Sharks ready now

2014-04-15 00:00

The Sharks will go on tour with a lot of confidence:

AFTER beating the Lions in Johannesburg, Jake White’s Sharks will now be confident of winning their next two games — against the Cheetahs and Highlanders — at home, which will be good for their trip Down Under.

But did the Sharks really win their first away game of the season over the weekend? Looking at the stands — on TV — there was a large amount of black and white paraphernalia in the stands as Sharks fans came out in full force to support the visitors.

The South African Conference has now become a one-horse race with the Sharks ahead of the Bulls — in second — by a massive nine points with just under half of the regular season played. It looks like lessons have been learnt from last season.

The Cheetahs are not very far off from being the best attacking team in Super 15 :

Naka Drodtske’s could just about be the best attacking team in Super Rugby. They’ve scored more points (213) than anyone this season and only the Brumbies and the Chiefs have scored more tries than them.

The one stat, though, that should not be avoided is that they have given away the most points (303), conceding 35 tries in the process.

On attack against the Crusaders, they looked like a team gunning for the title, managing to cross the seven-time champions’ tryline four times.

Another area where the Cheetahs struggled was at the breakdown, where the Crusaders won 10 turn­overs. Four of the six tries that were scored by the Crusaders were a result of a turnover.

The Stormers had a better weekend :

Stormers fans in the Cape must be enjoying the beginning of the week knowing that their team didn’t lose for a change.

Their position at the bottom of the table was never in any real threat.

But, with the Cheetahs going down to the ’Saders, they know that victory over the Lions at Newlands this weekend could take them off the foot of the table, a position the rich- in-history franchise has no right occupying.

A chance to recharge their batteries will have done them good, and they will be looking to avenge the humiliation they suffered at the hands of the Lions in Ellis Park in week two.

The Bulls want to get their tour over and done with quickly :

Victor Matfield or no Victor Matfield, the Bulls just can’t seem to buy a win. At the rate the Bulls are going, they wouldn’t be able to hit a barn door with a banjo, and they must be hoping their tour Down Under ends quickly.

They still have two games to play in Australia, so they better put plasters on those bruises, knuckle down and try to record on the road. Or they will come back to the country massively short on confidence, like their eternal rivals in the Cape.

May the Force be with you :

Super Brus will know now to back the Force. The perennial underachievers from Perth were never fancied, and after losing their first two games, there was a sense of “here we go again”. But, they managed to turn it around and now find themselves in fourth place on the Super Rugby table, and have leapfrogged the all-of-a-sudden bad Waratahs.

With the Brumbies on a bye next weekend, a win against the Rebels will send the Force to the top of the Australian Conference.

No one saw this coming. In the previous eight years of their short Super Rugby history, the Force have never managed to make the play-offs. But they surely do feel that things are about to change in their ninth year of existence.

The Chiefs picked up some South African habits :

The Chiefs are a great side. In two weeks of their tour of South Africa, the reigning two-time champions managed to come back from the dead to snatch draws against the Cheetahs and the Bulls.

But in two games, the men from Waikato have picked up so many bad South African habits, they’d be able to drive a rusty Ford Cortina through Brakpan unscathed.

In their game against the Rebels — the same Rebels sitting near the foot of the table — the champions went into a 19-point lead and were looking good for a big win, and make many Super Brus happy. But they fell asleep at some point and just let it slip, allowing the Melbournians back in. They eventually won the game 22-16, but it was a little too close, and they should have won by a mile.

Nemani Nadolo is big and Teboho Mahoje can play :

Nemani Nadolo is massive. The man is so big he makes it seem as though Jonah Lomu comes from Middle Earth.

At 125 kg, the Crusaders’ Fijian winger was clearly born at a time when meat was cheap, and he showed how devastating he could be when he ran riot in Bloemfontein, scoring three tries against the Cheetahs.

In the same fixture, flanker Teboho Mahoje announced himself on the big stage in only his second Super Rugby appearance when he ran over two Crusaders defenders and ran the length of half the field to score under the posts. The 23-year-old Mahoje was voted the best player in last year’s Varsity Cup, so he can play a bit.

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