Sharks player ratings v EP Kings

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 29 Sep 2014 at 09:48
Tagged with : , , , , , , , ,

The Sharks picked up five invaluable logs points in Durban on Saturday afternoon in a 53-24 win over the Kings. Let’s take a closer look at the performances.

The team overall
This is tricky. The Sharks scored tries aplenty, which is what we want them to do. On the other hand, the opposition was poor, yet nonetheless, for a large portion of the game, the Sharks took their foot off the throttle and allowed the Kings to dictate proceedings. Conceding three tries against opposition such as this does not bode well for the tougher matches to come; worse still, the scrum performance was certainly not an improvement on the Loftus showing of a week ago and was frankly rather embarrassing. It’s easy to dwell on negatives, though – and it seems mean-spirited to do so after a fifty pointer – so we’ll assess the team this week as very good, but falling short of being truly great. Finishing, in particular, was vastly improved; even though there were a good five tries left out there, the Sharks did well to convert seven other opportunities into points.

The star performers
A fair few players put their hands up and turned in games that were really exceptionally good under the circumstances – or, in fact, any circumstances. Trying to pick the absolute best of them is no mean feat, but I wanted to call out three players whose impact on the game was measurable. For the second week running, Etienne Oosthuizen was colossal. To borrow (and translate, without changing the spelling) a phrase from our Afrikaans friends, Ettas was “pure Bok” on the day and is developing into a flanker of real calibre. He is becoming far more assured with ball in hand and on Saturday used his strength and size to great effect as a carrier. It’s his work rate, though, that truly impresses, with an uncanny ability to win ball at the breakdown something that sets him apart from others wearing the seven on their backs. Also incredible on the day was captain Tera Mtembu, who led the team strongly and turned in a fine individual performance to boot. Tera is surprisingly strong in contact, quick enough and has a marvelously soft pair of hands (a testament to his cricketing past?). Also standing tall with a game-changing performance was flyhalf Lionel Cronje, who continues to provide much-needed direction to the backs with his strong work on the advantage line and accurate flat pass. As a player who came to the Sharks with serious question marks, Lionel is erasing more of these with every game he plays.

The overachievers
Let’s look at this in the context of massive, massive improvement; not taking the opposition into account, I’d like to call out the guys who I felt performed above expectation, based on their own prior form and ability.
Marco Wentzel – He was all over the show, while running the line-outs with aplomb. A player with great anticipation and lovely hands, Wentzel was key in continuity this week and came very close to scoring twice himself.
Khaya Majola – Brought huge energy and enthusiasm to the open side flanker role; carried strongly on occasion and tackled hard and often. Perhaps guilty of a transgression or two at the breakdown.
Cameron Wright – Built on a strong showing at Loftus with another very good performance. Distribution continues to be sweet, while he’s cutting down on the number of individual errors too.
Andre Esterhuizen – Such a dominant figure on defence and so strong with ball in hand. Many areas of his game need work, but you cannot coach his sheer size and aggression into anyone else.
Paul Jordaan – A deadly finisher; Jordaan scored two very good tries and was mostly very accurate on defence too. Still can’t shake the feeling that he’s a natural winger, though.

Performing to expectation
The following chaps did about what we’d expect.
Kyle Cooper – strange that he only got 40 minutes. What we saw from him was good as expected, without any real stand out moments.
Lwazi Mvovo - harsh perhaps, given his involvement in two tries in under 10 minutes? As the most-capped player in the team, though, we hold Lwazi to a high standard and he was rather quiet for the last hour of the game.
SP Marais – A very solid performance at fullback, although he admittedly wasn’t tested too much on defence.

Subs Franco Marais, Danie Mienie, Stephan Lewies, Conrad Hoffmann, Tonderai Chavanga and Tim Swiel fall into this category too; mostly because we didn’t see enough of any of them to be quite sure.

Needing a bit of work
Only three players had what I would consider wholly disappointing games:
Dale Chadwick – for a second week running, came decidedly second at scrum time, which had a knock-on effect on the rest of his game.
Johan Meyer – admittedly came on in an unfamiliar position, but Meyer was again far too quiet. He’s still young, but is not yet shining on the senior stage.
S’bura Sithole – it frustrates me hugely to see such a potentially great outside centre going to waste on the wing. It’s not that S’bura did anything particularly bad on the day, it’s just that we didn’t see him at all.

What do I do with these?
Eagle-eyed readers will spot two names missing from the above categories. There are two guys who, for me, did certain things stupendously well, only to be horribly let down by other aspects. I wanted to call these out specifically, to give strong credit were due, but not to gloss over the things I didn’t like. It would’ve been wrong to simply lump either of them into the “average” category.
Lourens Adriaanse – scrum work and discipline were both appalling, but my goodness, when last did you see such a high work rate in every area from a guy wearing a three? Scored a cracking try and put in more important contributions on attack than I’d care to count.
JC Astle – stole at least five opposition line-outs and on that stat alone is worthy of huge praise. We cannot hide from the fact, though, that he does not bring enough physical presence as a 4 lock and that the scrums, in particular, seem to really battle when he’s in that role.


