Richard Ferguson

Final thoughts on the Trial match

Written by Richard Ferguson (Richard Ferguson)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 6 Feb 2012 at 08:00
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Sharks’ internal trials took place on Friday night, and while there have been a few reports coming from various spectators on the night, I thought I would weigh in with a few views of my own.

The game started with a bang for the Zambezi’s, with Craig Burden scoring a try in the left hand corner, the Raggies’ defence just not quite up to scratch so early in the game. The try was converted from the sideline by a Lambie, a kick he would have missed a few months ago.

Captain Daniel got in on the try scoring action, dotting down just to the right of the posts after some very good handling and interplay by JP Pietersen, Meyer Bosman and Keegan himself. Pietersen cut inside and got his hands free in the tackle to pop up to Bosman, who must be enjoying playing inside a strong running centre.

The next 20 or so minutes were rather dull, with play taking place between the two 22m lines and little in the form of attacking play seen. Close to the end of the second chukka, the Zambezi’s scored their third, this time through Meyer Bosman after a solid buildup into the 22m and keeping ball in hand. 21 – 0 at ‘half-time’ and the signs of a hiding were on the cards.

The end of the second chukka brought wholesale changes to both teams, with JP Pietersen seemingly certain of the 13 jersey, being taken off to open the door for Marius Joubert to play in the Raggies 13 jersey, and Paul Jordaan taking up the Zambezi 13 jersey. We also saw Cobus Reinach coming off for Fred Zeilinga on the Raggies side, a move I felt was a bit of a mistake at first.

But I was eating my words very soon as Zeilinga made an immediate impact and scored a brilliant individual try, running about 60m and showing everyone a clean pair of heals. The interplay between Zeilinga and Michalak was brilliant, as they swopped halfback roles at every breakdown, ensuring quick ball as the closest player cleared the ruck.

The scoring was completed by a quick try through Paul Jordaan, after another bit of good passing interplay on the side of the Zambezi’s. It must be noted that the passing and overall handling skills were quite impressive for this stage of the season as well as being in the humid Durban weather. The short pop passes and interplay was great to see, something you would expect to see from the Crusaders.

As everyone knows by now, during the break between the third and fourth chukka, and as a few of the youngsters were warming up to have their chance at impressing the coaches, the power went out and time was called on the entire exercise. It was good to see Plumtree approach old players and coaches to get their views on the trials, something I fully agree with and would love to see more of in the future.

Most of the commentary I had on individual players has been mentioned in some way or form, but I will summarize it into a few short paragraphs:

Stand-outs: In the 60 odd minutes of play, I have to say that a few forwards really put their hand up, with Pieter-Steph du Toit really caught my eye, playing out of his regular position, and making an impact against players who are far his senior. Jacques Botes also caught my eye with a few good contributions, especially being very effective at the breakdown. He was all over the park!

Amongst the backs, the stand out player has to be, shock horror, Meyer Bosman. He looked hungry and full of play. It must also be said that he looks to have bulked up a bit, and although not really tested on defence, was effective in keeping the Raggies backs at bay.

Fred Zeilinga impressed me in the 20 minutes he was on the park, not only with his try, but also in his hunger and ability to bring down players twice his size. He is a big talent and with a bit of game time, and a bit of coaching to get the player to focus on doing the basics right first before trying the ‘Michalak’ or ‘Spencer’ passes and plays.

Disappoinments: The one name that springs to mind is that of Ryan Kankowski, his game can only be described as lethargic and one-dimensional, with Kanko not looking all that keen to get involved. He was clearly outplayed by Mthembu on the night, who seems to have upped his work rate a bit and not standing out on the wing all night.

Another who failed to impress, whether purely by a lack of ball or whether he just didn’t get stuck in enough, but Tim Whitehead would have gone completely unnoticed had Beet not told me he was on the park. He might have been a bit unlucky as the combination between Michalak and Jordaan simply did not work, but he really could have put himself out there more.

Riaan Viljoen did nothing on the night to show that he deserves the fullback jersey ahead of Louis Ludik, who I though played really well on a night that he was stuck on the Raggies side. Ludik was caught out on defence though, so I hope both these players up their game as the last line of defence.

All in all, I think all the players really put their heart in this game, and I was pleasantly surprised by the physical play that went into the breakdowns and some of the big hits that went in around the park. I was expecting a low impact run out but got full blown action. I can only commend the Sharks management team for arranging this game and opening it up to the public, as I am sure all spectators on the night left rather impressed and quite entertained.


  • I was spot-on with my prediction that the Sharks would win this game 🙂

  • Comment 1, posted at 06.02.12 08:33:28 by Franshark Reply
  • I love the idea of playing trial-games and standout players should be rewarded…

  • Comment 2, posted at 06.02.12 08:34:46 by Franshark Reply
  • @Franshark (Comment 1) : 😆

  • Comment 3, posted at 06.02.12 08:38:07 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • I hope that they use this opportunity to speak to guys like Kanko and help them to get back on track. We need everyone sharp if we want to have a serious crack at the title.

