Sharks vs Stormers match preview for today 5.10pm kick off

This week it has been something of a mutual admiration society between the coaches of the Sharks and Stormers but nobody is under any illusion that it will be all-out war at Newlands come 5.15pm this evening.

In the best traditions of derbies between the sides, Gary Gold and Robbie Fleck have been talking up the opposition while behind closed doors the teams are preparing to rip each other’s heads off.

The bookies have the unbeaten Stormers as favourites, mostly by virtue of being at home and that their combinations are better known while a number of Sharks are still finding their feet in Super Rugby.

The bookies are probably spot on. The Stormers were emphatic in beating the Bulls at Newlands in round one and showed character to outmuscle the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein while the Sharks struggled to subdue the Kings in the first half of their round-one match but then showed admirable courage in seeing off the Jaguares in Durban last week.

“We have a lot of respect for a Stormers team that is probably a few years ahead of us in terms of progression and continuity from (outgoing coach) Alistair Coetzee to (his long-time assistant) Robbie Fleck. They are a tight unit and we will show them the respect they reserve by the urgency with which we will play. We are not just going to pitch up in Cape Town and see how it goes …!”

The Sharks are in a good place, psychologically-speaking. They know they are not world beaters just yet but have taken confidence out of their wins over Toulon, Toulouse, the Kings and the Jaguares. The Argentineans did not score a point in the second half at Kings Park because of tenacious defence from the home side.

“We are making incremental progress and recognise that what has gone before this season for us will not be good enough against the Stormers, who will pose very tough questions at a packed Newlands,” Gold said.

“Fleckie is taking their game to a new level,” Gold continued. “He has had his own influence on how he would like to see things done. He has taken the strengths built by Allistair, the set pieces and defence, and added his attacking mindset to that foundation. We hear from guys in their squad that they are very happy under Fleckie and as a South African I am ecstatic that the Stormers went that route. Fleckie is a very smart guy and certainly did his apprenticeship. He was a great Springbok player and then an assistant coach for six years. I am very happy for him and for SA rugby that he has been recognised and I think he is doing an outstanding job.”

Fleck, in turn, has heaped praise on the Sharks, in particular their vastly improved defence following last season’s pitiful effort in this regard. They conceded a whopping 43 tries, and in the off-season recruited defence guru Omar Mouneimne.

“We know Omar from the time he spent coaching at the Stormers between 2008 and 2010, he’s a very good defence coach and you can see a big difference in the Sharks’ defensive system,” Fleck said.

“The Sharks are looking good, and appear to be a well-rounded side. There are some clear changes from last season, they’re very organised defensively and have a well-balanced kicking game, with good kickers in Joe Pietersen and Willie le Roux. But I also think they’re looking to keep the ball in hand a bit more. We’re actually two quite similar teams.”

Pietersen has been a steady influence at 10 in taking over from injured Patrick Lambie and his experience has been preferred to the flair of youngster Garth April. Fleck knows Pietersen inside out having coached him when he was the Stormers’ fullback for a number of seasons.

“Joe’s a really good rugby player, and when he has time on the ball he can be very dangerous. He generally makes good decisions, so we can’t just let him have it all his own way, we have to put him under a bit of pressure. He’s a point-scoring machine, and he’s got a nice flow into the Sharks’ attack and he’s running things smoothly. I like the way the Sharks are playing, they’ve got some big strong backs and a mobile pack.”

So it is pats on the back all round from the respective coaches but the phoney war is just about at and end and this evening’s game will not be for the faint at heart.

Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)

Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Juan de Jongh (co-captain), 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe (co-captain), 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.

Substitutes: Scarra Ntubeni, Oli Kebble, Vincent Koch, JD Schickerling, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Nic Groom, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Huw Jones.

Sharks: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Beast Mtawarira (capt).

Substitutes: Kyle Cooper, Juan Schoeman, Lourens Adriaanse, Hyron Andrews, Philip van der Walt, Michael Claassens, Garth April, S’bura Sithole.

By Mike Greenaway

ENDS

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Sharks with twins Daniel and Jean-Luc,test are at Newlands this Saturday

The Du Preez twins, Daniel and Jean-Luc, have been picking up Man of the Match awards with eyebrow-raising regularity this season ( including the pre-season tour to France) thus precluding their no doubt proud Dad from being involved in selection issues just yet in his portfolio as Sharks attack coach.

But Robert du Preez senior knows that there can be no such thing as family ties when it comes to selection issues that will inevitably crop up down the line. Du Preez, a Springbok that first started out at Western Transvaal in the Currie Cup B section way back in 1982 and – via a distinguished period at the Bulls partnering Naas Botha in the heyday of both players – finished an impressive career at Natal in 1998.

