Talking points & fan analysis- Sharks 31-24 Lions 30 June 2018

The Lions’ seven game winning streak over the Sharks was broken as the latter kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 31-24 win at Kings Park. The result also means that the Jaguares, who beat the Stormers 25-14 later in the evening in Argentina, could leapfrog the Lions at the top of the South African conference (Lions 41 with 1 to play, Jaguares 38 with two to play).

Poor Lions substitutions:- Perhaps the turning point of the game for the Lions. The Joburg side had set piece dominance over the Sharks, especially at scrum time, and were absolutely bossing the home side for around 55 minutes.

Then, with the Lions camped near the Sharks line, Swys decided for a front row change, and the tide changed in the Sharks’ favour. The home side were able to win a scrum penalty, and the Lions’ set piece advantage was negated for the next twenty minutes.

Poor game management:- As mentioned before, the Lions dominated this game for 55 minutes, with the Sharks left to feed on scraps going forward and having to defend for their lives. However, the visitors opted not to take several kickable shots at goal, perhaps feeling that a bonus point was on at 21-11 (3 Lions tries to one of the Sharks), and that proved to be costly at the end.

Marx v Akker:- This game was effectively one between Malcolm Marx and Akker van der Merwe. Former Lions hooker Akker was one of the best Sharks players on show, and did everything he could to keep his side in the game before being replaced by Chiliboy Ralepelle.

Sharks dig deep for win:- The Sharks lost key loosie Jean-Luc du Preez to injury early in the game. Their early defence wasn’t great either- Lions flanker Cyle Brink should’ve never been allowed to brush aside Makazole Mapimpi and Cameron Wright the way he did for the Lions’ second try. However, the defence was on their own line was far much better, and coupled with the Lions’ poor decision making, kept them in the game.

On attack, the Sharks’ offload game didn’t work in the first half, with handling errors and turnovers robbing them of momentum. It improved after the hour mark, and they were also aided by a gift intercept from Harold Vorster.

Another impressive Sharks player was centre Andre Esterhuizen, the newly capped Springbok who scored a crucial try- his defence was key.

Sharks need another eighth man:- Daniel du Preez hasn’t had the same impact as his twin and the Sharks, who could once boast of unparalleled loose forward depth (remember the days of Coetzee, Alberts, Deysel, Kankowski, Daniel and Botes?), are now scraping the barrel here.

if Duane Vermeulen wants to be in South Africa for the 2019 season, the Sharks should probably attempt to sign him. He would solve their eighth man woes, and with his pilfering abilities, would help the unbalanced Sharks loose trio, who currently have no one really good at effecting turnovers.

Jesse Kriel racist or not? Kriel Mapimpi Video Wales Test 2018

Here is a video that is going viral on social media claiming that South African outside centre Jesse Kriel is racist for asking his centre partner Andre Esterhuizen to stand next to him instead of winger Makazole Mapimpi. The tweet gained traction after it was retweeted by well known anchor Robert Marawa.

Kriel’s probably the furthest from a racist in this Springbok squad- he’s even gone with captain Siya Kolisi to the latter’s township, but South Africa, as many know, remains a deeply divided and sensitive country about race. And for what it is worth, he even set up Mapimpi for a try in the same game! Continue reading “Jesse Kriel racist or not? Kriel Mapimpi Video Wales Test 2018”

Sharks’ first ever loss to Jaguares | Fan Comments & Analysis- Moyano hat trick Jaguares 29-13 Sharks 2018

After losing to the Melbourne Rebels for the first time in their history earlier this year, the Sharks also suffered their first ever defeat to the Jaguares as they went down 29-13 in Argentina. The crowd of 19,214, the biggest the Jaguares have had in attendance for a while, saw the home side extend their run to six straight wins thanks to a hat trick from Moyano.

The Sharks were in it for a while, but as usual were let down by their handling errors. The backline didn’t get going and their cause wasn’t helped by an early missed penalty from Robert du Preez and a crucial knock on from Lwazi Mvovo with the tryline at his mercy. The Mvovo miss came at a crucial point when the game was at 17-13, and another Sharks knock on from a promising position just minutes later saw the Jaguares score on the counter.

The Jaguares owed much of their lead to silly defensive errors from the Sharks, like with Nkosi for the Jags’ second try, but they’ve been an improved outfit under Mario Ledesma and will be a serious contender for the playoffs after this season.

As for the Sharks, inconsistency continues to plague them. They also had skipper Ruan Botha red carded late in the game, and did not even manage a bonus point from the game. Their playoff hopes hang by a thread (they’re out of the top eight after this defeat), but fortunately for them, John Mitchell’s Bulls also lost to the Brumbies.

