Following the semi finals that went down two weeks ago, I have set up a statistical comparison of the two teams that will face off in the Final this Saturday. Both winning semi finalists dominated their opposition on the day, WP arguably more so than the Sharks if you look at the scoreboard. I am specifically focusing on the semi finals and not the group stages, as this is the type of game we will be expecting from the teams.
Defensively, many would say that the Sharks were better on defence, especially after the prolonged attack in the dying minutes by the Bulls. But WP were forced to make 50% more tackles on the day, of which they missed one in every tenth tackle. The worst of the tacklers being Schalk Burger and Juan de Jongh. Now I would be tempted to say attack the centre combination on Saturday, but de Villiers was their best defender on the day, nailing 17 tackles and six assists, not missing a single one. The Sharks were immense on defence against the Bulls, and missing only eight tackles on the day was a superb effort. Interestingly enough, the two best tacklers on the day play in the same jersey number, Andries Strauss taking it with 13 tackles and six assists. On Saturday, the Sharks defence will again have to be in amazing form to kill off any attack started by the wonderful WP backline. I would have to give WP 8/10 for defence, and the Sharks 9/10.
If we go to the other end of the spectrum, attacking play was the order of the day for both teams, for WP for the entire game and the Sharks more so in the first half. Looking at the stats, it proves what everybody already knows, that WP have one potent backline. WP on average, get a line break with every tenth touch of the ball, whereas the Sharks get a line break every 20th touch. So in an even game, WP would break the line twice as many times as the Sharks. The average meters gained by a WP backline player is 88m in a game, compared to the 57m by the Sharks. Here I have to give WP 9/10 and the Sharks only 7/10.
In close quarters, it is a very close affair, as it is with any two Currie Cup finalists. The Sharks prefer to play it up with the loose forwards, and it shows with the ruck statistics. The Sharks forwards averaged 36 rucks for the game against the Bulls, whereas WP compared with a mere 25 per forward. It is also evident that the Sharks backs are not scared to get involved in the rucks, with Strauss hitting 32 rucks in the game against the Bulls, which is more than any of the WP forwards bar Anton van Zyl. Include in this the handling of the two teams, and considering the amount of rucking done by the Sharks in comparison to WP and only making 20 handling errors in a wet game compared to the 24 handling errors of WP, I tend to give the Sharks 9/10 and WP 7/10 here.
So to tally up the scores, the Sharks get 25/30 and WP 24/30, and that is purely based on stats, so you can only guess how close this match will be on Saturday. Let us hope for a fair and clean game, and may the best team win.Tweet