The Sharks stepped out in electrifying red and white jerseys as they faced the Crusaders on Saturday at Growth point Kingspark Stadium. These limited edition jerseys were worn to promote what was probably the best thing to come out of the day, the launch of ‘The Sharks Forever Fans’ campaign, which saw The Sharks teaming up with The Organ Donor Foundation of South Africa to promote organ donation. The boys can all be commended for their sacrifice as they all signed up to be Organ Donors and challenged all of their fans to do the same. There is no greater sacrifice than to commit yourself to saving and changing the lives of others.
“Everyone associated with The Sharks has bought into the project and our hope is that our fans embrace the campaign and the message we want to extend. Our legacy is to ensure that the black and white heartbeat lives on forever and this campaign goes a long way in us trying to achieve that.” – said The Sharks CEO John Smit. The jerseys were also auctioned off after the game with all proceeds going to the project.
Unfortunately this amazing campaign was overshadowed by The Sharks poor performance which lends us to believe that their minds were on the cause and not on the game. The Crusaders thundered onto the pitch with a 14 point lead within the first seven minutes. From then it was just impossible for the Sharks to bite back, with our usual kicking game proving futile against the Saders who just kept running at us.
Perhaps a different strategy could have been considered after referee Stuart Barry yellow-carded three New Zealanders within four minutes leading up to half time. Retaining position and opting for a more running game against 12 men would surely have led to more points on the board, however the boys were clearly frustrated by the Crusaders foul play and a disregard for discipline was evident, perhaps the level head and leadership of Bismark was lacking on the field.
Deysel received a red card and as a result a 7week ban for kneeing loose forward Matt Todd in the back of the head. The Sharks were down 28 points to 3 at half time and being forced to play with 14 men for the remainder of the match, their heads were clearly not in the game.
The Crusaders also didn’t perform at their best, though the final score of 52-10 begs otherwise, handling errors were rife and it was a scrappy game all around. In the end it came down to retaining possession, showing depth in field and being fluid and dynamic, which the Saders proved to be.
Adding insult to injury for the Sharks, Pat Lambie was removed from the field in the latter half of the game with a neck injury that has him ruled out for 6 weeks.
Despite the disappointing loss, the Sharks remain third on the combined southern hemisphere inter-provincial standings while Crusaders climbed four places to sixth, the last play-offs spot.
The Sharks have a lot to prove in Ellis Park next week as they take on the Lions, with many key players down, can the boys who will surely be back in black in white rise to the occasion and play to their full potential?