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Beaten by a better team

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 9 Mar 2015 at 13:29
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

Gary Gold’s assessment of Saturday’s result at Newlands is certainly an apt one, but I can’t help thinking that it’s a question of emphasis on one specific word.

The Sharks, on Saturday, were beaten by a better team. This is not the same as being beaten by a better team, although I concede that the distinction is subtle (and probably won’t leave any of us feeling any better in any event). Gold was quick to agree that his squad, boasting 11 Springboks (or whatever) and five Super Rugby centurions in the starting line up under performed on Saturday, but added that simply having that number of top players in your line up does not guarantee success in a game of rugby.

If anything, maintains Gold, the strength of your side on paper often serves more to motivate the opposition than it does to aid you in any way.

That, I think, puts to bed the prospect that the Stormers, man for man, are necessarily any better as individual rugby players than the Sharks are, but there can be very little doubt that from a unity, cohesion and simply “being on the same flipping page” point of view, Allister Coetzee’s men were streets ahead. Gold spoke about “soft moments” costing his side – Lwazi Mvovo allowing a ball to bounce, Cobus Reinach and Odwa Ndgunane losing their heads in-goal to concede a penalty try and also numerous fumbles and silly mistakes on attack – all of which are the hallmark of a team that hasn’t quite learned to back each other and the system and tends to fall back on individualism when the chips are down.

It’s rather ironic – although again not at all comforting – that the Stormers themselves seemed to be in exactly the same position less than a year ago. They endured a torrid Super Rugby campaign, only to regroup and reform as a team during last year’s Currie Cup. Right now, they are playing as a tight-knit, cohesive unit and it’s that kind of dynamic that allowed them to withstand some furious Sharks pressure in the first half, regroup and come out to dominate the game in the second. They didn’t need to rely on any stars to pull off any moments of magic in the game and if anything, those few really big names on their team sheet (bar the irrepressible Duane Vermeulen) were arguably not among the chief architects of the win.

For the Sharks to turn things around, teamwork simply has be at the heart of everything they do, teamwork, trust and belief – in each other and in the system. Gold’s assessment of how to move forward is simple “we have to start by not panicking and by not stabbing each other in the back” and I hope he’s successful in promulgating that message. The answer here does not lie in making never-ending tweaks to the squad until only “big name” players remain; rather the opposite.

We need every player to check their name and reputation at the change room door.


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