  • Comment 4, posted at 06.02.12 08:44:13 by StevieS Reply
  • Man it’s good to hear something positive about Fred Zeilinga,he was superb as a schoolboy,I still believe that no flyhalf deserved to wear the SA Schools no.10 jersey more than Fred (Johan Goosen included) after Craven Week in 2009. He was a class above all flyhalves at that Week. I hear though that he’s isn’t very good on the back-foot,hopefully the coaches can work on that,I still believe he can offer a lot

  • Comment 5, posted at 06.02.12 08:50:36 by Ludz Reply

  • Kanko not on form worries me a lot. Bench duty might fix that.

  • Comment 6, posted at 06.02.12 08:57:10 by JarsonX Reply
    Competition WinnerCompetition WinnerCompetition Winner
  • @Ludz (Comment 5) :I actually think the Sharks have shown a lot of faith in Fred. Last year he was given Vodacom Cup starts, he was fast-tracked to the u21 team and stayed in the 22-man team for the result season. He got to play in the trials. He showed a flash of individual brilliance that drew a lot of attention. Now he needs to back it up with solid performances in the respective 2012 compos. Maybe the big letdown is that he’s not challenging for a JWC u20 spot this year.
    I’d like to see him focusing more on becoming a master of the basics before aiming at the fancy stuff. For his age he’s still on track to achieve bigger things.

  • Comment 7, posted at 06.02.12 09:06:10 by beet Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • Great to hear the Meyer stepped up his game. I just hope we continue with JPP on 13 to give Meyer a chance of playing his own game and not trying to cover half the backline.

  • Comment 8, posted at 06.02.12 09:10:07 by Viking Reply
  • Oh!!! And the balss skils thing. Now there is something we did not have last year. Seems like we are starting to fill the gaps 😀

  • Comment 9, posted at 06.02.12 09:11:11 by Viking Reply
  • Looking good – really excited about this season.

    I hope they can get Kanko to gain his form again. I empathise with the bloke – he has been buggerred around by PdV who pretty much kept him out of every CC without giving him game time except for when he played him either out of position or in a team with 10+ changes. Bench duty might be good, I am certain Botes will give him tips on how to make an impact from the wood. 😛 It will also give us the chance to start with Keegs and two of the three heavy hitters (Coetzee, Deysel, Alberts).

  • Comment 10, posted at 06.02.12 09:15:03 by King Shark Reply
    King Shark
  • @Viking (Comment 9) : Handling errors were annoying the hell out of me last season…

    @Viking (Comment 8) : Meyer has the potential to be very good for the sharks – almost in the Tom Carter mold at the Waratahs. Solid without being spectacular, although MB’s versatility and ability to cover 10 could allow for some interesting interplay between him and Lambie.

  • Comment 11, posted at 06.02.12 09:17:32 by King Shark Reply
    King Shark
  • Daniel, Coetzee and Alberts 😎

  • Comment 12, posted at 06.02.12 09:19:06 by JarsonX Reply
    Competition WinnerCompetition WinnerCompetition Winner
  • @beet (Comment 7) : yeah,I do agree,the Sharks have definitely shown a lot of faith in him and think he’ll come through in a big way this year. Surely Dawie’s squad isn’t a closed squad,maybe Fred,if he has a good Vodacom Cup,could sneak back into the squad.

  • Comment 13, posted at 06.02.12 09:19:24 by Ludz Reply

  • 😈 Great to Hear Bosman seems to be ready to play! We r going to need his boot in more than one match, for sure. If he gets faster, clean ball from the loosies he will be an attacking factor – but defence, we’ll have to wait and see where his heart is at. Go JP!
    Kanko is the subject of fear. The slow down – side step is a sure sign of mentally protecting against injury. He should take a page from his captain’s playbook and hit the gaps at pace rather than attempt to brawl his way accross the gain line.
    So it seems that we are covered at centre, where we will need the old men to lead the spirited youngsters. I understand the lineouts were good from both sides? I would like to know if the props were realy good? Do we have to worry or wait for the next game? Happy about Ludick and not worried about Viljoen – it will take a couple of games to find himself in a new side.
    Although you can not read too much into a game of this nature it is great to hear that our handling was great!!
    Can’t wait for the opener! Enjoy SHARKIES! 😈

  • Comment 14, posted at 06.02.12 09:24:22 by KILLER SHARK Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
  • You’re absolutely spot on with regards to the players you have mentioned that did well.
    JP was very good, distribution needs a lot of work but his work ethic was right up there.
    Keegan was his usual self, very industrious.
    Meyer was the standout for me though, looks a totally different player with Lambie at 10 and a strong, fast 13 outside him.

    I was, however, a little disappointed a the makeup of the 2 sides.
    I dont know how Kanko was supposed to impress playig at the back of a scrum that was going backwards at a rate of knots and for all the go forward ball the Zambesis were getting, I thought Mthembu was actually very average.
    Odwa is over it as well, too slow.

    After the second chukka, I really would have liked to have seen Kankowski, Sithole, Whitehead, Jordaan etc playing behind a winning pack and with the latter two centres playing next to Lambie instead of Michalak who had a shocker.

    It was a typical trial game though with some players going out there to prove a point and as such the wings didnt feature much, other than Mvovo who looks full of running.

  • Comment 15, posted at 06.02.12 10:17:37 by John Galt Reply

    John Galt
  • @KILLER SHARK (Comment 14) : we gonna be there, and you 😉

  • Comment 16, posted at 06.02.12 11:47:06 by Franshark Reply

Add Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.