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Premier Division
Xerox Golden Lions 10 10 48
Vodacom Blue Bulls 10 8 39
DHL Western Province 10 7 35
Toyota Free State Cheetahs 10 3 24
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Time to turn the screws

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 24 Feb 2015 at 10:17
Tagged with : , , , , , , , ,

The win over the Lions was wonderful for the Sharks and I’m sure, as fans, we are all still buzzing after the great wet weather performance that delivered a rather unexpected bonus point. For the Sharks team, though, those celebrations would have been over by Sunday already and all at Kings Park are already fully focused on the next challenge: Saturday’s trip to Loftus.

This is Super Rugby, after all. After a poor performance against the Cheetahs, the Sharks will have been very relieved to get that opening win, but time to rest on past successes is not a luxury that any side can afford in this competition. And while the set piece – in fact the general forward – performance against the Lions was superb, it helps the Sharks nothing if they are not able to replicate it at Loftus.

That the Bulls look vulnerable and disorganised at the moment is not up for debate – but this fact only adds further pressure to a Sharks outfit that will now be expected to win and win well in Pretoria. Loftus is a ground that has brought its share of great victories to the Sharks, but has also been responsible for some painful defeats and if there’s one lesson we can learn from history, it’s that getting ahead of yourself is likely to lead to heartbreak at the highveld fortress.

Gary Gold has hinted at a little rotation this week; that in itself, while necessary, is perhaps cause for concern. Ryan Kankowski is a man who might well come strongly into contention to add height and lineout prowess to the back row; otherwise it would make sense to me to keep the pack (and the tight five especially) together this week. Lourens Adriaanse is a man who now needs to be brought closer to the action, since Jannie du Plessis will need to be rested before too long, while Mouritz Botha could also have a role to play.

It’s hard to imagine the coaches breaking up the impressive halfback pairing at this stage, but the need to get Fred Zelinga onto the park and in the groove at some stage over the next fortnight will be key; after all, as per agreement with the Boks, Pat Lambie cannot play every match and the Sharks need to balance game time across the squad – hopefully without disrupting their fledgling winning momentum.

The team’s goal this week, though, must surely be to take what they did against the Lions and turn it up a notch against a Bulls outfit that looks vulnerable. It’s time for that Sharks pack to step up and reclaim their mantle as the best in this competition.


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