Sharks 38-12 Highlanders Match Report & Analysis- Poor Lima Sopoaga performance in Durban

The Sharks produced one of their finest performances of the 2018 Super Rugby season as they swatted aside the Highlanders 38-12 in Durban. The visitors, who had upset the Bulls in Pretoria the week before, would’ve fancied their chances against Rob du Preez’s men, but the home side dominated from the word go and were a totally different side from the one that had got mauled by the Bulls before the bye week.

Flyhalf Lima Sopoaga had a poor outing for the Highlanders. He was first beaten to an early box kick by Ruan Botha, which allowed Akker van der Merwe to score in the first minute of the game. For the Sharks next try, he was unable to stop Makazole Mapimpi in a one on one, and when the score was 14-7, he made an error in claiming a high ball that resulted in a scrum to the Sharks, and a subsequent penalty that flyhalf Rob du Preez scored.

Du Preez set up some scintillating tries, with his brothers Jean-Luc and Daniel in equally good knick. The loose forwards’ hands did let them down a bit in the first half, but the offloads stuck in the second, and the Sharks were even able to get a bonus point at the end, something that could help them in what’s becoming a crowded looking SA Conference table.

How important is Tendai Beast Mtawarira to the Sharks?

They tend to look a bit lost without him, and his reassuring presence at scrum time again helped them establish set piece dominance over the Highlanders, whose hopes of winning the NZ conference were dealt a huge blow with this loss.

Auckland Blues 40-63 Natal Sharks Match Analysis | Du Preez brothers give Auckland the Blues

A virtuoso performance from the Du Preez brothers saw the Sharks pick up their first win on tour in 2018 with a 63-40 win over the Blues. The visitors, coming off losses to the Brumbies and the Rebels, had a good recent record against the Blues but had lost in their last visit to Auckland, and Tana Umaga’s men would’ve fancied their chances.

Instead, a stellar performance from blindside Jean-Luc du Preez and his elder brother, flyhalf Rob du Preez, guided the Sharks to a win in this 100 point clash. Jean-Luc was colossal in this game, swatting away Blues players like flies. It was his manhandling of Murphy Taramai that effectively set the platform for the Sharks’ opening try of the game and bar a ten minute stage in the second half where they appeared to lose their heads following a yellow to winger Sbu Nkosi, the Sharks were good value for their money.

Flyhalf Rob, son of the Sharks coach Rob Snr, netted 38 points from the boot- the third highest ever in Super Rugby history for an individual. He had a 100% record from the tee and would’ve done his Springbok chances no harm at all.

The Sharks weren’t flawless- their defence at times was as bad as the Blues’, if not worse. But they did the key parts better- Louis Schreuder dragging the mighty Akira Ioane into touch when the Sharks were 16-7 ahead was a key moment. Continue reading “Auckland Blues 40-63 Natal Sharks Match Analysis | Du Preez brothers give Auckland the Blues”

Golden Lions and Blue Bulls Super Rugby Attendances 2018

Here are official home crowd & attendance figures for home games involving South African clubs Emirates Lions and the Blue Bulls in Super Rugby 2018. The Lions play at Emirates Airline Park (Ellis Park) in Johannesburg while the Bulls, coached by John Mitchell this year, have their home games at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

Stats last updated after Lions vs Stormers on 7 April, 2018

Blue Bulls Loftus Super Rugby Crowds 2018

Bulls vs Hurricanes 2018 Attendance 9,506 24 February (Bulls 21-19 Canes)
Blue Bulls vs Lions 2018 Attendance 20,789 3 March (Bulls 35-49 Lions)
Blue Bulls vs Stormers 2018 Attendance 23,245 31 March (Bulls 33-23 Stormers)
Blue Bulls v Rebels 2018 Attendance NOT ANNOUNCED 21 April (Bulls 28-10 Rebels)
Blue Bulls vs Highlanders 2018 Attendance NOT ANNOUNCED 28 April (Bulls 28-29 Highlanders)
Blue Bulls vs Sharks 2018 Attendance NOT ANNOUNCED 12 May (Bulls 39-33 Sharks)
Blue Bulls v Brumbies 2018 Attendance 8,189 26 May (Bulls 28-38 Brumbies)

Total Bulls Super Rugby 2018 Attendance:- 61,729

Average Blue Bulls 2018 Attendance:- 15,432 (61729/4) Continue reading “Golden Lions and Blue Bulls Super Rugby Attendances 2018”

Super Rugby Jersey Clash 2018- Stormers and Blues both wear Blue! Pictures Same colour

A shirt clash in rugby isn’t uncommon (unfortunately!) and we were witness to another in the Super Rugby game between the Stormers and the Blues in Cape Town on 17 March, 2018. Both teams have the same primary kit colour (blue) and in this Cape Town afternoon sun, it felt like there was one team on the pitch with 30 players!

