The Sharks turned in yet another solid performance in downing the Cheetahs 34-20 in Bloemfontein this weekend. Let’s run the rule over this rapidly-improving team and rate the individuals concerned.
1. Beast Mtawarira. Continues to impress after returning from injury and while WP Nel proved a tougher scrummaging opponent than he faced last week, Beast came through the challenge well. More active with ball in hand as well. 7/10
2. Bismarck du Plessis. The beating heart of the Sharks forward effort. When Bismarck is on song – and at his imperious best – it lifts those around him. Guilty of a little poor discipline at times, but was also singled out unfairly on a number of occasions for reasonably innocuous incidents. 8/10
3. Jannie du Plessis. Really coming back into his best form as a scrummaging tight head and was reasonably prominent on the drive as well. The Sharks tight 5 as a whole continues to impress and Jannie is a big part of that. 7/10
4. Steven Sykes. Looked a little off his game, to be honest and lacked impact. Replaced shortly after half time – was he perhaps carrying an injury? 5/10
5. Anton Bresler. The go-to man in the middle of the lineout, he was once again huge on defence with a massive work rate in all areas of the game. 8/10
6. Jacques Botes. Worked himself to a standstill as usual and did huge work at the breakdown to counter the threat posed by Heinrich Brussow. 7/10
7. Marcell Coetzee. Another superb game from a superbly consistent player. The confidence and maturity with which he plays tend to bely his youth. Continues to shine as one of the brightest stars in this Sharks team. 7/10
8. Keegan Daniel. If there’s one thing we’ve learned not to expect from Keegan, it’s the conventional. Plays such a crucial role in the Sharks’ continuity-based game and is growing in stature as a captain as the team continues to win games. 8/10
9. Charl McLeod. Despite a bright start, pretty soon reverted to the slow, inaccurate service that has plagued his game all season. 5/10
10. Fred Michalak. Asked to step into the flyhalf jersey very soon before the game, Fred delivered a very typical performance that combined the (mostly) sublime with occasional moments of the ridiculous. Put in one or two kciks that didn’t work out, but was otherwise superb, with a try included in his 19-point contribution. 8/10
11. Lwazi Mvovo. Some neat touches on both defence and attack, but after last week’s heroics, we need to dock him a point for a terrible knock with the try-line at his mercy. Made good, though, with a superb break to set up the final try. 7/10
12. Tim Whitehead. Battled for front foot ball, but was supremely active on defence and tried his utmost in everything that he did. Another young gem who continues to grow in composure as the season progresses. 7/10
13. Paul Jordaan. His attitude and enthusiasm, coupled with express pace, do a lot to excuse a number of technical shortcomings in his game. This young man has something special and it’s great to see him developing week by week. 7/10
14. JP Pietersen. Stood up as the senior player in the backline and made his presence felt, with some big physical carries that tested the Cheetahs defence. Was also strong when asked to defend and is starting to look back to his Bok best out on the wing. 8/10
15. Riaan Viljoen. Guilty of some aimless kicking (with Fred Michalak’s pace and guile turning one such poor kick into an unlikely try) and also tends to make poor decisions on the counter. Not a bad performance, but not a patch on what Ludik brought against the Force either. 6/10
16. Craig Burden. Not on long enough for a fair assessment. Need to remember too that the Sharks were down to 7 in the pack while he was there and that showed.
17. Wiehahn Herbst. A good showing from the sub, who came stupidly close to his maiden Super Rugby try. Stood firm against Oosthuizen in the scrums and was his usual bustling self on defence and at the breakdown. 7/10
18. Willem Alberts. Starting to look a bit more like the Vic of old, with some nice big hits and a few barnstorming runs. Still appears to be holding back a little from contact, but the signs are encouraging. 7/10
19. Jean Deysel. Not on long enough to be rated. Why have him and not use him?
20. Ryan Kankowski. As above. Picking two loose forwards on the bench and giving each just a few minutes seems silly, particularly when there is no scrumhalf on the bench.
21. Meyer Bosman. A nice performance from Meyer, who used his size to good effect. Scored a lovely try as well. 7/10
22. Odwa Ndungane. Unused.