The Sharks’ internal trials took place on Friday night, and while there have been a few reports coming from various spectators on the night, I thought I would weigh in with a few views of my own.
The game started with a bang for the Zambezi’s, with Craig Burden scoring a try in the left hand corner, the Raggies’ defence just not quite up to scratch so early in the game. The try was converted from the sideline by a Lambie, a kick he would have missed a few months ago.
Captain Daniel got in on the try scoring action, dotting down just to the right of the posts after some very good handling and interplay by JP Pietersen, Meyer Bosman and Keegan himself. Pietersen cut inside and got his hands free in the tackle to pop up to Bosman, who must be enjoying playing inside a strong running centre.
The next 20 or so minutes were rather dull, with play taking place between the two 22m lines and little in the form of attacking play seen. Close to the end of the second chukka, the Zambezi’s scored their third, this time through Meyer Bosman after a solid buildup into the 22m and keeping ball in hand. 21 – 0 at ‘half-time’ and the signs of a hiding were on the cards.
The end of the second chukka brought wholesale changes to both teams, with JP Pietersen seemingly certain of the 13 jersey, being taken off to open the door for Marius Joubert to play in the Raggies 13 jersey, and Paul Jordaan taking up the Zambezi 13 jersey. We also saw Cobus Reinach coming off for Fred Zeilinga on the Raggies side, a move I felt was a bit of a mistake at first.
But I was eating my words very soon as Zeilinga made an immediate impact and scored a brilliant individual try, running about 60m and showing everyone a clean pair of heals. The interplay between Zeilinga and Michalak was brilliant, as they swopped halfback roles at every breakdown, ensuring quick ball as the closest player cleared the ruck.
The scoring was completed by a quick try through Paul Jordaan, after another bit of good passing interplay on the side of the Zambezi’s. It must be noted that the passing and overall handling skills were quite impressive for this stage of the season as well as being in the humid Durban weather. The short pop passes and interplay was great to see, something you would expect to see from the Crusaders.
As everyone knows by now, during the break between the third and fourth chukka, and as a few of the youngsters were warming up to have their chance at impressing the coaches, the power went out and time was called on the entire exercise. It was good to see Plumtree approach old players and coaches to get their views on the trials, something I fully agree with and would love to see more of in the future.
Most of the commentary I had on individual players has been mentioned in some way or form, but I will summarize it into a few short paragraphs:
Stand-outs: In the 60 odd minutes of play, I have to say that a few forwards really put their hand up, with Pieter-Steph du Toit really caught my eye, playing out of his regular position, and making an impact against players who are far his senior. Jacques Botes also caught my eye with a few good contributions, especially being very effective at the breakdown. He was all over the park!
Amongst the backs, the stand out player has to be, shock horror, Meyer Bosman. He looked hungry and full of play. It must also be said that he looks to have bulked up a bit, and although not really tested on defence, was effective in keeping the Raggies backs at bay.
Fred Zeilinga impressed me in the 20 minutes he was on the park, not only with his try, but also in his hunger and ability to bring down players twice his size. He is a big talent and with a bit of game time, and a bit of coaching to get the player to focus on doing the basics right first before trying the ‘Michalak’ or ‘Spencer’ passes and plays.
Disappoinments: The one name that springs to mind is that of Ryan Kankowski, his game can only be described as lethargic and one-dimensional, with Kanko not looking all that keen to get involved. He was clearly outplayed by Mthembu on the night, who seems to have upped his work rate a bit and not standing out on the wing all night.
Another who failed to impress, whether purely by a lack of ball or whether he just didn’t get stuck in enough, but Tim Whitehead would have gone completely unnoticed had Beet not told me he was on the park. He might have been a bit unlucky as the combination between Michalak and Jordaan simply did not work, but he really could have put himself out there more.
Riaan Viljoen did nothing on the night to show that he deserves the fullback jersey ahead of Louis Ludik, who I though played really well on a night that he was stuck on the Raggies side. Ludik was caught out on defence though, so I hope both these players up their game as the last line of defence.
All in all, I think all the players really put their heart in this game, and I was pleasantly surprised by the physical play that went into the breakdowns and some of the big hits that went in around the park. I was expecting a low impact run out but got full blown action. I can only commend the Sharks management team for arranging this game and opening it up to the public, as I am sure all spectators on the night left rather impressed and quite entertained.Tweet