I’m going to try not to be too harsh here, since I haven’t checked the stats yet, but also because the Sharks did win, with a bonus point, against a side that is far better on grass than they look on paper. But still, those last 60 minutes in Witbank deserve a few brickbats.
1) Pat Cilliers. A pretty quiet game from a guy who has been stuck in the club ranks for the last few weeks. Held his own in the scrums, I thought, but went missing in general play. All of the forwards need to be docked points for failing at the basics in the last hour as well. Pat needs to step up against the Cheetahs and show that he’s a credible alternative to the Beast. 5/10
2) Craig Burden. Two individual moments of brilliance resulted in the Sharks’ first and fourth tries and that, ultimately, is Burden’s value. Burdo’s role isn’t really to hit rucks, which just means the rest of the pack needs to be working harder, but he could perhaps have tightened up his game when required in the second half. Line outs were good and the Sharks were seldom bested in the scrum. 7/10
3) Eugene van Staden. Stood up to Big Ronnie very well in the front row and actually handed him his ass on a few occasions. Gave a way LOADS of penalties in the process, though and also fell off alarmingly in the second half. 6/10
4) Steven Sykes. A quiet game from Sykesie. Let’s hope the stats reveal more of a contribution than was visible to the casual observer. 5/10
5) Alistair Hargreaves. Another big player who appeared to go walkabout. Let’s see what the stats reveal about his impact. 5/10
6) Jacques Botes. Was his usual bustling self, although suffered from the dropsies a little more than usual. Did superbly to collect the ball from Burden to score the first try and was generally impressive in his support play. Anybody who wants to take Botes’ jersey away from him is going to have to work bloody hard. 7/10
7) Willem Alberts. Big Vic did the damage, yet again. If only he’d had the forwards with him, operating under the proverbial blanket to secure quick possession. Still, this guy is amazing – a huge contributor both on attack and defence. 8/10
8) Ryan Kankowski. Hoff was Rugby365′s man of the match, but I’m not sure I agree with that call. He was more impressive on defence than on attack, but in a game where nobody was prepared to stick to the structures, he hardly had much good ball with which to weave his magic. Needs game time, but is a class act. 7/10
9) Charl McLeod. The forwards didn’t do much to help him and Charl struggled under pressure at some key stages. Handling errors were way too high for a man of his standing and he’ll know that he needs to improve markedly on this showing. 4/10
10) Pat Lambie. Pat suffered, along with the rest of the backs, from a lack of quality ball, but looked calm under pressure and committed few mistakes. He is still perhaps a little too eager to run everything, but given where the Sharks have come from, I’m not sure that’s really a bad thing. His goal-kicking was a little wayward. 6/10
11) Lwazi Mvovo. Pretty much the same argument as last week. This lad is our key strike weapon, but we need to get him the ball more often, which starts with him looking for more work. His try was, quite simply, sublime. 6/10
12) Riaan Swanepoel. Swannie tried manfully and was a handful for the defence, but ultimately didn’t vary his play well enough. Put in a beautiful pass to set up Mvovo’s try. 5/10
13) Andries Strauss. Nothing other than a liability, both on attack and defence, where his lack of pace was shown up time and again. Harsh on Dries, because he’s been playing well at 12, but this chap is no outside centre and the Sharks need to try something different in this position. 4/10
14) Odwa Ndungane. One of the more impressive Sharks outside backs on the night, Oddie is a real vintage. His try showed amazing strength – something we haven’t really seen from him before, but the lack of pace is going to hurt against better teams. His work-rate is exemplary. 7/10
15) Stefan Terblanche. A bit of a mixed-bag. He performed well as a fullback and didn’t kick too much ball away, but any leadership ability is completely negated by him being so far from the action. 6/10
None of the replacements was on long enough to warrant a rating. Here are some thoughts, though.
16) Kyle Cooper. Good to see him back, but what was the point of sending him on for two minutes?
17) Wiehahn Herbst. Could perhaps have made an earlier entry, given that both starting props were visibly tiring after chasing Ronnie Uys around the field for an hour.
18) Mike Rhodes. Could have added a fair bit of bulk at a time when the forwards were being bullied.
19) Skollie Ndlovu. Hands are a real problem here. It seems that every time Skolls gets onto the field, his only contribution is a knock-on or two.
20) Rory Kockott. Missed a sitter of a penalty, which is not a great start. Rory did a bit better than McLeod, I thought, but only marginally so.
21) Andre Pretorius. Has yet to show, in a Sharks jersey, that he’s a matchwinner. Let’s hope we see it soon.
22) Zuks Vulindlu. An impressive cameo from a man who looks full of running and eager to impress. A fit-again Vulindluwill add a huge amount of options to a thin-looking Sharks outside back division.