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Thread: Match Report: Western Force vs Sharks

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    Match Report: Western Force vs Sharks

    Clinical Sharks crush courageous Force

    The KwaZulu Natal Sharks have continued their winning start to the 2011 Super rugby season with a 39-12 win over a courageous Western Force. Down to 14 men for 65 minutes, and finishing the game with only 13 players on the field, the Force fought on until the last second as they desperately tried to give the home crowd something to cheer about.

    The Sharks were leading the Western Force 19-9 at halftime after a drama first half of rugby at nib Stadium. The Force were looking good early with attacking fluency putting pressure on the Sharks. A 50 metre penalty to James O’Connor in the 7th minute opened the account for the Force. The story started to unravel from here, however, as Mitch Inman came off the field injured. Shortly after, a fumbled ball inside the Force’s 22 saw Odwa Ndungane go over for the first try. Lambie landed the conversion to give the Sharks a 7-3 lead. To add insult to injury, David Pocock came off the field; injured in winning a turnover from the Sharks.

    Things went from bad to worse as Rory Sidey received a red card for a spear-tackle that saw Ndungane stretched off the field. A 5 metre line-out from the resulting penalty saw the Sharks drive over and score another try through Bismarck du Plessis, Lambie converting to take the score 14-3. A shell-shocked Force outfit managed to get themselves back into the game with a pair of O’Connor penalties in the 25th and 27th minutes after some inspiring attacking play. The attack continued with the Force lifting the crowd by winning a line-out deep in the Sharks’ 22. The ball was regrettably lost forward by Nathan Sharpe, killing the attack. The Sharks managed to take back control in the final minutes, scoring a try in 34th minute and taking the score out to 19-9. O’Connor had a late attempt at goal but just missed.

    The second half started ominously for the Western Force with a penalty to Patrick Lambie soon followed by what was almost the 4th try of the match. Charl McLeod broke away down the field with support running down the touchline only he held off too long and his final pass was called forward. The Force forced themselves back into the game from this point, getting a much needed second wind. However sloppy play, knock-ons, poor kicking and some average set-pieces saw the Force squander multiple opportunities. Thankfully this was affecting both sides and the for the next 15 minutes the Force kept the ball in Sharks' territory. The game began to swing back the other way as the game came into the final 15 minutes. The Sharks heaped on masses of pressure deep inside the Force 22.

    Referee, Keith Brown, was soon to brandish the dreaded yellow after the Force conceded penalty after penalty and gifted the Sharks numerous 5 metres line-outs. Despite leaving nothing out in trying to contain the Sharks, Willem Alberts eventually crashed over to give the Sharks their bonus point. The final few minutes were all Lambie as he added a try, a conversion and a penalty to the conversion from the Alberts try. More woes were added to the Force as Nick Cummins was given a yellow for a late hit on Louis Ludik.

    The Force toiled away until the very end, but were yet again let down by poor handling as Nathan Sharpe knocked the ball forward as they mounted one last attack.

    The Good
    Just like in the Reds game, our defence was great and so was our work at the breakdown. To stay in the game for so long with a man in the bin against a quality side is a tremendous achievement. After some initial hiccups, our line-out was also fairly strong and we won as many as we lost. These were some definite positives to take out of the game.

    The Bad
    All of those positives were exactly the same as they were against the Reds. And all of the negatives are pretty much the same too. We didn’t score a single try despite many good chances. Again. We cannot rely on the boot of James O’Connor to win us games. Something must be done to minimize the handling errors and add a ruthless streak to our attack. Perhaps a game plan geared towards territory would better feed into our strengths.

    The scrum was also a concern from the game. While Richard Graham said that he was happy with the scrum, we were seriously out-pointed by the Sharks’ front row. They are among the best in the competition in this area; however we will face more of the same against the Blues. We performed well against the Reds in the scrum and I want to see more of the same.

