Our take on the Sharks victory! plus ... Golden Lions vs WP

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 ...

The better side won in the WP versus Golden Lions match: greater sustained pressure, better basic skills and more discipline over the course of an absorbing game. The WP were more focused, cool under pressure, and very skilled in the fundamental skills (As we've come to expect, the scrums were once again a disaster area with repeated examples of infringements. If those in authority don't address this important aspect of the game, the tight phases will degenerate into a game within a game and become relatively irrelevant). The passing and handling of the WP backs was superb. As for support-play, the WP players showed impressive cohesion and saw to it that no breakaway players such as Fourie and Ntubeni lacked options on both sides. Aplon's try was an exception but then his hallmark, given a few yards to get going, is to bewilder the opposition with his deceptive lines of attack. The Golden Lions did not 'have his number'. Catrakilis, who improves with every match, gave a polished display and his goal kicking was immaculate. WP's relentless assault on the porous lines of the visitors' defence, ensured that they dominated the game for 90% of the game.

The Golden Lions stuck to their strategy of subdue and penetrate and then to swing the ball wide. But WP have an outstanding defence coach and they followed his technique to the letter. Minnie was his customary indefatigable self and led by example. Sustained effort and a subsequent try by Whiteley late in the game was evidence of their 'never-say-die' attitude, but it was just not enough; too much possession given away, too many fundamental errors including a lack of discipline which among others, led to a penalty in the last seconds of the first half which Katrakilis duly slotted. 33-16 was a fair reflection of the run of play.

In the Sharks versus Cheetahs match, Patrick Lambie, with good ball from both tight and open play, put his stamp on the match from the start. It brought to mind his amazing performance a couple of years ago when he decimated WP in the Currie Cup final at King's Park, scoring all 25 points including two unforgettable tries. His hand-off of on Schalk Burger en route to his second try was a memorable moment Sharks supporters will not forget. But the Sharks victory came from teamwork and many others shone on the day such as Odwa Ndungane, whose speed and ball skills are out of the top drawer. There were a small but insane number of errors from the Sharks; what on earth was Jean Deysel thinking when he attempted a grubber kick in a notably inept manner. His strength of course is in carrying the ball up and smashing into the opposition. SP Marais also executed a poorly directed grubber early in the game, which rebounded (he kicked it far too hard and led to the Lappies Labuschagne try. Lambie's try was a gem, slicing through some poor defence to go over under the poles. His tackling was as fearless as ever. (Morne Steyn please note). Botes was all over the place and his try was a beauty.

Cheetahs supporters gave a huge cheer when Goosen came on but he was given little opportunity to influence the outcome. His skills are speed and a huge boot. But he continues to commit the inexcusable error of running towards the first centre to pass. What a pleasure for the cover defence!

Sadie who was determined throughout was rewarded with a fine try late in the game. But the Sharks sustained attack saw Williams go over to put the final nail in the visitors' coffin. The match ended with the teams scoring three tries apiece so the game was closer than the final score suggests.

I thought Hugh Bladen's commentary was well-balanced and Joel Stransky's analysis shrewd and astute. I was amused when there was a minor fracas and Joel said, 'Someone always has to have the last push. It's a boy-thing.'

Commentators continue to parrot the aggregate points of place-kickers; a meaningless exercise for anyone with half a brain. Please give viewers the credit of wanting to know how many of those points were scored from the touchline, dead in front, under pressure or without.

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I do enjoy Neil’s comment – can’t we dislodge Naas or Mallett, or bring in another chair!?

“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”

Interesting quote as we see so much kicking, especially ‘over kicking’ where the catcher has plenty of time to negotiate. Man and ball kicks are better, in my humble opinion as they often generate some activity. I am not sure where defending fits the quote as disciplined and committed defence is very much a crucial factor in today’s games.

Anyway, these are observations from a relatively naive rugby analyst.

Which games fall in the orbit of this blog? Only National and International when SA is playing?

Peter Stewart

I agree largely with your assessment of the games and feel the Sharks have a lot to do for a win this week. They seem to lack the ability to maintain consistent pressure and they don’t finish as well as they should – although this aspect is a lot better than in years past. I have a very good feeling about next season given the strength of their player pool and the back up structure and I hope Jake will take them away from seeking contact and rather seeking space where they can maximize the running and back up skills they have. Imagine the Sharks on the front foot!

I was interested in the relative merits of the fly halves on show – all good 100% players with good basic skills and they all tackle! Not something common in the good ‘ol days!!

Jantjies I think has reached his ceiling and although capable of moments of brilliance and will almost always do well at Lions level, does not have the finesse (confidence ??) for the higher level.

Catrakilis, is a better player especially under pressure and I think has more time and controls the game better than Jantjies, but this week we saw him run quite a bit more than previously and I don’t think he has anything special to offer in that dept….. he is still growing and could prove me wrong in time.

Lambie has all the skills a good fly half needs and, this season, lacked only match time to develop to his full potential. He has seldom had the luxury of playing in one position for long or with a running or stable backline outside himself and invariably has to carry the line with all its’ attendent pressure. The one big question mark I have is his lack of speed, especially off the mark. Ok, but not great and with a little more speed he would ghost through even more gaps than he does. His class is obvious but until he gets an extended run at fly half with a stable backline and a season a little longer than 10 minutes we will never know just how good he is. I fear another Brent Russell situation and his versatility may be his downfall.

Goosen – to me he shows the best promise of all with all the skills, speed and size. I thought when he got the ball on Sat things could happen. He is very rusty and cannot be judged on half a game and if anything shows a tendency to do too much – hence forcing the game and running toward his centres – and he needs to just let it happen. But his biggest problem is the threat of injury after two big ones in quick succession – can he play a whole season – can he stay away from the physical contact – can he develop the patience ???

What will we do on Saturdays after this weekend ?

Kingsley Went

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