Another good win against quality opposition means that we should be in line for some high ratings this week? Well, maybe. Read on and see!
We need to bear in mind here that while the Sharks did very well to come away with the win in Bloemfontein, they played disctinctly average rugby for well over 80% of the game. Let’s see how the individuals performed.
1. Pat Cilliers. A pretty average outing for the big man, capped off with a broken nose just before half time. WP Nel got the better of him in the scrums and he was largely anonymous in broken play this week, making only 6 tackles and making very little progress with ball in hand. Will drop out for Beast this weekend, but needs to come back fighting. 4/10
2. Craig Burden. Showed that he too is human with a display that was a way off his best. Lineouts and scrums were the main issue here, and while he was active in the loose and on defence, he found the Cheetahs line hard to break with ball in hand. Still made more progress than any other forward bar Kankowski, though. 5/10
3. Wiehahn Herbst. Scrummed reasonably well, but needs to become more destructive at tighthead as he matures. Far more active in the loose than he has been, with 10 tackles to his name and several good ball carries. Needs to hit a few more rucks, but on the whole, Wiehahn is coming on nicely. 6/10
4. Steven Sykes. Topped the statistics for both tackles made and rucks hit – just what you want your tight lock to do. Took over the lineout calls when Skeate went off and seemed to revel in the responsibility. A good outing from a player who is starting to find his best form. 7/10
5. Ross Skeate. A promising debut, but Skeate may just have erred on the side of not doing enough of the tough stuff in a game where the Sharks were getting hammered up front. Must take his share of the blame for the shambolic lineouts. Needs to up his tackle and ruck stats in order to seriously challenge Hargreaves. 5/10
6. Jacques Botes. A very quiet game from Botes. In a loose trio that was outgunned in terms of bulk and physicality, Botes was on a hiding to nothing from the start, since neither Daniel nor Kankowski really has the acumen nor the interest to play the tight game. No doubt Jacques worked away furiously trying to do the job of somebody 15 kgs heavier, but he didn’t seem to accomplish very much in the process. 4/10
7. Keegan Daniel. Always looks threatening when he gets the ball and has a truly beautiful pair of hands, as demonstrated in making the scoring pass for Lambie’s second try. That said, he failed to make much headway against a resolute Cheetahs defence and simply doesn’t have the bulk or physicality to make it as a number 7 in a game like this. Did his best, but he was the wrong man for the job. 5/10
8. Ryan Kankowski. So do we rate him on the first 70 minutes, or the last 10? Again, the issue here is one of balance and since the loose trio had none, Hoff has very little scope to play his natural game until Deysel was brought on in the last quarter. Once he was no longer expected to do the bashing, Kankowski started to shine. Largely anonymous for the first hour, though. The amazing run that set up Lambie’s first try sees him get 7/10.
9. Charl McLeod. Saw to it that the Sharks backs received the best ball they could expect to! Improved his defence remarkably, but still prone to a few handling errors. Communication between him and the rest of the line not always up to scratch – far too often McLeod would break without any support. Still a good game. 7/10
10. Steve Meyer. Had his involvement cut short by a broken nose just on the half-hour mark. Steve battled to really get into the game in his time on the field, although he did put in some truly monstrous tackles on the rampaging Cheetahs in the first half. 6/10
11. Lwazi Mvovo. Had a pretty anonymous first hour, before really igniting the game in the final quarter. Needs to look for work more and improve his positional play, but is simply devastating on attack. 7/10
12. Pat Lambie. Despite all the rave reviews, I thought Lambie struggled for the first hour. He received very little good ball and was unable to make any sort of impact on the defence. That said, he put in some huge tackles and bided his time. Was the clear difference between the two sides in the last 10 minutes, though, playing a vital part in all three of the Sharks’ tries. He’ll get better each week and is a real star for the future. 8/10.
13. Stefan Terblanche. A very quiet game for the old man and one in which his leadership paled into insignificance int he face of the Juan Smith inspired Cheetahs surge. That said, somebody had to be there to keep the lads calm and steer them to the last-minute win and Stef probably needs to get some credit for that. 6/10
14. JP Pietersen. An absolute monster on defence and always looking to involve himself in the play. Guilty of getting into a few mix-ups in the opening half when he should have rather let the inside backs do their thing, but all-in-all, a very encouraging display from one of SA’s most accomplished wingers. 7/10
15. Louis Ludik. Did his level best to get involved in everything he could, but was frustrated by a lack of opportunities on the day. His involvement was cut short by a knee injury that we can only hope isn’t too serious. 5/10
16. Kyle Cooper. This kid somehow always manages to stand out. Perhaps a little unfair to rate him on only 10 minutes’ play, but he came on at a time when the Sharks had the momentum and did his bit to keep the ball rolling. 7/10
17. Beast Mtawarira. Marked his return to the side with some trademark play and looked every bit the unstoppable force of nature we’ve come to know and love. Beast is a legend and his introduction immediately lifted the team and the intensity of the forwards. A little disappointing at scrum time, which is why he only gets 7/10.
18 Eugene van Staden. His best showing to date, capped off by a fine try. Very prominent in the loose for a prop, although if he is a destructive scrummager, we’re still waiting to see the evidence. 7/10.
19 Willem Alberts. A pretty quiet game from the big man, although his introduction at the expense of Botes did do its bit to stem the tide. Moved to lock when Skeate went off, which is frankly a waste of his talents. I don’t see Alberts as an impact replacement, rather a natural starting option along with Deysel and Kankowski. 5/10.
20 Jean Deysel. Again, perhaps a little unfair to rate him highly on only 20 minutes work, but the impact when he came on was palpable and seemed to almost single-handedly swing the entire contest the Sharks way. I’m going to go somewhat overboard here and give Wolla 8/10.
21 Ruan Pienaar. I’m afraid “bad Ruan” was back – it was all shaking of head and waving of arms and very little constructive play. Ruan has shown that on his day, he has the ability to be a great flyhalf. Those days, I fear, are too few and far between to count on. 4/10.
22 Andries Strauss. A great performance from one of the “nearly men” of Sharks rugby. Dries has been very solid and incredibly involved over the past few weeks and on Saturday it was no different. He even managed a line break! 7/10
What do you think, fans? Let me know where I’ve been too generous, as well as unduly harsh.Tweet