Sunday, 23 September 2012

What happened to Sale Sharks?

What happened to Sale Sharks? Most of rugby fans in the North-West England ask this question. The club, which generated lots of media attention before the start of the season, particularly by signing international superstars like Danny Cipriani, Richie Gray, or Andy Powell, is the biggest surprise after first four rounds of Aviva Premiership. Unfortunately, it’s not a positive surprise.

Sale Sharks have big ambitions. They are supposed to fight for the first four spots in the Aviva Premiership and become one of the top clubs in Europe. Supporters were really excited and hungry for success. There was an excellent job done to build a strong brand in the media. Therefore, the fans’ surprise is even more unpleasant that the team’s performance is far from perfect. After the 4th round of Aviva Premiership, Sale Sharks are at the bottom of the table, they are the only team which lost all 4 games. Although we can somehow understand the defeats in games against such strong teams like Exeter. Saracens or Harlequins, the loss at home to London Welsh was completely unacceptable!

I was one of the spectators at this game. Unfortunately, as most fans I was very disappointed. There were a few things which added to my disappointment. First of all, getting to the stadium was a real nightmare! Travelling from Manchester city centre by the public transport took almost 2 hours. Not much quicker was the journey of other fellow supporters who decided to go by car. They were stuck in the same traffic jam as my bus. Another issue is the price of the tickets. Although the cheapest stands (£15) were full, more expensive seats (£33 and £45) were not so popular, and there were many empty seats in these areas. Despite game attendance of 7500, the fans who managed to come didn’t have too many reasons to cheer. After 10 minutes visitors were leading 0:13.

Although beginning of the new season was really awful for Sale Sharks, I hope that team will show strong character and manage to fix problems sooner rather than later. As many Sale Sharks fans I truly believe that the team will perform better and will find their way to the top. I hope that travelling to and from the stadium will soon improve. And finally, I hope that Salford City Stadium will become a real North-West fortress one day.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Rugby Championship - round 4

photo: Planet Rugby
Below is my short review of the fourth round of the Rugby Championship.

All Blacks, despite pretty average game for their standards, managed to win another match, defeating South Africa 21:11. The outcome of the game could have been totally different. Springboks had a really good chance to break All Blacks’ 14 games winning streak. They had quite a few good scoring opportunities – particularly in goal-kicking but poor execution prevented visitors from getting a better result. South Africa players succeeded in only two out of nine kicking attempts. If there is a player who deserved special attention in this game, it has to be Richie McCaw. Once again New Zealand’s skipper performed really well and proved to be one of the best back row players in the world.

In the second game of round four, Argentina frightened mighty Australia. Argentinians were on the verge of remarkable first victory in the Rugby Championship. Pumas were leading 6:19 and forced Wallabies to work very hard to get back into the game. Australia managed to take the lead only 10 minutes before the end of the match. As usual, Argentinians were very physical and ruthless, especially in the defense.  Congratulations to Pumas who are playing very well in the new difficult competition and once again proved to be challenging opponent to the best teams in the world. If they keep performing so well, the first victory is only a matter of time.  Final score 23:19 to Wallabies.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Rugby Championship – Round 3

We are now half way through the Rugby Championship. In the third round, we saw quite surprising match between Argentina and New Zealand. Just like last week, the South American team gave a very ambitious, performance especially in defence. Argentinians took advantage of difficult weather conditions and proved that they are able to effectively compete with the mighty All Backs. Their adequate defense, put New Zealanders’ off their stroke and left them quite “astounded” at Pumas aggressive moves. After 40 minutes, All Blacks were leading 6:5 and the only try was scored by Rodrigo Roncero. After the first half, New Zealand improved their performance which helped them increase the advantage over Argentina. Two quick tries by wingers Julian Savea and Cory Jane decided about the final score 21:5.
In the second game, Australia beat South Africa 26:19. The game was taken over by Springboks right from the beginning. South Africa team took a 10 point lead in the 25th minute of the game (3:13). We all know that Australia don’t give up easily and before the end of the first half they started coming from behind. In the 53rd minute, Wallabies were leading 16:13. In the final minutes, Ben Alexander sealed the victory. Unfortunately, the game was full of injuries and we won’t be able to see Will Genia in the tournament as he damaged his ACL.

Next week, New Zealand will host South Africa and Australia will play with Argentina.