Feeding frenzy

2013-03-24 10:00

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Rebels suffer the monster bite of a rejuvenated Durban side, who made rugby history yesterday.

When they woke up, the last thing the Rebels would have thought about was being Shark bait.

That puts it very mildly.

Even wounded seals, sharks’ favoured natural prey, would have put up better resistance.

The result was the Sharks posting their biggest winning margin in their history.

They will have two weeks to savour it before the Crusaders come knocking.

The visitors did not do justice to their name.

The Rebels, the weakest team in the Australian conference, if not in the tournament, are not a gauge by which any team can accurately measure its skill.

The Sharks were beyond horrible against the Brumbies and the Rebels seemed to have no cause, but there was none of the gutlessness that highlighted the Sharks’ pallid performance last week.

All facets of their game had improved tenfold, but the biggest lesson accrued from Jake White’s team was the quick offload and ball retention.

Their first try, scored by Louis Ludik, had all the hallmarks of the Canberra outfit, with the hosts biting deep into the Rebels’ lines without any response.

The intensity with which the try was executed could have been very handy last week.

After all, someone has to take the backlash as the Sharks are too good a team to produce consistently bad performances.

Of the changes that were made, the most telling were those of Meyer Bosman and Pieter-Steph du Toit.

The Sharks pack may scrum well, but they are not the most physically imposing.

The youngster imposed himself on a journeyman Rebels pack.

The fact that the Sharks used the maul to score three of their first-half tries was indicative of their physical dominance.

Du Toit’s bullocking runs from second- or third-phase ball created acres of space for the backs.

When Jean Deysel and Willem Alberts return, woe betide teams that do not have the stomach for a fight.

With Bosman at 12, the Sharks backs were like spoilt kids in a sweet shop.

The judicious kicking and superb distribution ensured the dangerous James O’Connor was kept quiet.

For such a quality player in a weak team, he’s better served by being in a team where his talents would be better used.

Besides Mitch Inman’s sledgehammer tackling, the Rebels came to Durban with no plan.

At times, it seemed they were playing touch rugby while masquerading as crash test dummies.

When they had a one-man advantage after Cobus Reinach’s yellow card for a tip tackle in the 26th minute, they still shipped two tries.

Should they face the Southern Kings in this kind of form, the Eastern Capers could well have a chance of registering their first away win.

They clash on April 13 in Melbourne, but their immediate concern will be that of the Cheetahs, who completed an admirable three wins from four matches on their Australasian tour.

That used to be a pipe dream not so long ago.

They weren’t much better in the second half either as the Sharks more than doubled their first-half try count, breaking what was looking like a worrying drought.

It was messy stuff and the visitors did not seem to be perturbed with the constant trooping to the halfway line.

At some stage, the Sharks were scoring at more than a point a minute and they did not let up.

They were intent on blanking the visitors, but one successful foray by the Rebels spared the Aussies the ultimate embarrassment of a whitewash.

The Sharks deserved as much, but finally conceded a late try through Scott Higginbotham.

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