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Sharks player ratings v Blue Bulls


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 22 Sep 2014 at 09:50
Tagged with : , , , , , , ,

Let’s have a look at the individual performances after the game against the Blue Bulls, which resulted in four valuable points at Loftus for the Sharks.

The team overall

The coaches are understandably very chuffed about the result – as are we all, given just how long it’s been since we last won. Calling it an “80-minute performance”, though, is wide of the mark and shows just how short memories can be. My assessment is that we played incredibly well for 40 minutes, after another very poor start. Lwazi Mvovo’s intercept try at the end of the first period may have given the illusion of respectability, but hardly resulted in a half-time scoreline that accurately reflected play. Not that we should take anything away from the second half, though, in which the Sharks produced easily the best rugby we’ve yet seen this campaign.

Avoiding any “game of two halves” cliches, let’s rate the Sharks as “above average” for the game as a whole, while recognising that there is still work to do. A true 80-minute performance remains some way off and is exactly the sort of thing that will be needed to record away victories against the real competition big guns.

The star performers

While there were a number of really strong individual performances on the day, I’d like to single out blind side flank Etienne Oosthuizen for special praise. As a recent convert to the back row, many have questioned Oosthuizen’s aptitude for the role, but at Loftus, he was incredible. With a few too many slipped individual tackles the only blight on an otherwise fine game, Oosthuizen delivered a truly massive work rate, not only hitting more rucks than any other player, but also securing vital turnovers at crucial points throughout the contest. He certainly has more work to do if he’s to become a regular in this position, but on Saturday, delivered the sort of performance to announce his arrival as a real contender, perhaps even on a higher stage.

The overachievers

Here are the players that I’d say performed above expectation on Saturday, in no particular order:
Marco Wentzel – masterminded some crucial lineout steals and was a key man both on attack, where he ensured continuity and on defence, with 13 good tackles and none missed.
Tera Mtembu – massive work rate and really stepped up as a leader this week, while showing plenty of toughness as the Bulls seemed to target him with rough play. Tera has some amazing skills and often saves situations that look otherwise rather desperate by doing something unexpected.
Cameron Wright – the speedy, (mostly) accurate service that we saw from him earlier in the campaign was back and with the surfeit of front-foot ball, Lionel Cronje was able to pull the strings in the second half. Wright did throw a shocker or two, but he was vastly improved on his most recent showings.
Lionel Cronje – given where he was last week, this was a truly impressive showing, with two easy penalty misses taking the gloss off to an extent. Cronje dictated play, took the ball flat and fast and showed great variation in his play. The cross-kick that found S’bura Sithole for the second try was a heart-in-mouth moment that worked perfectly, but there were plenty of other occasions where Cronje used creative play to unlock a Sharks backline that has otherwise looked very flat this year.
Andre Esterhuizen – gets the nod this week based on his defence. Andre made mistakes again, but you cannot fault a defensive effort that includes 17 good tackles (the most in the match).

Performing to expectation

The guys below earn a pass mark:
Kyle Cooper - harsh to have him here after some lovely work in the loose that included a few bullocking runs. Cooper pays the price, along with the other members of the front row club, for some poor set piece work, particularly in the first half. He’d be in the group above had it not been for a few lineout misses.
Lourens Adriaanse – about the same as Cooper. A high work rate, but loses a point or two for the way the scrums went, even if I suspect opposite number Grelying was guilty of some inward scrummaging at times.
Jacques Botes – again put in a workmanlike performance.
Lwazi Mvovo – didn’t get anywhere near the ball for 38 minutes, then scored a cracking try in the 39th with his first touch. Lwazi had a stronger second half, but we’ll need to see more magic for his rating to improve.
S’bura Sithole – pretty much the same as Mvovo. Scored a lovely try, but we want to see more consistent involvement and a little bit more variety when he does carry. Can’t shake the feeling that he’s wasted at wing.
SP Marais – A solid game at fullback, where he wasn’t asked to do too much defensively. Carried nicely on attack, made good decisions and added two superb long penalty goals as his special contribution. On the cusp of the next group up and it’s wonderful to see his comeback in action.

All of the subs used, Danie Mienie, Franco Marais, Khaya Majola and Hanco Venter performed well enough in my view. We’d like to see more of all of them. Marais, in particular, is an exciting player and made one crucial breakdown steal during his time on the park.

Needing a bit of work

I’d like to call out specific aspects of the following players’ performances, which I feel are in need of some improvement ahead of next week:
Dale Chadwick - work rate was a bit lower than usual, but it was a bad day at the coal face for the Westville old boy, with Werner Kruger appearing to properly have his number at scrum time.
JC Astle – pulled off a few good lineout takes against the throw in the second half, but the overall level of effort wasn’t high enough for a 4-lock. JC went “missing”, with fewer involvements than any other forward on the day, while his defensive work was also rather suspect, missing too many one-on-one tackles.
Paul Jordaan – there’s a real tendency to “go it alone” on attack, with Jordaan frequently embarking on long wandering runs from touchline to touchline that ultimately achieved very little. His lack of linking play has long been a concern, but when he doesn’t have space to work with, Jordaan should stick to the script, rather than going to ridiculous lengths to try to create some. Was better in the second half, admittedly.



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