We always prefer to get our season ratings articles off to a nice positive start, but I’m afraid that Firday night’s performance from the Sharks simply wasn’t good enough to warrant particularly high scores.
Let’s have a look at my totally subjective analysis of how the guys did, but also keep these ratings completely in context; it WAS the first game of the season and the guys looked a little underdone. I know that each of them will be determined to do a lot better this week and in the weeks to come.
1) Dale Chadwick. On debut, I thought Dale did well. The kid is STUPIDLY strong and even on the odd occasions that Werner Kruger got the better of the hit, Chadders generally managed to use his upper body to shove the more experienced Bull back. Good on defence, but needs to work harder in the loose. 6/10
2) Bismarck du Plessis. A frankly shocking effort from one of the guys who was supposed to be leading the team. Discipline and basics were shoddy and he made little progress on the drive either. Bissie, we expect better than this from you, boet! 3/10
3) Jannie du Plessis. Did slightly better than his baby brother, in that at least he stood firm, for the most part, against Dean Greyling in the scrums. Was anonymous in any other phase of play, though and pays the price for the collective failings of a tight five that he should have been helping to lead. 4/10
4) Steven Sykes. Did very little to remind us that he’s a 50-capper in this tournament and the Sharks “go-to” hard man in the tight five. For all his experience, Sykes allowed himself to be bullied by less-experienced opposition, which isn’t good enough. 4/10
5) Anton Bresler. Endured a torrid time in the lineouts, which could partially be due to his hooker’s throwing. That said, Anton did some very good things on defence and handled the ball well when asked too. Taking into account this was his first start, we’ll score him a little higher than the guys who should have known better! 5/10
6) Keegan Daniel. The going got tough and the captain, frankly, disappeared. Not good enough, Keegan – these boys are looking up to you for leadership and inspiration. 3/10
7) Marcell Coetzee. The stand-out loose forward for the Sharks, who played with fire and commitment. Not quite as effective on the drive as we’d like and often looked a little one-dimensional, but otherwise had a fine game. 7/10
8) Ryan Kankowski. Can we PLEASE get the Hoff we know and love back? Kanky fell off tackles and generally contributed little elsewhere, apart from one exciting dash down the left flank which, shockingly, failed to deliver points as he missed an obvious inside pass to his skipper. 4/10
9) Fred Michalak. Played like a man under enormous pressure, a lot of which was self-inflicted. Fred looked hassled and harried by the Bulls all game long and his service, frankly, simply wasn’t good enough. 4/10
10) Pat Lambie. Not one of his more assured outings, but also not a bad performance. Received slow ball while at flyhalf, but managed to pass it on as best he could to a back line that tried hard all night. Looked the business at fullback, as we’ve come to expect. 6/10
11) Lwazi Mvovo. Always looked dangerous, but as we’ve come to expect, did very little to get his hands on the ball often enough. 6/10
12) Tim Whitehead. The Sharks best player on the night, both on attack and particularly defence. When 50-cappers were losing their heads all around him, this youngster showed real class and silenced what few doubters he had. 9/10
13) JP Pietersen. A wonderfully confident first outing at centre and showed enough in all phases of the game to suggest a bright future in the jersey. 7/10
14) Louis Ludik. Always looked keen to get involved and was mostly solid, apart from a high-ball or two that went astray. Lacks the genuine pace and guile to be a real threat on the wing, one feels. 6/10
15) Tjoppie Viljoen. Riaan didn’t do all that much wrong on the night, with his huge boot sparing a few blushes and generally solid positional play proving useful. Limited opportunities on attack, which was disappointing. 7/10
16) Craig Burden. On a night when the Sharks were desperate for some penetration and go-forward amongst the pack, this man was inexplicably unused.
17) Wiehahn Herbst. In just 23 minutes, delivered the best performance of any of the the Sharks tight forwards. This kid is simply superb and on form, surely must push Jannie du Plessis for a starting spot. 8/10
18) Ross Skeate. Had little impact when he came on, which was disappointing given his experience and lineout acumen. 5/10
19) Jacques Botes. A huge improvement over Kankowski, even though he lacks the bulk to really challenge the advantage line. Ever present on attack and defence and followed up nicely to score the only try of the game. 7/10
20) Charl McLeod. Service to the backline improved markedly when he came on. Not sure what’s up with the hair, but Charl must keep playing like this! 7/10
21) Meyer Bosman. A revelation at flyhalf late in the second half, where his superb distribution succeeded in getting the Sharks backs into good attacking space. 8/10
22) Paul Jordaan. Very busy debut and ran good supporting lines all over the show. 7/10