The Sharks suffered their first defeat of the Currie Cup season on Saturday, losing to the Bulls by 11 points at Loftus. In a highly entertaining game, it was the Sharks who emerged with a 4-try bonus point, adding just a little bit of consolation to an otherwise disappointing performance. Let’s rate the players concerned.
1) Dale Chadwick: His best game in some time. Dominated Werner Kruger in the scrum, tackled like a man possessed and put in a few nice drives and some lovely passes. Keep it up Dale! 8/10
2) Monde Hadebe: A very nice debut, with some great little touches on attack. Lineouts were a bit of a shambles, though and he fell off the pace a little as the big Bulls pack started to take control in the second half. A solid prospect, but could do with a wee bit of extra bulk. 6/10
3) Wiehahn Herbst: A better game from Wors, who stood well in the scrums and made a few nice tackles too. 6/10
4) Steven Sykes: Very physical and active in the first half, including a pair of great breaks to set up the Sharks’ first half tries. A little missing in the lineouts, though and also fell off a bit in the second half. 7/10
5) Anton Bresler: Work rate starting to climb to his best levels again and tackled furiously as usual. Steady in the lineout and put in some nice carries, including a great line break. 7/10
6) Franna Kleinhans: Not quite as good a game as we saw from him last week. Often the challenge for a young player called on to start is to find that consistency and Kleinhans battled against the big Bulls forwards. He will bounce back. 5/10
7) Jean Deysel: A good game from the captain, who looks to be back to his imposing physical best. Still developing his leadership skills, though and really needed to ensure the boys took the game by the scruff of the neck in the third quarter, which he didn’t quite manage to do. 7/10
8) Jacques Botes: Not really looking the part at number 8, if you ask me. Doing his bit on defence, but not the threat on attack we’d expect him to be, given his experience and skills. 5/10
9) Charl McLeod: A real mixed bag from McLeod, who started awfully with a number of crucial errors in the opening minutes. Recovered his composure to play quite well after that – and scored a nice try – but you can’t deny that the backs looked sharper when Reinach came on. 5/10
10) Riaan Viljoen: Just keeps getting better, does Tjop. In his first game as goal-kicker, he returned a 100% record, in addition to all the other things he did on the night. One or two miscued kicks, as we’ve come to expect, but that booming boot was mostly used to great effect. 7/10
11) Sbura Sithole: A bit of a mare for the young winger, who had no opportunity to run and was caught out defensively a few times as the Bulls opted to spread the ball quickly down his channel. 5/10
12) Marius Joubert: Scored a nice try, but otherwise did little to catch the eye. In particular, there was little synergy between himself and Jordaan on attack, with some promising moves breaking down due to poor passing between the two. 6/10
13) Paul Jordaan: Again failed to launch in any meaningful way, which is sad given how good we know he is. An outside centre needs good ball, though and he didn’t get any this weekend. 6/10
14) Odwa Ndungane: Again showed that huge work rate that we’ve come to expect – never stopped playing with all that he had and was justly rewarded with the Sharks’ bonus-point try in the final minute of the game. 7/10
15) Louis Ludik: The best player on the field for the Sharks by quite some margin. It does my head in to watch Zane Kirchner bumble away for the Boks while Ludik is left to languish in the Currie Cup. 9/10
16) Franco Marais: Nice to see him make his debut, but not on long enough to be rated.
17) Julian Redelinghuys: Did reasonably in the scrums, but need to watch discipline and up his work rate. 5/10
18) Jandre Marais: A hugely physical cameo from Sykes’ natural successor. 7/10
19) Lubabalo Mtembu: Not a bad game at all from Tera, who tackled like a man possessed. Still a little naive on attack at times, but will improve with more game time. 6/10
20) Bry Stander: Not long enough to be rated, but looks a real prospect. Nice and physical.
21) Cobus Reinach: Quick, accurate and slick. This is what you want s scrumhalf to be. 8/10
22) Gouws Prinsloo: Came on at a time when the Sharks were hell-bent on chasing tries and showed that he’s a good man for that type of rugby, even if playing at centre is a little foreign to him. 6/10