A collective team effort saw the Sharks over power the Bulls in every facett of play and ensured that they kept their play off chances alive. I initially intended to do a player v player rating because I feel it was just one of those nights where everything worked for them, but that would border the longevity of this post.
It urks me to think that the Sharks could play so well, and yet remain a inconsistent unit. We defeated the Stormers and Bulls, and showed that we could score tries against them, but we lose against a team like the Lions. No offence to the latter, they have showed some form of bite, but who can blame them for not being as optimistic as the next team. Still the Sharks came into the game as underdogs, having last defeated the Bulls on their own homeground in 2007.
They also had injury woes with Pat Lambie, Willem Alberts, Steven Sykes and Paul Jordaan all ruled out due to injury and this hampered their preparations during the week. In came Fred Michalak, Peter Steph Du Toit, Ryan Kankowski and Frans Steyn. They could still bolster a strong reserve bench but had everything to play for. Even I was not convinced that we would get a win, not even four tries but boy was I surprised.
I think if it carries on this way, I should rather write them off every week, maybe they will play with more consistency. Frans Steyn made a huge impact upon his return and Sharks fans can rejoice that the prodigal son has returned. Fred Michalak seems to have found some decent form, having been good in a few games in a row now, guess the joys of Fatherhood has changed his perception. Ryan Kankowski showed why he is still so highly rated, being promoted to the nr 8 jumper and also taking controls of the line outs. What I saw impressed me, him showing leadership skills and also applying himself putting pressure on the Bulls at line out time. Peter Steph was promising. 38 minutes he played but showed why he was such a star for the Baby Boks. He played much of that minutes with an injury and was replaced by an able youngster in Juandre Marias.
What is more worrying for me is the fact that Hougaard, Spies, Olivier and Steyn had such poor games. Yes they were kept at bay, but Heyneke Meyer needs to teach these players that resting on your laurels might not keep you in a team. That is after all how rugby is supposed to be played and administrated.
This weekend will see the Sharks take on their “Bogey team” in the Cheetahs. I hope that they bring their A game and secure their play off spot. I look forward to this weekend, but also realise that the Sharks has it all to play for and if they continue on this path they may surprise many.