HRK series: Leinster expose Sharks’ gaps


There will simply be a lot of water in the sea before the Sharks will be one of the leading contenders in the United Rugby Championship.

It stood out like a sore eye in Dublin on Saturday when Leinster beat the Sharks 34-13.

It was the Sharks’ second consecutive defeat on tour after they were beaten 34-21 by Munster in Limerick last Saturday.

Yes, there were extenuating circumstances, such as the Sharks being without eight of their Springbok heroes who were in France with the Springboks’ World Cup team. Then the fiery Vincent Tshituka had to be replaced after a shoulder and arm injury.

It will also take a while before the “new” coach, John Plumtree’s plans to give the Sharks a new attacking dimension will seep through.

But also look at the opposite: Leinster were without 14 of their Irish test players and Munster also had to do without most of their Irish test players.

Leinster, who lost to the Glasgow Warriors in the first round last week, made the necessary adjustments within a week and reverted to their established pattern that had brought the Irish so much success in the past.

Also remember that Jacques Nienaber, the Boks’ World Cup winning coach, will soon join Leinster and then the puppets will dance properly.

The Sharks had six Springboks, a Blitzbok and a Scottish international player in their group of 23 on Saturday. But they have been struggling for a few seasons now to be consistent, to limit the mistakes, to make the right decisions, to score tries.

It is still very early in the season, but the scoreboard is already not good reading material for Sharks fans. They are scoreless, second last and just a head ahead of the struggling Welsh Scarlets.

Yes, things can change like at Leinster within a week or two, especially when the Sharks return home and can take on the Iron Goats. But if the Sharks play like they did against Leinster or Munster, how are they going to beat the Stormers or Bulls?


Leinster 34 (12): Tries: Rob Russell (2), Jordan Larmour, Max Deegan, Tommy O’Brien. Goals: Harry Byrne (2), Sam Prendergast (1). Penalty goals: Byrne (1).

Sharks 13 (6): Three: Dylan Richardson. Goal kick: Brother Chamberlain. Penalty goals: Curwin Bosch (2).