    The Ugly
    The red card. Now I am not going to get into an argument over whether it was deserved or not, but regardless it did ruin the match (for Force supporters at least). What a contest it could have been if only the player had been brought down safely. What seemed to be a sell-out crowd were no doubt left with a disappointed feeling that can only be cured by belting the Blues next week. Let’s hope that Ndungane has no lasting injury.


    Man of the Match:
    Bismarck du Plessis was a deserved official man of the match. He formed a powerful front row with the Beast and his brother Jannie. The trio had the Force scrum under a lot of pressure and stifled a lot of our set-piece ball. His tackling was explosive and so was his ball running. He should consider himself pretty unlucky not to have bagged a second try coming into the final quarter. Willem Alberts also earned himself a mention. He put in some crushing hits, ones which Gene Fairbanks will still be feeling for days to come, toiled away at the breakdown and capped off some strong ball carries with a late try.

    While everyone out there from the Force showed a lot of heart, there were a few standouts. Nathan Sharpe led his team well and kept up morale exactly in the manner a captain should. His handling left a bit to be desired with a handful of knock-ons, however. Ben McCalman, Matt Hodgson and Richard Brown worked hard all night. But the real stand-out for the Western Force was Sam Wykes. Sam came on early in the first half for David Pocock and had his break out game. His ball carries were immense, he was a solid option in the line-out and he popped up everywhere. The contrast to his game against the Reds was considerable. If Pocock’s injury keeps him out for a while, Wykes showed that we will be in safe hands moving McCalman back into the backrow.

    Western Force Game Score:
    The early red card makes this one tough to judge; it was a pretty even contest up until that point. Generally, the Force played their hearts out and that commitment is worthy of praise. But equally, their inability to match commitment with execution weighs heavily against them. There were too many knock-ons to count. Too many poor passes or poor catches, or both. It seems in this regard they have learnt nothing since the Reds game. Admittedly they were under more pressure in this game, however we have scored one try in two games and that simply isn’t good enough. That we stayed in the game until the 70th minute is a credit to the team. I’m giving them a C for credit.

    Thoughts from the match:
    - Should a red card be given in a two man tackle? Yes, a dangerous tackle should be punished, but having the second player can unintentionally lose control of the tackle without malice intended. Incidentally, it seems that Ndungane’s injury isn’t that bad. Plumtree said it was believed to be concussion.

    - Should we be worried that to date we have only scored one breakaway try? Why can’t we get across the line? What should we do to fix this problem?

    - After the red card, why did we kick for penalties? It is near impossible to win a game when down by one man for 65 minutes. Why not go for tries in an attempt to get one or two bonus points as opposed to the nothing we ended up with?

    What do you think?


    Images by Carlos Taylor Photography

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    Last edited by James; 05-03-11 at 23:26.
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    Veteran zimeric's Avatar
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    bullshit red card, will be surprised if he gets sanctioned for it..
    bullshit yellow card for Cummins too..
    Ref missed a hell of a lot tonight.

    Brave Force though always tough playing 63 mins with 14 men and less

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    Senior Player theforceguy's Avatar
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    Sounds like it is a good thing that there is no foxsport in cervantes Who was the ref
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    Unhappy

    Well done to the Force for hanging in there.

    We're in trouble, though. Real test of depth now without Pocock and Inman.

    Mafi should start on the wing. Maybe give Cummins a go at centre.

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    Unhappy sharks game

    gutted.... that was not 80 min of entertainment.... Inman and Pocock looks sore, fingers crossed !!!

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    Unhappy

    I worry not only about the Force but about the Wallabies as well. I hope Pocock's injury doesn't keep him out for too long.

    Shades of last season.....

    How big was the crowd?

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    Last edited by BeeJay; 05-03-11 at 21:41.

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    Champion Contributor tragic's Avatar
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    Inman seemed to have a dislocated elbow (*shudder*)
    I hope Poey's OK

    It was impressive to see the Force keep at it up to the final whistle, but I don't think the ref Keith Brown will leave with many fans here. It was dreadful. I don't recall seeing the Shed like that during a rugby match (but this year we're closer to it).

