Looking at a match from a statistical point of view is always interesting – perhaps more so when it’s a match you didn’t actually see. Without the benefit (or is that hindrance) of a subjective opinion on which to base your views, a quite different picture can emerge. Let’s look at the statistics from the Sharks narrow victory over the Pumas on Friday night.
Looking at the overall tackle statistics, we see that the Sharks only made 97 in the game, with their opponents forced to make almost twice as many (168). The missed tackles are remarkably low, with the Sharks missing just over 10% of their attempts and the Pumas 13%. This certainly backs up the impression that the Pumas kept themselves in the game by virtue of their strong defence. Their loose trio alone managed an astonishing 54 tackles between them. That’s more than half of the Sharks team total! By contrast, the Sharks loosies, typically the players with the highest tackle count, didn’t have too much to do on defence. The player who pulled off the most tackles was Steven Sykes (11), followed by Pat Cilliers (10) and Keegan Daniel (9). This is the second week in a row that Cilliers has been in the top two tacklers in the team.
The worst defensive stats of the night belong to scrumhalf Charl McLeod (who most feel had a good game) who completed 8 tackles, but missed 5 more (half of all the Sharks misses were courtesy of the number 9). Patrick Lambie also weighed in with 8 tackles, but missed none.
Moving to progress with ball in hand, the workload was reasonably evenly spread. Willem Alberts accumulated the most ball carries (13 in only 60 minutes) but was surprisingly a little less effective at breaching the gain line (75%) than Keegan Daniel (12 carries and 85%). The busiest back with ball in hand was JP Pietersen, who carried the ball 11 times. There was another impressive cameo from Kyle Cooper, who took the ball over the advantage line each of the four times he got his mitts on it. Keegan Daniel and Craig Burden both gained 118 metres with ball in hand, while Pietersen was again the best backline carrier, making 93 meters.
Looking at the handling stats, there appears to have been somewhat of a breakdown in midfield, with Pat Lambie only handling 12 times, despite Charl McLeod (78) and Monty Dumond (25) having a fair bit of possession to pass his way. Keegan Daniel and Willem Alberts were again the major beneficiaries, as both handled on 21 occasions. Anyone get the feeling the Sharks may have been just a little one-dimensional on the night, based on these numbers?
Lambie did have a very busy night attending rucks, however, and committed himself to no fewer than 18 breakdowns on attack – more than any of the loose forwards apart from Jacques Botes. Botes, by the by, seemed to be doing his usual thing, which was flying into every ruck he could (37 in total) but I would far rather have my number 8 and blindside flank doing some harder work at that phase and free up my inside centre to do the playmaking… I guess if your loose forwards are always standing out to take the ball, then the centres will have to do the rucking though…
Moving on to handling errors, widely acknowledged to be the Sharks’ Achilles Heel on the night, we see that once again Charl McLeod weighed in heavily, committing 6 of the 27 total handling errors made by the Sharks (the Pumas in contrast only stuffed up 16 times). Outside of McLeod, Lwazi Mvovo, Stefan Terblanche and Alastair Hargreaves each committed 3 errors. JP Pietersen, the worst offender according to the reports I’ve read , is only credited with a single handling error according to the Verusco stats on which this article is based.
Thank to www.ruggastats.com for these figures.Tweet