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With the disappointment of our own team’s loss and the apparent slip on our last bit of home ground hope that we had left, it seemed that my fellow selectors will to watch a Bulls game directly after was gone. This left two selectors and four positions we could not agree on. The team is mostly made up of Stormers and Bulls, only 2 Sharks (and 2 more selected by the stats) made it in after a disappointing showing, strewn with errors by them over the weekend.
I decided to break the deadlock at fullback, scrumhalf, openside flank and lock by using stats that I got from four different sites and see which one of the selectors made the right decision based on these compiled stats and the results I got from it.
15. Zane Kirchner (2)
Kirchner is the first of our selections decided by the stats. It was between him and Joe Pietersen, their stats were pretty even across the board. On attack they both made good meters Kirchner 66m and Pietersen 72m, they both made 1 line-break each, but Kirchner was also awarded an offload and one more go forward possession than Pietersen, he was also credited for creating a line-break by one site. Both players were poor on defence Kirchner making 1 tackle and missing 3 and Pietersen making 4 and missing 2, just a little better. It was their error rates that tipped the scales for me, Kirchner lost possession 2 times, whereas Pietersen lost possession 3 times and made 4 errors in general play.
14. Akona Ndugane (3)
Always solid on defence and busy on attack, he makes it into our team for the third time and his form is only improving with that of his team.
13. Bryan Habana (1) & (3) at 11
In the last few weeks Habana has been delivering better performances each week. This week he had to shift back to the midfield and did not look as good as he has been on the wing but there were no other contenders in this position in the SA conference.
12. Juan de Jongh (1) & (2) at 13
He looks comfortable in his possession, he straightens the line and gets his team over the advantage line with ease.
11. Gio Aplon *
His first time in our team. We haven’t seen him at his best yet, he got involved more in this game and maybe it is because the Stormers opened up more in this game but they are still playing very tight and that means Aplon won’t be as prominent as he could be in a more attacking team.
10. Peter Grant *
He came into the Stormers team in the third round and has been slowly regaining his confidence. This weekend he delivered some of his best again, taking on the line, keeping the defenders on their toes, creating space and putting his players over the advantage line with good offloads and accurate passes.
9. Francois Hougaard (4)
This was a tough one for me, even with the stats. Hougaard had a surprisingly conservative game on attack, making only 4 runs and 17m, this is still better than Duvenage’s 1 run and 2m. Hougaard also made 6 kicks, 2 more than Duvenage, but it’s in how involved the two players were in general play that is surprising with Duvenage making 65 passes, 20 more than Hougaard. This either shows that Duvenage was a better distributor or, the Bulls had less possession, or the Bulls favoured the pick and drive on the day, none the less an interesting stat. One which may have given me incentive to select Duvenage ahead of Hougaard, considering how assertive his team was on the day, but then Hougaard gets credited with creating 2 line-breaks a stat missing in Duvenage’s column. Hougaard’s defence, making 9 tackles (one of which is credited as a try saving tackle) missing only 2 and stealing one ball was also way better than Duvenage’s 6 tackles and 4 missed tackles, but then his team didn’t really have trouble on defence. As I said, a tough one to pick.
8. Duane Vermeulen (2) & (1) at 7
He had a strong outing as captain. Interesting enough both other contenders for this spot were also their teams’ captains this weekend. Keegan always plays his heart out and is at the centre of everything, but makes too many errors for a captain and as the captain. Pierre Spies had a rather quiet game and got pushed back in a few tackles. Duane was present on defense, attack and as a captain.
7. Marcell Coetzee (3) & (2) at 6
This one was also selected with the help of some stats. Marcelle only played for 40 minutes and maybe that is the only reason why his selection wasn’t clear cut because on the day Marcelle was by far the best 7 in the SA conference, but he only played 40 minutes and that’s why I checked the stats. Compared with Kolisi and Botes who were also selected on the flanks. Botes outscores Kolisi and automatically gets selected in his position, at blindside flank. That leaves Marcelle and Kolisi. In the 73 minutes Kolisi was on the field he made 5 runs for 40 meters and 4 go-forward possessions, busting 4 tackles and making one line-break. Marcelle in his 40 minutes on the field made 7 runs for 50 meters and 5 go-forward possessions, busting 4 tackles and making 2 line-breaks. On defense Kolisi made 13 tackles missing one, he stole 1 ball on the ground and lost 1 in contact and attended 11 rucks. Marcelle made 9 tackles with no misses, he didn’t make a steal, lost 1 ball in contact and knocked 1 ball on, he attended 9 rucks. Maybe it’s not fair comparing a guy who played 73 minutes to one that played 40, but to my mind Marcelle did more in the 40 he played than Kolisi did.
6. Jacques Botes (2)
He made 30 running meters, 1 line break, 14 tackles, stole 2 balls on the ground and attended 40 rucks, probably more than any Sharks player in any given game this season. We didn’t lose our balls at ruck time (we lost it through bad handling and decision making) and the Chiefs struggled to get good quick attacking ball. He’s not done just yet.
5. Anton Bresler *
Another one decided by the stats and I have to admit he was not one of the players chosen by the Sharksworld selectors. I put him in the running since Etzebeth was selected out of position and I was not so confident with my own selection of Wilhelm Steenkamp. The stats show that Steenkamp was more prominent in the lineouts taking 5 compared to the 2 of both Etzebeth and Bresler. Ruck attendance is pretty even for all three players 13 Steenkamp, 12 Bresler and 9 Etzebeth. It’s in meters gained that Etzebeth stands head and shoulders above the rest with 43 meters gained from 6 carries, with 1 line-break, busting 4 tackles and providing 4 go-forward possessions for his team. Bresler is the next best with a mere but decent 16 meters from 5 carries, providing 3 go-forward possessions for the Sharks. Steenkamp made only 6 meters from 2 carries. Bresler heads the tackle stats with 11 tackles and only 2 misses, Steenkamp behind him with 7 tackles and 1 miss and Etzebeth making only 3 tackles. It is clear that as a ball carrying option Etzebeth wins this race, but Bresler with a better overall work rate edges Etzebeth out, and since he was the better of the two playing at 5 over the weekend an altogether different position than 4, I thought it only fair to give him his first mention in our team.
4. Steven Sykes (3)
Surprisingly, both locks this week come from the Sharks. In a tight game Sykes was solid on defense and a workhorse in the loose. He was not used as much as a ball carrier but did make 20 meters with his 3 carries, indicating that he was effective when used albeit not used as much. His overall work rate was also much higher than that of Etzebeth, the other candidate for this position thus Sykes makes our team this week.
3. Werner Kruger (2)
A few good runs and strong set pieces is what got my attention to his selection this week.
2. Chilliboy Ralepelle (5)
It’s 5 – 3 against “the best in the world” now, and it’s not because he does everything better than everyone else but because he consistently plays at an outstanding level, continually getting the basics right and makeing very few errors. It has become too easy to select Chilli over the very temperamental “best in the world”!
1. Steven Kitshoff (5)
Another outstanding performance by the young prop. The Stormers scrum was put under pressure early in the game but the pressure was absorbed by the young man and his pack and by the end of the game the scrum was as solid as ever. Another player who has a good work rate, week in and week out.
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