 after the fat lady sang her final tune.
If we our honest with ourselves we will admit that the Sharks was never in this game with too many missed changes, bad decisions and too many mistakes from a team we just expected much more in a game like this.
Certain decisions from the Sharks would have most supporters ask, “What the heck are you doing?”. Only Jake White will know why Patrick Lambie was given the responsibility to take the kicks at gaol in instead of Frans Steyn who has kicked brilliantly throughout the season. Lambie just came back from a long injury lay off and to have started with him was a gamble in itself.
Again the Sharks were their worst enemy from the first minute and gave the Crusaders all the opportunity to take control of the game.
We spoke last week a lot about the aimless kicking from the Sharks team and the first try of the Crusaders came of yet another senseless kick from them in their own twenty two.
Unfortunately the inabilities too put pressure on the Crusaders in their kicking game was not the only problem for the boys from Durban, as their forwards were dominated by the Crusaders in the scrums, line outs and rucks.
Referee Jackson let the Crusaders fall over the rucks and mauls which gave them a lot of momentum but overall he had a brilliant game.
For the Sharks they needed their senior players to stand up but it never really happened. Bismarck tried his hardest but even he will admit that this was one of his and his team’s worst performances this year.
One aspect that will unfortunately stand out are that the Sharks had no “Plan B” and kept with an ineffective game plan. This is almost as bad as the Stormers defensive game plan the last couple of years which they were unable to score tries. You just cannot win semi-finals and finals this way.
A hard pill to swallow for the Sharks and their supporters and I believe they are better off with the way they played last year and in some games this year with bringing their quality backs into play.
Jake White is not all to blame and the players need to look at the quality they put on the park today. You can have the best game plan but if your players do not turn up on the pitch you have nothing.
Excuses can be plenty but if we are all honest, then we will admit that the Crusaders outsmart and outplayed the Sharks and deserve yet another spot in a final of the competition.
Crusaders: 38 – Tries: Kieran Read, Nemani Nadolo, Willi Heinz, Johnny McNicholl, Matt Todd;Conversions: Dan Carter (2); Penalties: Carter (3)
Sharks: 6 – Penalties: Patrick Lambie (2)