Well that’s a pretty disappointing start, isn’t it?
A moment of magic sparked by Paul Jordaan in the 72nd minute of that dull arm wrestle in Tshwane.
And that’s pretty much it as far as bothering the tryline has gone for the Sharks in 2012. Its been pretty moribund stuff really. Not poor, but certainly uninspired. And this is a team whose midfield was expected to be an improvement on a 2011 pair which went by the unofficial nicknames of “Oupa” and “Turnstile”.
To be fair, the Sharks have fielded two different combos in their two matches thus far, with newcomer to centre JP Pietersen being the only constant. That said, for a franchise with a history of enterprising play this is dismal stuff. And if we are being honest, it’s not like the Sharks have consistently lived up to that reputation the last few years.
The problem is that it’s not for lack of opportunity or quality. The Sharks have had one of the better packs and loose trios over the past years. They haven’t been short of talent in the half back and backline positions either, but something has always been missing. A certain cohesion like the Bulls have mastered, or a brave derring-do spirit like the Cheetahs have.
Too often you get to the end of a Sharks match feeling like they got by on the sheer force of talent and experience rather than any actual game plan or tactical superiority. But that can only get you so far. The Bulls are known to use kicking accuracy and muscle upfront to gain good field position from which to put their opponents away, the Cheetahs literally attack from anywhere. Province/The Stormers have an unparalleled defensive cohesion and great strike runners for when they have the ball, the Sharks have many Springboks but no recognisable style or particular area of excellence.
That’s not the sort of culture that wins trophies at Super level.
The Sharks face John Mitchell’s Lions at home this weekend, a good an opportunity as any to get the backline clicking and work their way up in the field in dominant fashion. They would do well to make the most of it, before worries turn into serious concerns.