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Cheetahs: very good. Sharks: work in progress


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Cheetahs, Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 16 Feb 2015 at 11:38
Tagged with : , , , , , , ,

We’re generally very quick to pounce on our own team’s failings, here at Sharksworld – in fact, I sometimes think that some of us are actually quite pleased to see them fail, in order to enjoy an opportunity to show the depth of our scorn and the extent of our keyboard-warrior wit.

This post is not about making the Sharks out to be any better than they were on Saturday, but rather to give a little credit to the Cheetahs who, if we’re honest, ended up being a hell of a lot better on the day than we expected. Other sources are heaping praise on the likes of Joe Pietersen – a Stormers discard who turned out to be a very effective general for his new team – and Coenie Oosthuizen, whose much maligned scrumwork in the number 3 jersey came up trumps against a Bok-laden Sharks front row.

The Cheetahs’ win, though, wasn’t one based on individual performances, but rather team cohesion and attitude, resulting in far better defence than we’ve come to expect and an impressively low error rate for this point in the season. It’s hard to really fault them on anything they did on Saturday – their set piece was solid, their discipline impeccable and they adapted far more quickly to the referee’s breakdown interpretations than the Sharks seemed able to. It’s hard to imagine the Cheetahs of 2014 putting in the sort of defensive effort that we saw in the last 4 minutes or so, denying the Sharks a crucial score with the odds stacked against them.

I’ll go so far as to suggest that the Cheetahs would probably have beaten just about any other Super Rugby side with the performance they put in on Saturday; the challenge, as always, is to maintain that level of performance against teams they hate less than the Sharks, which in the past has proved tough.

As for the Sharks? Well, I don’t have much more to say – nay to implore – than “be patient”. This is a team into its fifth coaching regime in as many campaigns. The players are only human and they will need time to adjust, to absorb and to excel. We tend to write them up very quickly based on not much real information and then write them off again even faster. I did say in my preview last week that we were going to have to wait and see and now that we have seen, we know that there is plenty of work to be done. Surprise, surprise.

In parting, let me offer some scant consolation. In 2012 (the last time the Sharks really did anything remarkable in Super Rugby) they lost two home derbies in the first two rounds, yet recovered from that slow start to qualify for the final. Those Sharks were properly under cooked in the early stages, yet were red hot by the time the competition reached its climax. 2013′s Currie Cup campaign started with a shocking home defeat to Griquas. It was a similar situation – the first game under a new coaching team and the knives did come out pretty quickly. Few here will remember the things they said after that game, especially given the way that campaign ended.



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