Can Sharks stay ahead of the pack?

Tue, 08 Apr 2014 10:24
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The Sharks have had it all their way so far, with a string of home games and byes coming at the right times, but it's now up to them to make it count.

The Sharks have had it all their way so far, with a string of home games and byes coming at the right times, but it's now up to them to make it count.
 
Jake White's team has enjoyed early success this season winning five from six games and sitting atop the table with a game in hand over half the competition.
 
Despite not playing on the weekend, a combination of other results as well as the log points they’ve picked up meant they stayed top of the standings. 
 
But the World Cup-winning coach knows that sitting pretty on the log for the majority of the season will mean nothing if they are not the ones to lift the trophy.
 
Things get tougher for the Sharks after this bye, they face a faltering Lions team at Ellis Park that will be hungry for a win after going down 7-28 to the Crusaders. 
 
The Sharks' only loss so far was against the Bulls in Round Six, as well as being the Durban team's only away game so far. 
 
It has become a bit of a trait of White's teams in the past to be undefeatable at home but to show cracks when on the road, one needs only look back to the 2004 Tri-Nations as well as the Brumbies season last year.
 
But having had the break White believes his charges are feeling physically and mentally fresh.
 
“The most important aspect is the mental break the bye gave us," White said.
 
"This tournament takes its toll and more so what’s coming. We have eight weeks before our next break. 
 
"Mentally, it was a good break for us and we all knew that mentally we had to take some time out because we’re going to be under pressure in the next two months.”
 
White is clearly pleased with his start but knows they will have to keep up the intensity for a long period of time if they are to stay ahead of the chasing pack.
 
"Now the hard yards start, we have eight weeks in a row," he said.
 
"We saw the Stormers coming back from tour losing to the Waratahs. We have to come back and play the Stormers in our last weekend [before the June break] after touring. And we know they’re a good side.”
 
With a game in hand they now have the opportunity over the next two months – a testing period indeed – to really take control on the log if they get the results they desire.
 
“We were in a great position going into the bye week, even though we weren’t playing, we would still manage to remain on top of the log. 
 
"But I’ve said it a number of times, it’s not where you are on the log during the season but where you end up at the conclusion of the season.
 
“Our destiny is in our hands, we have eight weeks ahead of us and in those eight weeks we can really stake a claim for the title. That’s why it was good to get away and refocus on what’s coming,” White concluded.
 
There is good news on the injury front as Paul Jordaan comes back into the reckoning for this weekend’s match against the Lions, although White may not be too willing to tamper with the winning combination that dismantled the Waratahs fairly comprehensively in the last match before the bye.
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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Mon, 20 February 2017
CUT-Ixias v Shimlas 14h45 Bloemfontein
TUT v WSU 16h30 Pretoria
UWC v Rhodes 16h30 Cape Town
UKZN-Impi v Fort Hare 16h30 Durban
Maties v NMMU-Madibaz 16h30 Stellenbosch
NWU-Pukke v UCT-Ikeys 16h30 Potchefstroom
UJ v UP-Tuks 17h00 Johannesburg
Thu, 23 February 2017
Rebels v Blues 08h45 Melbourne
Fri, 24 February 2017
Highlanders v Chiefs 06h35 Dunedin
Reds v Sharks 09h00 Brisbane
Harlequins v Leicester Tigers 17h45 Twickenham Stoop
Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues 19h05 Myreside
Dragons v Leinster 19h30 Rodney Parade
Munster v Scarlets 19h35 Thomond Park
Sat, 25 February 2017
Sunwolves v Hurricanes 04h15 Tokyo
Crusaders v Brumbies 06h35 Christchurch
Waratahs v Force 08h45 Allianz Park
Saracens v Sale Sharks 12h45 Allianz Park
Northampton Saints v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Franklin's Gardens
Exeter Chiefs v Newcastle Falcons 13h00 Sandy Park
Cheetahs v Lions 13h05 Bloemfontein
Scotland v Wales 14h25 BT Murrayfield
Kings v Jaguares 15h15 Port Elizabeth
Ireland v France 16h50 Aviva Stadium
Stormers v Bulls 17h30 Cape Town
Sun, 26 February 2017
Bristol v Bath 11h00 Ashton Gate
Zebre v Ulster 12h30 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Treviso v Connacht 12h30 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Wasps v Gloucester 12h30 Ricoh Arena
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors 13h05 Liberty Stadium
England v Italy 15h00 Twickenham Stadium
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 15 10 0 5 43
Waratahs 15 8 0 7 40
Rebels 15 7 0 8 31
Reds 15 3 1 11 17
Force 15 2 0 13 13
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 15 11 0 4 53
Highlanders 15 11 0 4 52
Chiefs 15 11 0 4 51
Crusaders 15 11 0 4 50
Blues 15 8 1 6 39
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 15 10 1 4 51
Bulls 15 9 1 5 42
Cheetahs 15 4 0 11 21
Sunwolves 15 1 1 13 9
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 14 11 0 3 52
Sharks 15 9 1 5 43
Jaguares 14 3 0 11 18
Kings 15 2 0 13 9