  • Damn what’s going on with the scrums this year? We haven’t struggled this bad in a long damn while.

  • Comment 1, posted at 29.09.14 10:04:56 by PTAShark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    DragnipurSuper Rugby player
  • Heartwarming to see Lionel Cronje doing so well, unfortunate it had to be against my Kings

  • Comment 2, posted at 29.09.14 10:08:31 by Ludz Reply

    LudzSuper Rugby player
  • Good performances from Oosthuizen, Cronje, Wright and Majola. The defending of the mauls was horrible and i cant help but think that goes hand in hand with the poor scrumming- a serious area of concern. I still think we tackle too high and dont bring down the opposition quick enough or hit them back. Handling on attack was mostly better.

  • Comment 3, posted at 29.09.14 10:18:14 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
  • Spot on Rob. The Ettiene/Stephan try was probably my favourite of the match followed closely by Jordaan’s two. We need to sort out our defense in all areas and ball protection was concerning at stages.

  • Comment 4, posted at 29.09.14 10:46:10 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    vanmartinAssistant coach
  • I am glad to see that Cronje is delivering that vital piece that all teams need at 10 – space for the outside backs.

    Ive always felt he had the talent – glad to see him delivering.

  • Comment 5, posted at 29.09.14 11:00:26 by Big Fish Reply
    Big FishAssistant coach
  • I am not so sure that we can blame Chadwick so much for the scrums. So far in this CC, he has had beanpoles scrumming behind him at 4. The only times when the scrum seemed to be more stable, was the times that Etta played 4. Maybe the cure for this will be to work on the forward pack to scrum as more of a unit, not 5 tight forwards with 3 loosies not adding their weight. That is why the scrums look better with the Tank at 1, he at least has the bulk and power to compensate for no power coming through from the back of the scrum.

  • Comment 6, posted at 29.09.14 11:41:43 by KingRiaan Reply

    KingRiaanTeam captain
  • @KingRiaan (Comment 6) : I dont think many people that havnt scrummed before understand the importance of all 8 scrumming together and tightly.

  • Comment 7, posted at 29.09.14 12:09:01 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
  • @SheldonK (Comment 7) : Too true that, easy to lay all the blame by the props, but apart from the binding, most of the work in the scrum must come from the back.

  • Comment 8, posted at 29.09.14 12:14:55 by KingRiaan Reply

    KingRiaanTeam captain
  • All the locks need at least 10 points … NO INJURIES?

  • Comment 9, posted at 29.09.14 12:56:11 by byron Reply

    byronSuper Rugby player
  • @SheldonK (Comment 7) : Time to get an Argentinian scrum coach on loan.

  • Comment 10, posted at 29.09.14 12:59:17 by Bokhoring Reply
    BokhoringAssistant coach
  • Thank you for a most insightful article, Rob. Sorry, no time to comment further. Hope Friday brings some relief!

  • Comment 11, posted at 29.09.14 13:00:31 by [email protected] Reply

    DenCurrie Cup player
  • Dale is proving to be a damn lazy player for 2 weeks in a row. Swiel is not shaping at all on this level. Our centres spoiled various opportunities through bad hands but came back strong. Tera and Oosthuizen were fantastic! Even Cronje was good.

  • Comment 12, posted at 29.09.14 16:33:56 by KILLER SHARK Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
    KILLER SHARKTeam captain
  • @KILLER SHARK (Comment 12) : a bit tough on Swiel, given that he went off injured 5 minutes after coming on.

  • Comment 13, posted at 29.09.14 16:47:33 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • @robdylan (Comment 13) : :shock: 5 minutes????? Try 30 seconds :twisted: :twisted: ;-)

    In all seriousness, I do think Dale is being criticized a little unfairly for his scrummaging. I watched the match again carefully, and I don’t know what Adriaanse was doing, but he was being thoroughly dominated, or monstered by CJ at every single scrum. When driven back, the TH side was driven back significantly more than the LH side, and we were penalized. I felt Chadwick was doing what he could to hold his side down, but without any support from his TH. Other than the absolutely horrendous scrummaging by Adriaanse, he was superb and ever-present in every other facet of play. I actually saw him hit 5 rucks in a row, for a front rower to get from one ruck to the next in time to help is really hard, to do it 5 times in a row is unheard of.

  • Comment 14, posted at 30.09.14 02:22:22 by Dancing Bear Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Dancing BearAssistant coach
  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 14) : ai! Don’t make me write another apology :(

  • Comment 15, posted at 30.09.14 09:23:50 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach

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