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    Senior Player Timbo's Avatar
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    The only good judgement the ref showed all night was scuttling off the ground quick smart at the end!!

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    Senior Player Hoolly Doolly's Avatar
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    Ref was pedantic for the most part but not pedantic enuff when the sharks were offside around the fringes of the rucks.

    Anyone else notice the UFC headlock on pocock when his legs were pinned in the ruck? surprised he didnt have a broken neck or back to go along with the bung knee.

    wykes made some fumbles early but was instrumental in the comeback later. If theres any positive out of pococks injury its that wykes will get the gametime in the second row with sharpey......why sharpey isnt captain of the wallabies ill never understand.

    Mafi looked great when he came on and good to see smith get some touches. Great game by cummins as well.
    JOC and fairbanks doesnt look like theyre combining very well in attack...even caught them snarling at each other a couple times.....not good.

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    Legend Contributor slomo's Avatar
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    a terrible game for the force, too many handling errors, no ball security, back to bad lineout throws, we were monstered by the sharks.... you cant blame the ref for that...

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    Veteran Ecky's Avatar
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    Yep. It was the ref's fault completely. The players did not contribute to their own downfall at all. Not one little bit.

    Damn you, Keith Brown.

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    Senior Player Hoolly Doolly's Avatar
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    Ref was pedantic for the most part but not pedantic enuff when the sharks were offside around the fringes of the rucks.

    Anyone else notice the UFC headlock on pocock when his legs were pinned in the ruck? surprised he didnt have a broken neck or back to go along with the bung knee.

    wykes made some fumbles early but was instrumental in the comeback later. If theres any positive out of pococks injury its that wykes will get the gametime in the second row with sharpey......why sharpey isnt captain of the wallabies ill never understand.

    Mafi looked great when he came on and good to see smith get some touches. Great game by cummins as well.
    JOC and fairbanks doesnt look like theyre combining very well in attack...even caught them snarling at each other a couple times.....not good.

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    Senior Player Hoolly Doolly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tragic View Post
    Inman seemed to have a dislocated elbow (*shudder*)
    I hope Poey's OK
    ).

    That was horrible to watch on the slomo replay......EEEEEEK!!!

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    Positives?

    Defence was great for 14 on 15 and then 13 on 15! Actually the Force defence is crazy good if you ask me!

    Cummins has improved his defence!! Shame he couldn't show and attacking flare! Next time Nick just follow through with the tackle; was great to watch that hit! O'Connor didn't have his best game, but he was solid enough. Shepo probably didn't have his best game. Hodge gave his best as usual, so did Brown. Unfortunately Shapie got the fumbles when it mattered. Sheehan again had a solid outing. Smith was impressive with hand in ball and a bit of space.

    A few handling errors less and the game could have been different!

    I'll admit that I wanted blood, but hey what can you do about it really! There were some calls that went the way of the Force but others that really went the way of the Sharks. A fellow supporter, who probably thinks I am insane, made a point that because it is a WRC year that the refs are going to be tough!

    Lets hope those nasty injuries don't linger!! Come on FORCE!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    Last edited by unipirate; 05-03-11 at 22:19. Reason: need to learn to count
    I vote - GIVE US A RECTANGLE STADIUM!!!!!!

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    Senior Player Hoolly Doolly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slomo View Post
    a terrible game for the force, too many handling errors, no ball security, back to bad lineout throws, we were monstered by the sharks.... you cant blame the ref for that...
    The first couple throws were def shonky. After that i thought the lineout was ok...even stole a few times. With 14 guys for most of the game i would expect ball security would be an issue considering you wouldnt want to commit too many players into the breakdown.
    To be honest once we were down to 14 and with poey off i was expecting the score to be way past 50 points against and was considering switching off the tube. All things considering i thought they did quite well for the 50/60 minutes to hang in there.
    The first 20 minutes from the sharks was huge...if we were able to sustain that initial force and intensity from the sharks without losing a player i think the force would have made it more of a contest especially once their forwards slowed down and they did.

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