Brace yourselves, Sharks fans, because it’s time to have a look at some of the statistics to come out of the Sharks’ disappointing loss to Western Province on Saturday. The figures, as always, are brought to you by www.ruggastats.com.
Starting with defence, as always, it’s not altogether surprising to see that the overall effectiveness is way down on what it was against the Leopards. The Sharks were forced to make a lot more tackles and also missed a whole lot more this week – 23 out of 159 attempts, leading to a team effectiveness of just over 85%. That’s low compared to the 90%-plus figures we’re used to and may point to a lack of intensity. Province obviously wanted the game more, hence were prepared to put more into their tackles. Which is why they only missed 24…. hey! Wait a minute? Province missed more tackles than the Sharks. And they also attempted more tackles! So although their effectiveness is a little higher (86%) it’s not really enough to have made that much of a difference. Funny thing is, Province had more of the ball, yet were forced into more tackles. Could that mean, in some way, that even though they kept the ball longer, they made it harder for the Sharks to actually tackle them? The stats aren’t going to show a “missed tackle” caused by effective use of space, now are they? Something to ponder, but I digress!
For the Sharks, Jacques Botes was the best tackler, with 18 hits, 6 assists and no misses. Mike Rhodes came second (14 tackles, 1 assist and 2 misses) followed by Dries Strauss in third (12 tackles, 1 assist and 1 miss). There were plenty of culprits when it comes to missed tackles, but good mates Jannie du Plessis and Ryan Kankowski top the chart with 3 each. Oddie Ndungane was statistically the worst, though, missing 2 tackles out of only 4 attempts, for a 50% return. Al Hargreaves does deserve a special mention, though, for only attempting 3 tackles in total, although, to his credit, he didn’t miss any of those.
Looking at ball in hand stats, we start to see the big difference between the two teams. Both sides carried the ball up about the same number of times (Sharks 106 v WP 108) but the home side broke the line almost twice as often as the Sharks did (16 times, against 9) and made a lot more progress with that ball (1066 total metres gained against 724). This goes some way to explaining how the Sharks look about the same as WP when it comes to missed tackle stats… they would have made more tackles if they could catch the WP guys in the first place! Where Province did very well on the day was halting the momentum of the Sharks ball carriers – particularly the forward – with the result that none of them made as much ground with ball in hand as we’re used to seeing.
Bismarck du Plessis and Odwa Ndunange each carried the ball up 10 times, with the latter sharing the record for most line breaks with Jacques Botes (2 apiece). The entire Sharks three-quarter line managed only 3 line breaks between them, as opposed to 12 by their WP counterparts, which goes some way to explaining the result. On a day when none of the Sharks made more than 100m with ball in hand (Pat Lambie got closest with 99), Bryan Habana, Jacque Fourie, Gio Aplon and Jean de Villiers all exceeded that mark for the home team.
Moving on to the handling stats, it’s probably not surprising that Pat Lambie touched the ball more often than anyone outside the halfbacks (26 times) given that he moved to flyhalf later in the game. It’s not a very edifying statistic in any case, save for the somewhat shocking fact that two of the starting backs, Dries Strauss and Lwazi Mvovo, touched the ball a paltry 6 times each during the course of the match. Province’s numbers are way higher pretty much across the park, an indication of their willingness to do more with the ball they had, throw it around and exploit the gaps that they found.
Ruck attendance was pretty even, but as always, the stats only show which three players hit each breakdown first, rather than giving any indication as to the effectiveness of that hit and the quality of the resulting ball. In terms of workrate around the park, though, hats off to Jacques Botes (again), who topped the ruck attendance stat with 42 (27 attack, 15 defence) and Gerhard Mostert, just behind on 41 (29 and 12). Hargreaves was again anonymous in this phase of the game (hitting only 17 in total), making me wonder, if he wasn’t tackling, running, passing or hitting rucks… what exactly was he doing?
Looking at errors, the Sharks committed way fewer handling errors than Province, (21 to 31) and gave away only slightly more penalties (11 to 9). Rory Kockott stands out in the former category, with 6 handling mistakes double what anybody else committed. the Bethlehem Bros gave away 2 penalties each, as did Kockott and Rhodes. Total screw up score prize this week belongs to Kockott, of course, with his 10 total cock ups far outstripping the 6 that Kankowski managed on the day.Tweet