The Sharks are back home again this weekend, and I am sure that’s a welcome relief after all their travelling. Three continents and three vastly different time zones in three weeks is a bit much for anyone. Nonetheless, they did the necessary business in Argentina and beat the Jaguares, keeping their playoff hopes alive and well.
Admittedly, it was not a pretty win. We knew it was going to be a tough game. The Jaguares are brutal, and let me just say it plainly, not the most sportsmanlike team you’ll ever encounter. Their questionable behaviour in the game has resulted in two bans for the men from Argentina, one for captain Agustin Creevy for his dangerous tackle on Jean Deysel (a one week ban) and the other for number 8, Leonardo Senatore, for biting Keegan Daniel (a 10 week ban). Jean Deysel is incredibly lucky not to have a serious injury after the way he landed on his neck and the sad thing is that the Jaguares have the skill to be a great team, so I really don’t know why they resort to these kind of tactics. The crowd is unbelievably hostile in Buenos Aires too, so it really can’t be a pleasant experience to play there as the opposition. Which brings me to another bone of contention regarding last weekend’s game. Neither of those incidents resulted in any action from referee, Marius van der Westhuizen. Indeed, his performance was woeful, including allowing a try by the Jaguares that even the TMO said was definitely not a try. I can only wonder, was he scared of the crowd? I actually just don’t understand what happened, and I’m definitely not one to blame the ref when things don’t go our way. Anyway, we came away from the game with a win and our defence once again held up well against a Jaguares team that were like battering rams in the second half. Kudos to Lambie for maintaining his composure throughout the game, and particularly for being able to kick the winning penalty in the final minute.
Onwards and upwards. This week we face the Kings on our home turf. They’re certainly the whipping boys of Super Rugby, and although they managed to beat the Sunwolves (arguably the other contenders for poorest team in the tournament), they have lost every other match, mostly in resounding fashion. The Sharks’ opening game of the season was against the Kings in PE, and they beat them by 35 points. One could argue that the Kings have improved since then, and if taken too lightly could shock the home team, but really, I just don’t see it happening. It may not be another 35 point margin after all the travelling the Sharks have been doing, but the men from Durban have improved dramatically since that opening round too, and I would be very surprised if the Kings even come close.
The Sharks side to face the Southern Kings on Saturday is:
15. Willie le Roux, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Pat Lambie (Captain), 9. Michael Claassens, 8. Daniel du Preez, 7. Jean-Luc du Preez, 6. Keegan Daniel, 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Etienne Oosthuizen, 3. Lourens Adriaanse, 2. Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1. Dale Chadwick
16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Juan Schoeman, 18. Thomas du Toit, 19. Giant Mtyanda, 20. Tera Mtembu, 21. Stefan Ungerer, 22. Garth April, 23. Odwa Ngungane
My SuperBru picks for round 13 are (all times shown are SA time):
Crusaders v Waratahs (20 May 09:35) Crusaders by 8
Reds v Sunwolves (21 May 07:05) Reds by 5
Chiefs v Rebels (21 May 09:35) Chiefs by 16
Force v Blues (21 May 11:45) Blues by 3
Lions v Jaguares (21 May 15:00) Lions by 15
Sharks v Kings (21 May 17:10) Sharks by 25
Bulls v Stormers (21 May 19:20) Stormers by 3