Five factors that could decide Sharks vs Stormers South African derby
The Sharks vs Stormers Super Rugby showdown will have a number of factors that could influence the outcome of this table-topping fixture.
Here are five of them.
Sharks coach Sean Everitt has consistently maintained that their scrum remains a work in progress. He’s right.
They’ve made fewer mistakes each game but the Stormers pack is probably the benchmark for the South African teams.
That said‚ the scrum has been the only thing that’s worked consistently for the Stormers. With the confidence the Sharks have‚ they look like a team who could live with a hobbling pack. The same can’t be said of the Stormers.
When the Sharks lineout has gone wrong‚ they don’t win. That was the case against the Highlanders. When they’ve got it right‚ they’ve been excellent.
Their biggest area of improvement has been the maul. It was used sparingly‚ but to chilling effect against the Reds and Jaguares.
The Stormers have been reliant on the lineout as a turnover base‚ but it hasn’t worked as an attacking platform.
The team that uses the lineout and the maul smartly will probably be the winners.
The Sharks have had issues with referees‚ but because they’ve been winning‚ they’ve been able to put them on the back burner.
The Stormers have done well to win four from five games‚ but they haven’t played well enough to justify complaints about officiating.
That said; officiating in the tournament has been woeful and AJ Jacobs isn’t exactly the best refereeing cab out of the rank.
The Sharks have already experienced Jacobs’ fluctuating officiating against the Rebels last month where they had two players who were yellow-carded.
They still won that game comfortably though.
The Stormers have prided themselves on their defence‚ so it comes as no surprise that they’ve got the best defensive record with only eight tries conceded.
It’s come at the expense of their attack with only 14 tries from five games. There are teams with worse returns‚ but it’s a damning indictment of their shallowness in attack considering the pool of talent at their disposal.
The Sharks would be happy if their defence would improve‚ but they’ve been scoring tries and been winning.
However‚ in the one South African Super Rugby derby where their defence was asked questions by the Bulls‚ they passed with flying colours with no tries conceded.
5) Joy factor
That’s probably the only thing the Stormers have brought to SA derbies. They tried to be entertaining against the Bulls‚ but the occasion of the North/South Derby neutered that.
They happily went toe-to-toe with the Lions in conditions that allowed for running rugby. There are signs of life when the Stormers decide to play while the Sharks have enjoyed their rugby without being reckless. Games between these teams have been devoid of excitement‚ but high on tension.
This closely fought coastal derby hasn’t had games to be remembered recently‚ but SA derbies need to be crowd pullers and not just because of the historical factors.