The Sharks were forced to do a LOT of tackling on the way to a satisfying victory over the Reds on Saturday. The team made 182 tackles in total, but even more amazing was the fact that almost a quarter of those were made by only two players, both of them loose forwards.
The Sharks forwards – and the loose trio in particular – were truly superb against the Reds and the stats (which, by the way, I’ve borrowed from the awesome RuggaStats site) show exactly how well they did. Leading the tackle count, unsurprisingly, was blindside flank Willem Alberts, with 23 completed tackles and 4 assists. That’s more than one tackle every four minutes and if you consider that the ball is probably only in play for less than two minutes out of every four, it’s amazing that Alberts actually managed to do anything other than tackle. He did, though, carrying the ball an impressive 14 times, breaking the line three times in the process. One area in which he didn’t excel according to the statistics was ruck attendance, only hitting ten rucks on own ball and six on defence. Then again, as the primary forward strike runner, I guess hitting rucks wasn’t his priority.
Alberts did miss five tackles, though, making him the worst missed-tackle offender in the team, along with John Smit.
Not far behind in terms of overall tackles was Jacques Botes, who completed 20 on his own and assisted another player three times. Botes missed not a single tackle, though and attended a staggering 30 rucks on own ball and ten on opposition. 40 rucks in a game! Not to mention the lineout steals, ball carries (five, with one line break) and overall ball handles (15). It’s not hard to see why the pint-sized flanker was given man of the match.
Other forwards to weigh in heavily on defence were Alistair Hargreaves (16 tackles, six assists) and Bismarck du Plessis (15 tackles, five assists) while John Smit and Steven Sykes were the next best after Botes when it comes to overall ruck attendance. The skipper was pretty anonymous on defence, though, completing only 8 tackles, meaning that he missed somewhere just south of 40% of the tackles he attempted. Seems that Barney needs to put in a little extra work on defence in training…
Among the backs, it was, quite surprisingly, Andy Goode who weighed in with the most completed tackles – a respectable twelve. He missed four others, though, giving him a tackle completion rate of only 75%. If one adds the two missed by Riaan Swanepoel and the one that Stefan Terblanche missed, we’ll see that Quade Cooper and his bunch were allowed through our midfield on no fewer that seven occasions in all, which is far too many. A definite area for improvement.
What I find truly amazing, though, is that Swannie only handled the ball five times all game. That is nowhere near enough for an inside centre (a playmaking position) and seems a pretty sure sign that the current 10-12 combination isn’t working as it should on attack either.Tweet