Tomorrow is going to be a big day in South African Rugby for the Super 15. We’re entering the second half of the competition and the Sharks are three points behind the Stormers in the South African conference. If we can win tomorrow it will mean that we will leapfrog the Stormers into the pole position in the conference. This is also the second meeting between the two sides this year after the Stormers came to Durban three weeks ago and beat the Sharks 16 – 6.
While many supporters would argue that the Sharks were without the already talismanic Patrick Lambie at flyhalf; we had the opportunities to win the game and couldn’t convert them into points. The positions have been reversed this week with the Stormers flyhalf, Peter Grant, ruled out with a knee injury. With Patrick Lambie back, it essentially means that both teams are almost exactly the same which contested the Currie Cup Final six months ago; a game the Sharks won 30 – 10. The difference is that the game is now being played in Cape Town instead of Durban.
Both teams have very different paths going forward toward the end of the competition and the rest of the competition will certainly affect their final positions. The Sharks have done their travelling to the Antipodes and all of their remaining games will be played in South Africa and while there are several games which won’t be played in Durban, it certainly helps that the team doesn’t have to climb on a long haul flight to the other side of the world. They have also only had one bye with another rest coming up in the next few weeks. The Stormers have had both of their byes (even though their first bye was stupidly in the very first week) and they now have to get through the rest of the competition without any further rest.
It might not sound as though it would be too much of a factor but if one looked how tired the Sharks and lethargic the Sharks looked after their tour and having played for eight weeks straight, you realise just how much of a factor that can be. It’ll be another motivating factor for the Stormers to try and bring the Sharks down and give themselves a push because if they lose this week, it might be the start of a long, long second half of the tournament for them.
But no matter what happens tomorrow between these two teams, it is clear they are the two best South African teams in the competition and come the end of June and the playoffs, these two teams will definitely feature.