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.

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.

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”

List- Natal Sharks Rugby End of the Season Awards 2017- Player of the Year Winners

Here are the winners from the Durban based Sharks’ end of the season awards for 2017.

The Sharks lost in the quarterfinals (a tightly contested 23-21 game) to the Lions in Super Rugby 2017, and reached the final of the Currie Cup before going down to Western Province at Kings Park. Continue reading “List- Natal Sharks Rugby End of the Season Awards 2017- Player of the Year Winners”

Video Odwa Ndungane try vs Crusaders 2007 for Sharks (Ruan Pienaar sideline conversion- Sharks 27-26 Crusaders)

Long serving Natal Sharks wing Odwa Ndungane makes his 249th and final appearance for the Durban franchise this weekend in the Currie Cup, and here we take a look at one of his most memorable tries- the last minute winner when the Sharks won 27-26 against the Crusaders in Durban back in the 2007 Super Rugby season. Ruan Pienaar slotted in a tough conversion from the sideline to send Sharks fans into delirium. A great counter-attacking Sharks try, and one where Adi Jacobs played a pivotal role.

This was also the game where Ndungane had botched a certain gimme try earlier in the game with the scores tied at 13-13. He redeemed himself and how! Continue reading “Video Odwa Ndungane try vs Crusaders 2007 for Sharks (Ruan Pienaar sideline conversion- Sharks 27-26 Crusaders)”

Leolin Zas Sharks Signing- Makazole Mapimpi & Robert Du Preez Jnr to move to Natal too

The Sharks have pulled off a triple coup of sorts, with the acquisitions from Leolin Zas and Robert du Preez Junior from Western Province/Stormers and Makazole Mapimpi from the Cheetahs. All three signings are practically 100% done- just haven’t been officially confirmed by the Sharks. The three are in addition to lock Gideon Koegelenberg, whom the Sharks have acquired on a two year deal from Zebre.

Wing Mapimpi impressed during Super Rugby with the Kings in 2017- check out this video where he embarrassed Karmichael Hunt, and is currently playing for Free State/Cheetahs.

The Sharks are a bit short on pacy wings, with Sbu Nkosi and Kobus van Wyk the only real speedsters in the side. Odwa Ndungane and Lwazi Mvovo, the other wings, are the other side of 30, with Mvovo also looked upon as a full back option. Continue reading “Leolin Zas Sharks Signing- Makazole Mapimpi & Robert Du Preez Jnr to move to Natal too”

Kobus van Wyk June van der Westhuizen Marriage 2017- Sharks Rugby Winger Married

Sharks winger and former Baby Bok Kobus van Wyk got married to girlfriend June van der Westhuizen earlier this year. He missed a Currie Cup game for the Sharks owing to his marriage!

Van Wyk played at outside centre in South Africa’s 2012 JWC final win over New Zealand at Newlands Continue reading “Kobus van Wyk June van der Westhuizen Marriage 2017- Sharks Rugby Winger Married”

Warren Whiteley named 58th Springbok Captain- Bok Squad to face France 2017- 31 Man Roster

Golden Lions eighthman Warren Whiteley has been named by coach Allister Coetzee as South Africa’s 58th rugby captain after the retirement of Adriaan Strauss.

While Whiteley has excelled at Super Rugby level and possesses excellent communication and leadership skills, there are a few who still doubt whether he is South Africa’s best option at 8, with his performances not quite at the level of what Duane Vermeulen produced at test level for the Boks. The Stormers loose forward was one of the best players during the Heyneke Meyer era before his departure to French outfit Toulon.

Vermeulen is one of four overseas players included in this squad, with the others being Steven Kitshoff, Francois Hougaard and Frans Steyn.

The Golden Lions (9) and Stormers (7) make up half the squad, with the Bulls (5), Sharks (4), Overseas (4) and Cheetahs (2) finishing the 31 member list. Continue reading “Warren Whiteley named 58th Springbok Captain- Bok Squad to face France 2017- 31 Man Roster”