What a game of rugby played by the Sharks and Stormers this weekend. It had ups and downs, moments of brilliance and moments of stupidity. Yes my favourite team lost but it wasn’t unexpected, and kudos to the Sharks for winning against all odds. As a nation we will be supporting them come finals time and hope they can produce the same game against the Chiefs.
Once again the platform for the Sharks was laid by the forwards. Their senior players in particular raised their hands and made telling contributions. The form loosies inSouth Africaat the moment are definitely the Sharks trio of Daniel, Coetzee and Kankowski. In my opinion Daniel is the top loosie forSouth Africaat the moment. He doesn’t just lead the team well but also leads from the front. In contrast Jean’s leadership is exemplary but his game play is not.
Experience, in my opinion, was the deciding factor in the game. The frontrow was where the platform was laid for the rest of the team, and you’d expect nothing less from a Springbok frontrow. The Stormers weakness was tighthead. If the Stormers want to become better they need to find an international class tighthead. Brok Harris just doesn’t cut it anymore.
The Stormers senior players didn’t rise to the occasion either. Jean was having a normal game, Juan de Jongh missed tackles, Grant was industrious with ball in hand but his kicking was shocking, as was Joe Pietersen’s and Duvenage’s. Duvenage is a consistent scrumhalf but will have to find an attacking edge to his game. He doesn’t break and thus doesn’t keep the opposition guessing.
The Stormers’ game plan also doesn’t giving them the luxury of trailing. They were too defensive minded. If they build up a lead it is easier for them to keep it than it is to chase one down. The defensive system works, of that there is no doubt, but they didn’t adapt when it mattered. They did show what they were capable of in the build up to Aplon’s try though. They showed patience, good decision making and good hands, but after that they went back to a frenetic form of play instead of just building systematically like they did with that try.
The Sharks deserved to win this game. They were better in all aspects and hungrier than the Stormers on the day. Sharks rugby looks strong. The only positive Stormers have of this season is that they have shown an amazing depth. Now that depth needs experience… and a tighthead.