5 talking points: Super Rugby Week 11
Cape Town - Sport24 highlights 5 talking points after Round 11's action of Super Rugby:
1. Dean Greyling was dominated
It’s fair to say that Bulls loosehead prop Dean Greyling was absolutely ‘murdered’ at scrum time in his side’s 15-13 loss to the Stormers at Newlands.
Greyling was dominated by Frans Malherbe and conceded four first half penalties that resulted in 12 points for the Stormers.
Greyling was substituted after 56 minutes but the damage was done.
2. Needlessly kicking possession away
I spotted two mishaps from prominent Bulls players that could so easily have swayed the outcome of their 15-13 loss.
Flyhalf Handre Pollard is no doubt a talented player and will play many more Test matches for the Boks. However, his tactical kicking still needs work and I noted a very needless kick which cost his team.
In the second half of the clash at Newlands, the Bulls seemed to have the ascendancy and were growing in confidence.
They were attacking inside the Stormers 22m area, setting up seven phases of attack. The ball went wide to Pollard who - obviously thinking not much was on - decided to kick an up-and-under.
An up-and-under inside the opposition’s 22, and that after only seven phases of attack?! More patience on attack should have been displayed as Cheslin Kolbe easily took a mark allowing the Stormers off the hook.
Fullback Jesse Kriel’s decision to put boot to ball with time already up on the clock was equally bemusing.
It’s really frustrating to see possession kicked away so aimlessly in South African rugby.
3. Cheetahs saying ‘no thanks’ for the lead
The Cheetahs’ option to not go for goal late in their 34-29 loss against the Lions in Johannesburg proved costly.
The men from Bloemfontein looked down and out, trailing 24-10 in the second half, but rebounded to level matters with two well worked tries.
Momentum appeared to be on their side when they won a kickable penalty in the 67th minute. However, instead of kicking for goal and regaining the lead with time running out, the Cheetahs opted for a lineout. From there, centre Francois Venter knocked the ball on, before the Lions won a scrum penalty to get out of jail.
Three minutes later, the hosts won a kickable penalty, which Elton Jantjies kicked to put them back in front.
When will teams start to understand the value of tacking points on offer? First get in front, then try further surge ahead…
4. Vermeulen charge down
Stormers captain Duane Vermeulen saved the day for his side when he charged down a drop kick attempt from Bulls flyhalf Handre Pollard in the 79th minute.
A careful watch of the replay shows that Pollard’s attempt was on target and would have won the game for the Bulls.
Vermeulen’s physical impact on the game is well documented, but it was impressive to see him add another dimension to his play. Things like that cannot be coached…
5. North-South derby
The clash between the Lions and Cheetahs may have been more of a spectacle, but the Stormers v Bulls clash was proof that the North-South derby is still the biggest occasion on the South African rugby calendar.
It was a Test-like atmosphere at Newlands as a near 48 000 capacity crowd watched the home side sneak a 15-13 victory.
The pressure was intense, which may explain the 34 (17 apiece) handling errors committed by both teams and only one try being scored.
There’s no doubt the skills levels of some of the players can improve, but after Saturday’s game it’s hard to believe that the popularity of the game is dwindling in South Africa…