Time for our weekly statistical analysis of the Sharks game, thanks to the Versuco stats kindly supplied by www.ruggastats.com.
Starting off with a look at defence, as always, we see that the Sharks as a whole did pretty well as a unit, a factor which pleased John Plumtree. Only 6 tackles were missed out of 114 attempts, making the resulting effectiveness statistic of 95% the highest of the Currie Cup season so far. While we were a little dismissive of the contributions made by the centres in our player ratings article, a fair bit of crow needs to be eaten, at least on defence. Riaan Swanepoel was the best tackler, putting in 16 hits, with one assist, and missing none. Just to put that into perspective, Swannie made twice as many tackles as the leading forward, Jacques Botes. One can forgive the backs for maybe being a little pedestrian on attack when they were contributing such huge numbers on defence. Second-best was Dries Strauss, with 11 stops, 2 assists and a single miss. Jacques Botes came in third with 8 tackles.
With so few missed tackles in total, it’s a little unfair to single out a worst tackler, since no player missed more than one attempt. Odwa Ndungane pulled off the fewest tackles over all (only one) but since he missed none, his success rate is pretty high! Statistically, Charl McLeod was probably the worst, since he only made 4 and missed one. That’s still 80%, though. Some credit must go to Rory Kockott, though, for pulling off the same number of tackles in 6 minutes as McLeod did in 74!
Craig Burden was the main man when it came to ball carrier, with his 13 just a shade ahead of Willem Alberts on 12. An interesting statistic sees McLeod way up the table this week, with 10 carries on his own, a sure sign that he tried to do more of the playing himself than in the past. McLeod and Lwazi Mvovo share the record for most line breaks, with 3 each, although with Mvovo only carrying the ball 6 times, his ability to break the line is truly phenomenal at 50%. Oom Stef Terblanche leads the metres gained stat with 132, just ahead of Mvovo (113) and Pat Lambie (105). Burden made the most mileage among the forwards (87 metres) with Willem Alberts just behind on 86.
The handling numbers were pretty high throughout, perhaps giving some credence to the view that the forwards spent a little too much time playing with the ball, rather than to the ball. Outside of the halfbacks, it was Ryan Kankowsi (21) and Alberts (20) who touched the ball most often. Here’s a worrying statistic, though. Pat Cilliers was the only forward to handle the ball fewer times than Riaan Swanepoel. How can it honestly be that even the tighthead prop gets his hands on the ball more often than the inside centre? Swannie only touched the pill 7 times, with Lwazi Mvovo one place further back on 6. Alistair Hargreaves(18) made more total passes than any player other than McLeod, which is an interesting testament to the man’s skill and workrate, but does make one wonder if he shouldn’t rather be playing a tighter game. Still, it’s awesome to have a second-rower with such sublime hands.
The ruck attendance numbers were pretty high all round – in fact, far higher than I would have thought, given that the Sharks struggled to produce clean ball for McLeod for large periods of the match. Plumtree has pointed fingers at the ref, accusing him of not spotting Puma skullduggery at the breakdown and the statistics would probably back that up; whatever the Sharks’ problem was, it wouldn’t appear to be caused by insufficient numbers at the point of contact. Steven Sykes tops the list, with 30 hits (28 on attack and 2 on defence), which is a bit below the benchmark of between 35 and 40. There were solid contributions from a number of others, though, with Jacques Botes (29), Eugene van Staden (28) and Pat Cilliers (26) all pulling their weight. Hats off again to poor bloody Swannie, who hit 23 rucks from inside centre.
Moving on to the error count, we see Eugene van Staden standing head-and-shoulders above everyone else with 4 penalties conceded. Oddy Ndungane was next worst with 2, while the team penalty count of 13 conceded was way too high, one would think. The 16 total handling errors were reasonably well distributed across the team, with no players in particular more guilty than others. When it comes to forced and unforced errors, Charl McLeod (5) and Ryan Kankowski (4) emerge as the real culprits. Our new “total screwup score”, which adds all errors together, has McLeod as the sloppiest player (1 penalty, 2 handling and 5 other errors) just slightly ahead of Kankowski. That pretty much confirms what we thought, I’d say.Tweet