5 talking points: Super Rugby Week 12
Cape Town - Sport24 highlights 5 talking points after Round 12's action of Super Rugby:
1. If the Sharks didn't have the rolling maul, they'd have nothing
Gary Gold’s first season as Sharks mentor is fast turning into an ‘annus horribilis’.
They were mauled 48-15 by the Highlanders in their first game on tour last Friday. But it was more the manner in which the Durbanites played that was so disturbing.
It appears their only method of attack is via the driving maul off a lineout.
There’s no skill out wide, with the passing and catching skills of an embarrassing nature. Gold promised his side would play a more attractive brand after Jake White copped criticism last year, but the Sharks class of 2015 has most definitely taken a step backwards.
2. Kurt Coleman's misses
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee made a tactical substitution when he replaced Kurt Coleman with Demetri Catrakilis at half-time in their 25-17 loss to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
It was a decision which backfired as Coleman missed no fewer than FOUR very kickable penalty attempts that would in all likelihood won the game for the Stormers, who did well to fight back from 18-3 down to trail by only one point.
Catrakilis has succeeded with his last 27 attempts at goal, and had he stayed on the park, the Stormers would surely have won.
I can understand Coetzee’s decision to bring Coleman on. He is more of an attacking threat and they were chasing the game, but making the substitution as early as half-time was not the right call. The Stormers were only eight points down at the break and still in the game.
3. Poor skills from Stormers
Aside from Coleman’s poor goal-kicking, the skills levels of the Stormers players were worrisome for a team at the top of the SA Conference before the weekend’s action.
The Cheetahs’ ball retention and handling were far superior to that of their Cape opponents, who butchered several attempts to cross the whitewash.
Siya Kolisi was over the line only to see winger Rayno Benjamin rip the ball from his grasp. A player of his size and stature should know how to possession himself accordingly in such a scenario.
Also, several promising chances out wide went begging for the Stormers - either via poor handling or passing.
Cheslin Kolbe seemed certain to dot down late in the game, but knocked on after Dillyn Leyds’s ill-directed low pass to the ground.
In general, the skills level of the SA players lag far behind their New Zealand counterparts. A clear example of this was the Hurricanes v Crusaders game in Wellington on Saturday where both teams impressed with enterprising and accurate displays while attacking.
4. Lions no longer also-rans
The Lions are no longer the whipping boys of South African rugby. When the Bulls led 12-0 early on in their clash at Loftus Versfeld, this writer feared the worst for the men from Johannesburg.
However, they again surprised by hitting back and should really have won the game when they led 26-25 in the second half.
Had coach Johan Ackermann not taken his front row off towards the end of the game, the Lions would in all likelihood have upset the odds.
5. Bulls can attack
The Bulls again bagged a four-try bonus point this past weekend and showed that they have the potential to play a more expansive game.
Nick Mallett afterwards noted the variety they brought into their game against the Lions and it’s time coach Frans Ludeke allows his players to express themselves more.
They have some talented outside backs and employing a kick-first strategy will undermine the potential some of their players possess.