Here are some photos of the jersey clash between WP and the Blues.

The Stormers won the game 37-20. Continue reading “Super Rugby Jersey Clash 2018- Stormers and Blues both wear Blue! Pictures Same colour”

Brumbies 24-17 Sharks Analysis, Ratings and Match Report | Esterhuizen injured, Poor Sharks go down in Brisbane

The Natal Sharks’ indifferent start to the 2018 Super Rugby season continued as they slumped to a 24-17 loss to the Brumbies at GIO Stadium. The Brumbies, like the Sharks, had only won against the Sunwolves going into this game and had been beaten by both the Rebels and the Reds. This therefore looked like a good place for potential points for Rob du Preez Snr’s men, with the Sharks having won 27-22 at the same stadium in Round 2 last year.

The Sharks were hit by the late withdrawal of Beast Mtawarira, the loosehead who seems to have stepped up a major level in the Natal jersey this season, necessitating the promotion of Juan Schoeman to No.1 and Mzamo Majola to the bench.

The Brumbies scored the only try of the first half through Lausii Taliauli. While Curwin Bosch showed some improvement in his one on one tackling in this game, his defence for the Taliauli is not something he will rememember very fondly. Another piece of non existent tackling from Mapimpi saw Speight score early in the second half, and while the Sharks hit back through tries to Du Toit and Bosch, they could only take a losing bonus point home.

The Sharks were their own worst enemies, failing to make their opportunities count. Their ball handling was atrocious and decision making was poor- giving away pressure releasing penalties in the opposition 22, messing up their own scrums and lineouts in crucial attacking positions– the list goes on and on. The Brumbies lost 2 players to the sin bin, and the Sharks were only able to score seven points in those 20 minutes, and that too after several attempts at the rolling maul.

The scrum, with Thomas du Toit at 3 experiment continuing, was penalised a number of times in the first half by Glen Jackson. The pack seemed ruderless, with the loose trio in particular, looking CC quality at best. Tera Mtembu was guilty of some errors at crucial points of the game, and the difference Jean-Luc du Preez made when he came on to the field was enormous. The Sharks replacement front row (Majola, Ralepelle and Meyer) didn’t enjoy much success either, and were on the wrong side of Jackson’s whistle.

The Brumbies weren’t very flash either, but they got the job done. They had the worst kicking percentage in Super Rugby this year among the Australian sides going into this game, but Wharenui Hawera had a stellar evening with the boot, nailing five of his six kicks to keep the home side ahead.

The Sharks’ only real piece of good play came for Bosch’s late try, the only time a backline move seemed to come off, and it gave them one bonus point. Also, worryingly for them, they lost Andre Esterhuizen to injury in the second half, and RdP Snr. will be hoping that his influential inside centre isn’t out for too long.

Ratings: The loosies had a bad day, with no one in the pack, except for Jean-Luc really playing at the level they should’ve been. JL is a Springbok, and the difference between his carrying, and that of his teammates, was quite something. The Sharks seem to be missing the intimidating presence of Etienne Oosthuizen at 4. A disappointing evening for the No.8 Mtembu, who hasn’t made the most of his opportunities in the last two games. Most of the team today could probably be summed up in three words- clumsy, lethargic and lacking passion. At this rate, it will be a long Super Rugby season.

Natal Sharks vs Waratahs 2018 24-24 Analysis- Keegan Daniel error Sharks draw game they should’ve won

This essentially was a game that the Sharks should’ve won, and won comfortably, but kept finding ways to gift the struggling Waratahs a way back into it, and the Australians remained unbeaten in Super Rugby after a last gasp try gave them a 24-24 draw at GrowthPoint Kings Park.

One of those errors was from Sharks eighthman Keegan Daniel, whose brainfart allowed the Tahs an easy try when the Sharks were leading 17-10 and had the men from NSW on the mat. Daniel is an intelligent player and probably has the best link play among the Sharks loose forwards despite being on the wrong side of 30, but his poor decision to take a quick throw in, allowed the Tahs a way back in and halted the Sharks’ momentum. Continue reading “Natal Sharks vs Waratahs 2018 24-24 Analysis- Keegan Daniel error Sharks draw game they should’ve won”