Du Preez subsequently went into the business world and was a major achiever in marketing Mr Price, who for some time were the anchor sponsors of the Sharks.

“It is a professional environment and I have to behave accordingly, and so do my sons,” Du Preez said. “I had good advice from Ian McIntosh (who was coach of the Sharks when his son, Craig, played a few games for the province). You have to make rugby decisions and make sure you don’t go out of your way to be tough on your kids (while obviously not favouring them). You must see it as business as usual.”

This week Du Preez has been spared a confrontation between his twin sons, who are currently featuring in the Sharks’ loose trio, and their elder brother Robert, who would have started at Newlands on Saturday against the Sharks had he not been injured against the Cheetahs last week. The 22-year-old Robert Jnr (the twins are 20) has a potentially serious knee ligament injury.

It is going to be a massive test for a Sharks team that has thus far beaten second-string French sides in Toulon and Toulouse, thumped the hapless Kings and then ground out a character-building win over a very tough Jaguares team in Durban at the weekend.

The Stormers away will ask a new set of questions of a Sharks side that is rich in potential but, by Du Preez’s admission, still has searching examinations ahead of them.

“The Stormers are going to be very difficult in Cape Town,” he said. “They are similar to us in how they want to play. Already their forward pack is commanding a lot of respect and we are under no illusion as to the challenge in front of us but we are a confident bunch and we will give it our best shot.”

The Stormers are indeed without Robert Jnr at flyhalf but they have one of the best second-row pairings in the world in the former Shark Pieter-Steph du Toit and Eben Etzebeth, the Man of the Match in his team’s win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

“We are a work in progress but we like to think we are getting better as the season progresses and it has definitely boosted our morale to have won four out of four,” Du Preez said. “The confidence in how we want to play is growing. We won’t hold back on Saturday.”

Du Preez reckons the Sharks have the ideal balance this year between youth and experience.

“Gary Gold and the management are creating something special and there is a nice spirit in the camp,” Du Preez said. “This last week against the Jaguares was obviously very difficult with ball in hand because it was very slippery, which is what you get in Durban at this time of the year. Our intent was there but we coughed up too many balls. We created a number of opportunities but should have converted more and that has got to improve if we are to beat the Stormers.”

by Mike Greenaway

DROTSKE LAYS INTO OFFCIALS

DROTSKE LAYS INTO OFFCIALS

It wasn’t pretty but the outcome of the Battle of Bloemfontein was a handsome one for a Sharks team that returned home yesterday with four priceless Super Rugby points in the bag, no injuries from a very tough encounter and just one win away from qualifying for the play-offs.

The way the overall log is shaping up, if the Sharks beat the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday they should be safe and could afford to drop their last match, against the Bulls in Pretoria.

But it was hardly looking rosy for the Durbanites in the first half at the Free State Stadium when they struggled behind the gain line.

“There were words said at half-time, sure, but Smitty was the aggressive one and I was the good cop for a change,” smiled coach John Plumtree. “And yes, the second half was much better than the first as we upped our intensity and played more intelligently. In the first half we played too much in our own half and did not control possession, and when they turned us over we were often close to our line. We have to look at that.”

Plumtree applauded the courageous effort of his players on defence, especially in looking after the big Cheetahs ball carriers, but his opposite number, Naka Drotske, reckons the Sharks were over-zealous in the process.

The none-too-amused coach said: “I wasn’t happy with at least four off-the ball incidents. Take Ashley Johnson for example, after he passed the ball he was hit with shoulder charges on a few occasions. It is unacceptable that three officials could not pick that up, whereas (Cheetahs wing) Ryno Benjamin a few weeks ago was suspended for an alleged head-butt (on the Rebels’ Stirling Mortlock) for which there was no video evidence.”

Drotske then singled out an alleged offence by Stefan Terblanche as being a turning point in the match.

“We were in front of their poles on attack when Stefan, who was standing next to the loose scrum smacked the ball down with us having a four on three advantage out wide. It would have been a definite try but all we got was a scrum. It was cynical and a yellow card, so luck was not on our side and nor were the decisions.”

But despite his salvo at the Sharks, Drotske said they could be a surprise package if they indeed make it to the play-offs.

“The way the Sharks play, that very physical approach, suits knock-out rugby. They will have a good chance of advancing because their games suits pressure rugby. And they have the players to beat any team on any given day,” the former Springbok hooker said.

The Sharks were indeed punished towards the end of the game for their professional fouls, with Charl McLeod and Keegan Daniel being yellow-carded. Plumtree said he was not overly concerned about the cards.

“It was pretty frantic on defence for us in those final minutes. I am pleased with way the guys hung in and fought,” he said. “Our discipline has been good this year. We had previously had only two yellow cards, so doubling it with only two rounds to go is not too bad.

