Super Rugby Preview – Sharks vs BrumbiesAuthor: Nick | Filed under: Match Previews, Super Rugby
Match Date: Saturday 16th March
It’s hard to believe but we will only be witnessing 6 matches of Super Rugby this weekend and with 3 of them taking place on Friday, that leaves very little opportunity for the working class man to get his fix! Fortunately, the final match of the round promises to be a humdinger of a showdown between the table topping Brumbies and the men from the sunshine state, the Sharks. Conditions are currently set to perfect on the weather dial so lets hope it stays that way for what should be an all out attacking match from both sides.
The Sharks are currently sitting pretty (courtesy of some ugly wins) in 3rd place on the log and will be looking to capitalise on some home ground advantage this weekend. The backline is loaded with Fantasy gold –
Charl McLeod, Pat Lambie, Paul Jordaan, JP Petersen, Odwa Ndungane and Lwazi Mvovo on the bench! It’s a pity then that they have failed to cash in on their hefty gold reserve – the Sharks have thus far been guided to 3rd place on the log primarily from the steadfast boot of poster boy, Pat Lambie. The flyhalf has been relishing the time given to him at number 10 (as well as the service from Cobus Reinach who has also been benched in favour of Charl McLeod) but has not been able to string together any sort of real fluidity as yet.
Francois Steyn is certainly doing what he does best – reducing defensive structures to tatters but he hasn’t exactly returned to his former best as yet and appears to have substituted fleet footedness for fridge-like bulk which isn’t always a good career choice. The Sharks have been able to dominate in the scrums thus far thanks to pushing power of Springbok props Beast Mtawarira and Jannie “The Doctor” Du Plessis and they have been able to fare reasonably well in the lineouts thanks to the northern import, Franco Van Der Merwe and the most impressive mullet, Anton Bresler, but one of their traditional key strengths is under pressure.
The loose forward department currently resembles the casualty ward after a Prodigy concert and the Sharks appear to missing the prodigious bulk of Willem Alberts and will now be facing up without the other human wrecking ball, Jean Deysel. One just needs to consider how the Sharks lost a bit of momentum in the loose once Deysel had to leave the field against the Kings to see what we’re talking about. Additionally, the Sharks have also lost their loose forward stalwart, Jacques Botes but fortunately they are in the position to welcome back their livewire captain, Keegan Daniel! The Sharks will certainly draw inspiration from the guy who never says die. Ultimately, the Sharks have got the depth they need to stay in the top 6 but they need to make better use of the assets at their disposal otherwise they are going to die wondering.
The table topping Brumbies are in town and they will be looking to breeze in and out of SA with maximum points! The Brumbies cleaned house last weekend against the woeful Tahs and are operating like a finely tuned machine, you can rest assured the The Magician will also have a couple of aces up his sleeve for this leg of the competition because if there is one guy who knows SA Rugby then it is Jake White.
On the downside for the visitors, they will be without the services of rugby thievery expert, David Pocock who has done himself some serious damage and will spend the majority of the season chilling in the stands. However, teams lining up against the opposition should be far more concerned about shutting down the highly effective Brumbies backline – Nic White (2 assists), Robbie Coleman (2 tries), Clyde Rattlebones (1 try & 1 assist) and last but not least, that freakishly gangly fullback Jesse Mogg (3 tries & 2 assists). Anyone who has more than 3 brain cells will know full well that if you kick away possession to slim shady in the number 15 jersey that he is going to cause problems for you!
The Brumbies also have an effective man running around with the word “Captain” next to his name in the giant frame of Ben
Throwing Samoan Sewing Rowing Mowen who is no stranger to the tryline having collected 2 tries and 1 assist. In fact, everywhere you look in this team you see danger and the Sharks should go into the match with the notion that no ball for the Brumbies equals a good game plan!
The Brumbies have also been blessed in the flyhalf position this year with Christian Lealiifano and Matt Toomua both at 100% as opposed to last year where the magician was forced to play anyone he could find in the number 10 jersey. Lastly, the Brumbies also welcomed back Henry Speight last weekend who is yet another Fantasy stalwart – he felt it appropriate to announce his return with a try and we’re pretty sure he’ll be searching for more! It’s easy to see why the Brumbies are sitting at number 1 – they have strength in all the key positions and they’re not shy in the backup pool either, they’re the complete team and they are dancing to the tune of one of the best rugby coaches in the world.
It’s dead square - 16 played with 8 wins each! However, and this is of concern for Brumbies fans – 7 matches in the Shark tank and only 1 win back in 2007. The Brumbies hold the average points advantage at 25-23 and the better try average at 3 to 2 but beyond that, these 2 teams traditionally have tight matches.
Simple really…SHARKS to skin the Brumbies! We’re going with history here, a very strong homeground advantage for the Black & White but the match is going to be an arm wrestle.
Tighter than month end deadlines, 3 points.
The bookies are backing the home team and have given the Brumbies a 4.5 point headstart.
The Sharks are the favourites at 27/50 while the Brumbies are at 6/4 for the away win.
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