Luck is smiling on the Sharks

2014-04-08 00:00

Lady Luck smiling down on Jake White’s Sharks — The Sharks, who did not play, were in the fortunate position of knowing that no matter what happened over the weekend, they will be going into a new week of Super Rugby still sitting pretty at the top.

They have a game in hand and are two points ahead of the second-placed Brumbies. They have been good under White, but they are still to play a lot of games on the road. The confidence they’ve been able to build at home should serve them in good stead on their four-week trip Down Under next month. If the win over the Waratahs didn’t confirm that the Sharks are good, sitting at the top of the log after a weekend off should.

• The Lions may have had an impressive start to this Super Rugby campaign, but they’re still the Lions — The Lions have been good this year, their first season back after spending a year in the wilderness. Many expected them to be the whipping boys once again, but they’ve held firm, won a few games, surprised a few teams, and found themselves sitting in mid-table. The Lions in mid-table? Who would have thought? Last weekend reminded everyone that the Lions are, after all, the Lions, and they have a lot of frailties to their game and they lack big names. They proved it this weekend when they lost badly to possibly the worst Crusaders side ever to leave New Zealand.

• The Bulls are great at Loftus, but bad every­where else — At Loftus, the Bulls will run anyone — except for the Chiefs — off their feet. But, let them play outside of Pretoria just for once, and they become a bunch of calves, about to be sent to the abattoir for the slaughter.

The Hurricanes, with all their All Blacks, are not the most enterprising of sides, and Super Brus everywhere would have backed the mighty Blue Bulls to pick up a win on the road as they make their way up the table. But they lost. Fortunately for them, they’re still in the play-off places, and with the calibre of teams that are behind them, they should not miss out on a top six finish. They still have four games to play at Loftus, and one can be sure that they’ll pick up a good number of points in front of their loyal fans.

• New Zealand sides are fitter than their South African counterparts — Rugby players in New Zealand are fitter and stronger than those in South Africa. This was evident at Free State Stadium when the reigning champions Chiefs managed to come back from 34-10 down to draw 43-43. It was the second time on their South African tour that the Chiefs have managed to draw a game from a losing position. They did the same at Loftus two weeks ago. This must surely mean that South African players are not as fit as they are able to surge into a big commanding lead, but end up giving it all away in the latter stages of the game.

• Something’s definitely wrong at Newlands — How does one begin to describe the season the Stormers have been having without using any offensive expletives? The Newlands faithful, who through the years have been treated to awesome displays of running rugby were hugely let down on the weekend when the Stormers lay down and let the Waratahs have their way with them.

The ’Tahs, who were humiliated in Durban two weeks ago, weren’t at the top of their game at Newlands but they still walked away from the Cape with a 22-point win. So bad were the Stormers that Fijian winger Sailosi Tagicakibau touched the ball just twice in the first 60 minutes. The fans of the Cape side have developed a condition called “Arsenal Syndrome” where they have been calling for the head of their once successful coach Allister Coetzee. With Gert Smal coming in to shake things up, there should be changes in the near future.

• The Australian conference is actually quite interesting — The Force are fifth. WHAT? There are three Australian teams in the top six. WHAT? No Super Bru across the land gave the Force a chance in Brisbane against the Reds. Why should they? They’ve been the worst Australian team in the competition through the years. But, they’ve been having a good season, winning their last four games, including a win over the reigning champions, and a two-point victory over the Highlanders at the Glass House. They face the Waratahs next week and will be confident to get one over their rivals.

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