“And we have been good on defence all year (third best in the competition), and in this match we had to scramble a lot to keep that record,” Plumtree continued. “One moment we would be attacking and the next on our line putting in big hits. That showed a lot of character and courage.”

by Mike Greenaway

Crusaders team to play the Stormers on Saturday 7th May

Crusaders Franchise
P O Box 755
Christchurch
Phone +64 (3) 379 8300
Fax +64 (3) 365 3565

May 4th, 2011

Team Release – Crusaders versus Stormers

The Crusaders team to play the Stormers at 5.05pm on Saturday 7th May at

Newlands Stadium, Cape Town is as follows:

1. Wyatt Crockett

2. Corey Flynn

3. Owen Franks

4. Luke Romano

5. Chris Jack

6. George Whitelock

7. Richie McCaw (Capt)

8. Kieran Read

9. Kahn Fotuali’i

10. Mat Berquist

11. Zac Guildford

12. Sonnybill Williams

13. Robbie Fruean

14. Sean Maitland

15. Israel Dagg

16. Quentin MacDonald

17. Andrew Olorenshaw

18. Joe Wheeler

19. Matt Todd

20. Willi Heinz

21. Adam Whitelock

22. Tom Marshall

For any further information please call Crusaders media manager Patrick
McKendry on 021 224 7480 or email Patrick.mckendry

Team Release Stormers 11.doc

Sharks game against Stormers will be World War 3

THE Sharks this week enter a massively important three-match period that is sandwiched between their two mandatory byes, with two home games that simply have to be won and an away match against the Stormers which will be World War III.

This week it is the Hurricanes at Kings Park, then the retribution encounter in Cape Town before the Sharks entertain the Brumbies, and then go into their second bye week.

That is the way the cookie has crumbled for the Sharks in terms of their draw – eight games on the trot; a bye; three games; a second bye and then a five-game finishing flourish. It is by no means a bad draw but it is absolutely crucial for the Sharks to harvest as many as possible of the 15 points on offer in this short three-match, between-byes period.

First up is a Hurricanes team that have been a big disappointment for the Kiwi capital city of Wellington. The traditionally freewheeling Canes have not yet settled under the rigid organisation of dyed-in-the-wool Crusaders man Mark Hammett, although they will be hoping that their tour opening win in Bloemfontein at the weekend is a turning point. The Hurricanes’ team culture is a world apart from the Crusaders but when they get on song, they can Cane anybody, the Cantabrians included.

The Wellingtonians come to Kings Park having beaten the Cheetahs in the last movement of their match in the Free State capital at the weekend. It was 50-47 to the visitors – that is three points short of a ton to state the obvious, and approximating a Super Rugby disgrace in terms of defence.

The Cheetahs’ backline, to be frank, tackled like a bunch of girls, in the overall analysis. They were generally pathetic in their first-time tackling and their team paid the price in the end, and their coaching staff had every right to feel aggrieved. No wonder Naka Drotske was pounding the desk in the coach’s box. The Cheetahs missed 19 tackles and the Canes scored six tries. Enough said.

The Sharks will have taken notice of the obvious – allow the Hurricanes’ athletes to break the first line of defence and you more than likely will be having a chat behind your posts.

*** Sharks’ remaining fixtures

April 23 v Hurricanes (H)

April 30 v Stormers (A)

May 7 v Brumbies (H)

Bye

May 21 v Bulls (H)

May 28 v Waratahs (H)

June 4 v Cheetahs (A)

June 11 v Lions (A)

June 18 v Bulls (A)

There were no excuses from the Sharks camp on Saturday night

MIKE GREENAWAY

There were no excuses from the Sharks camp on Saturday night following their 16-6 home defeat to the Stormers, and fair enough because the visitors had the upper hand throughout and the jaded Durbanites looked half asleep at times.

“We were a couple of percent off the pace pretty much in every area of the game,” coach John Plumtree admitted.

While there is still a long way to go in the competition – only seven of 18 weeks have been completed, with the knock-out stage to follow – the reality for the Sharks is that they have slipped to third on the SA Conference, one point below the Bulls and eight behind the Stormers, and eighth in the overall standings.

This won’t overly bother Plumtree because things can change very quickly. For instance, the Stormers have yet to travel and the Bulls are only into week one of their tour, and the Stormers and Bulls’ points tallies are inflated by the four-point freebies from their byes, not that the Sharks won’t gladly help themselves when it is their turn next week, after Saturday’s hosting of the Lions.

And after the bye the Sharks welcome back injured Patrick Lambie, whose absence has been conspicuous, although it is unfair to be too critical on how Jacques-Louis Potgieter is fitting in when he has had just two outings.

Regarding the Sharks’ performance against the Stormers, Plumtree said: “In the first half we played into their hands from an attack perspective in that there were times when we should have kicked to relieve pressure but we kept on playing.

