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SHARKS VS BULLS (KINGS PARK)

Neil Jardine

Captained Rhodesia 1962 – 1969 Rector of Michaelhouse. (1978-1986)

"Rugby is a thinking game – its’ not a running or a kicking game. This mania for running with the ball and playing open rugby at all costs is stupid – you must adapt yourself to the circumstances and play to your strength"

Now 50 years later Niel Jardine writes for Frosty Rugby Fans ...

 

SHARKS VS BULLS (KINGS PARK)

 

Four tries to none says it all. The Sharks were more focused, more driven, more decisive and more physical. They also showed evidence of shrewd coaching – consistent control of the ball in all basic plays, attention to detail, in particular the fundamental skills, i.e. scrums, lineouts (superb), passing and handling. They were quicker too to the breakdown and more effective when they got there.

 

When forwards work hard to gain possession, they have the right to expect their backs to use the ball profitably. On the whole, they would not have been disappointed. The ball was seldom kicked away without some purpose.

 

Lambie controlled the overall strategy and his outside backs were brilliant. Paul Jordaan is an outstanding talent. He has all the requisite skills, runs like the wind and has the swerve and side step as well. His Springbok opponent, J.J. Engelbrecht has speed and power but little guile. The Bulls three-quarters seemed at sixes and sevens and had no discernable pattern of effective attack.

 

In the modern game with defence so seldom penetrated by orthodox backline play, coaches have to think out of the box. This means astute analysis of opponents tactics, how they position themselves at the breakdown, how far behind the advantage line certain key players receive the ball, whether the fullback can kick equally well with either foot etc. So how to then “break the line?” It needs more than simply shovelling the ball out along to the wing. Creative, unorthodox thinking is required.

 

Think back to last year's Currie Cup final where the Stormers were out-thought and so ultimately out-played. The Sharks' overall strategy was to keep on the front foot – nothing special in that – but, more importantly, every little device was used to unsettle their opponents with unexpected tactics.

On that day, Charl McLeod was meticulous in the use of chip kicks to keep the Stormers in disarray.

He kicked with pinpoint accuracy. The Stormers were turned round. The coaches, who came up with that, deserved their victory. If ever one wanted evidence that rugby is not just a running or a scrumming or a lineout or a kicking game, but a THINKING game, this was it.

 

Which brings me to the most exciting of the Shark's tries. It came from the realisation that if you cannot penetrate man to man, you absolutely must find the extra man. This man was Lwazi Mvovo, who came from the blind side between the centres, slightly behind play, so that Lambie could give him a soft pass which he took and thundered through the gap. Try! I was out of my seat.

 

So, apart from selection of skipper and kicker, the next essential is to identify line-breakers, those who have lightning speed, strength and the confidence to burst through the defence. It means planning to ensure that these players are used judiciously and dynamically to change the course of a match. Blindside wings have been massively under-utilised over the years, but, with coaches who see the whole picture, their time has come.

 

What a game! Final Score - Sharks 36 – Bulls 16

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