Now that the euphoria amongst Sharks fans has settled down, many are beginning too ponder how the Sharks team went from a commanding lead of 21 points after 50 minutes of rugby, to scrambling desperately to prevent the Cheetahs snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. By contrast Cheetahs fans are grimly searching for some positives to take out of the match. The following thoughts was posted on the Cheetahs Blog.
- Bear in mind that the Sharks played in the 2012 Super Rugby Final, and the Cheetahs ended 10th, well out of play-off contention.
- The Sharks did not lose much in terms of player personnel and have in fact been strengthened by the addition of Franco van der Merwe and Frans Steyn, whereas the Cheetahs lost several stalwarts like WP Nel, Ashley Johnson, George Earle, Izak van der Westhuizen, Marcel van der Merwe, Andries Strauss and Sias Ebersohn. The new players contracted are not necessarily as experienced, but more aimed at future development.
- Cheetahs were without their premier locks (Ferreira and Muller) and Heinrich Brüssow was still unavailable due to rehabilitation. The Sharks by contrast had arguably their best team, bar Willem Alberts and Keegan Daniel available.
- The Sharks could name 13 Boks in their match 22, versus the 4 Boks of the Cheetahs.
- That the Sharks team boasted 1 113 Super Rugby caps, versus the 521 Super Rugby caps of the Cheetahs.
- Six of the Cheetahs players have less than 10 Super Rugby caps.
- Nine of the Sharks team have more than 60 Super rugby caps, whereas only two Cheetahs players (Adriaan Strauss – 73 and Hennie Daniller – 68) have more than 60 Super rugby caps.
- Neither Springbok pivot Johan Goosen or Coenie Oosthuizen have had any rugby matches for at least 4 months.
- Despite having a dominant pack on the day and a star-studded backline, the Cheetahs outscored the Sharks 3 tries to two and their backline looking decidely more dangerous.
Against this background, the Cheetah supporters can take heart from the gritty fightback in the second half, which had the Sharks holding on for a win. Sharks fans can argue that their team took the foot off the pedal. Is that really a malady that a team aspiring to win the championship can acknowledge? A match is 80 minutes (minimum) long. Is taking your foot off the pedal really an excuse, especially against teams that always come back at you. Teams like the Hurricanes and Cheetahs?