“Our handling in contact let us down at times and our lineout didn’t function when it really needed to. We were a little worried about that area, and under pressure we were a bit naïve at times,” he said.

The match statistics bear out the coach’s words. The Sharks made 20 handling errors and lost five of their line-outs. It is going to be tough to beat a team of the Stormers’ calibre from that shaky foundation.

Was travel tiredness the problem?

“We said we weren’t going to use the travel as an excuse,” Pluntree said. “We were committed to that and we knew this game was probably going to be the hardest for us, but we rested up and the players caught up on their sleep. I don’t think we were particularly tired in the match. There was plenty of effort put in but the 50-50s just didn’t go our way, whether it was the ball on the ground or a referee decision or two. It was just a tough night for us against a really good side.”

When it started raining going into the second half the Sharks were 10-0 behind and struggled to play catch-up in the deteriorating conditions.

“Chasing the game against a really good defensive side was always going to be difficult,” the coach said. “They could afford to kick a bit more in the second half, and we needed to be slightly more positive in terms of our attack but we just weren’t accurate enough. We broke the line four or five times clearly and we had people in space and we didn’t cash in. It was just that one or two percent we were off, and we paid for that.”

by Mike Greenaway www.iol.co.za

rugby sharks v Stormers match report

SHARKS (6) 6
STORMERS (13) 16

by MIKE GREENAWAY AT KINGS PARK

THE super-charged Stormers rendered the Sharks positively leaden-footen in their unfortunate homecoming to the Shark Tank yesterday and the four log points the visitors banked will render inconsequential the debate as to whether the home side were stricken by their recent heavy travel regime or simply beaten by a superior side.
Probably a bit of both would be the answer but, however you look at it, the visitors controlled proceeding from first to last whistle and the handsome phase play that saw the Sharks rattle the Crusaders in London the week before vanished into the evening Durban drizzle.
Instead, the Sharks’ attacks were limited to sporadic breakouts from deep in their half, with almost nothing constructed by the relentless phases play that stressed the opposition defence in the Sharks’ opening four-match winning sequence.
Given that the set-piece battle ended up pretty much fair and square, it was at ruck time that the Stormers won the battles and ultimately the war.
This was their principal failing in the Currie Cup final last year, and indeed the previous five Super Rugby matches that they had lost against the Sharks, and it meant they ran onto the ball last night and built momentum while the Sharks, especially in the first half, were regularly tackled well behind the advantage line.
Well, the Stormers emphatically ended that losing streak to the Durbanites, in so doing consolidating their position at the top of the South African conference and indeed the overall standings while condemning the Sharks to their third loss on the trot.
Two of those were on a four-country road trip that saw the Sharks nevertheless come home with 12 points from a possible 20, but that does not take the sting out of the failure of the Sharks to achieve their much wanted two victories from their fortnight of home matches against the Stormers and the Lions (this week) before their much anticipated bye.
Last week, coach John Plumtree cancelled a training session because five players had the flu (travel-induced) but this competition does not excuse such trivialities and the bottom line is that the Sharks were thoroughly out-played.
The first 20 minutes unfolded almost exclusively in the Sharks’ half, and as early as the third minute Jannie du Plessis was penalised at a set scrum and former Maritzburg College pupil Peter Grant continued his excellent competition goal-kicking form to give the Stormers an ideal start.
The Sharks were looking to keep the ball in hand, as they did so impressively in the second last week against the Crusaders, which ultimately saw the Kiwis making a total of 60 more tackles than the Sharks, but against the Stormers’ defence and forward resolve, the Sharks’ game had no zip.
In the 11th minute prop Stormers prop Brok Harris was penalised for not rolling away and Jacques-Louis Potgieter equalised but this was undone from the restart when Jaque Fourie capitalised on a wayward Charl Mcleod pass and after the Springbok centre had made serious inroads into the Sharks 22, quick ruck ball saw Schalk Burger in for an easy run to the line.
The Sharks fought hard to get into the game and the middle part of the first half saw them get into the Stormers’ half for a meaningful period only for it to come to an unfortunate result when a Stormers breakout resulted in a close-range penalty for the unfailing Grant to convert into a 13-3 lead eight minutes before the break.

Potgieter should have pulled back three points when he pushed a sitter onto the right-hand up-right, to compound an earlier miss, but he did strike a long-range beauty two minutes before half time.
The second half disintegrated into a war of attrition, with the Sharks valiantly but unsuccessfully trying to establish rhythm, but the Stormers’ stranglehold was never going to be beaten, and the only points of the half was Grant’s third penalty.

Scorers

Sharks: Penalties; Jacque-Louis Potgieter (2)

Stormers: Try: Schalk Burger. Conversion: Peter Grant. Penalties: Grant (3).

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