Stormers vs Sharks: Super Rugby live scores, blog
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The Sharks travel from Brisbane to Cape Town to play the Stormers in the semi finals of Super Rugby this week. Join us from 1.00am AEST tonight for commentary, live scores and comments galore.
This match feels like it could be one of the most brutal, aggressive matches in some time. Both sides have titanic forward packs.
Stormers players Rynhardt Elstadt, Siya Kolisi, Andries Bekker, Eben Etzebeth and Brok Harris have made forward progress neigh on impossible for opposition teams throughout this year.
However Sharks players like Marcell Coetzee, Keegan Daniel, Wilhelm Alberts, Ryan Kankowski and Tendai Mtawarira aren’t likely to take a backward step. Indeed, against the Reds last week they spent the first 20 minutes beating their opponents into submission, effectively stunning them out of the contest.
It’s not quite Frasier-Ali, but haymakers will be thrown during this match. Make no mistake about that.
When these two sides last met the Sharks got the job done, but that was at Durban, not away.
To make the task just a little harder while the Sharks were throwing haymakers thousands of kilometres away from Cape Town last week. The Stormers, meanwhile, were on a tapered bye week and were only just starting to build into the real training they would have put in this week. That will be a real factor.
A lot of time was dedicated to praising the swift ball movement of the Sharks against the Reds. Their counter-attack was decisive and put them in the driver’s seat early on.
However, the platform for their match was ability to win the ruck contest with fewer players on attack and defence. This left players wide to tackle aggressively and move the ball through the hands if there was a turnover.
Only on a few occasions did they attack wide off the first few phases in their own possession. It was solid, fast running in the forwards and the precise pass selection of Charl McLeod that put them on the front foot in that facet of the game.
Once that was achieved Frederic Michalak and his teammates out wide found more space than they would have been used to.
Michalak lined up a drop goal and slotted it with more space than I remember in that situation, ever. He wasn’t standing in the pocket, he was flat and wide ready to unleash the backs. Such was the Sharks momentum he wasn’t remotely challenged.
We can expect the template to be similar this week against the Stormers.
On the other side, the home side are the Stormers. Their game-play this year has been criticised for not being attacking enough at times.
However, their rigidity and structure is actually an asset this week. To counter the aggression of the Sharks the Stormers need to play with the same kind of flex-but-don’t-break that earned them the top spot in their conference.
With the ball in hand, the Stormers will run forwards on deep lines and invariably reach the gain line with support on hand to push them further.
It is getting the ball to Joe Pietersen, Gio Aplon and Bryan Habana in space at the right times that will determine whether they can out flank the Sharks when needed.
Duane Vermeulen is going to be missing for the Stormers, but he will be replaced by Deon Fourie who brings considerable spark around the park. The Sharks will still be missing Pat Lambie at the back and Frans Steyn in the midfield this week as well.
Everything is well balanced for a fantastic game of rugby. Don’t forget to jump online in South Africa, or in late hours in Australasia.
I’ll be here updating and commenting, scores will be updated and we’ll see how this battle turns out.
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