SA teams struggling for tries
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – The South African conference in Super Rugby currently
boasts the worst record of the three groups for total tries scored ... but the
best for preventing them.
The halfway mark of the ordinary season will be reached next
weekend for the vast majority of teams in the competition, who will make their
eighth appearances of the 16 to be completed ahead of the knockout stage.
At this stage, the SA conference sports a total of 73 tries,
which is nine down on the Australian one (82), and as many as 24 behind the New
Zealand conference (97).
Slightly more comforting news is that between them the five
South African franchises have leaked the fewest: only 78 as opposed to the NZ
81 and the Aussie 93.
The stats are likely to fuel domestic critics who suspect
our culture, generally, remains to be too obsessed with taking the ball into
contact when in possession, rather than probing for holes or bringing outside
backs into regular play, and also putting in large amounts of “heavy hits” on
defence, which can be tiring and carry an extra risk of injury.
At least two of the traditionally more competitive SA sides
in Super Rugby, the Sharks and Stormers, have unenviable injury tallies at
present – they were at well less than full strength respectively in last
weekend’s Newlands derby, won 22-15 by the home team.
Also to consider is that although the Sharks still boss the
conference and stand third on the overall table under tourney rules, they are
actually placed a mere fifth (on 26 points) for log points earned – behind all
of the Brumbies (33), Reds (31), Chiefs (29) and Blues (27).
The Durban-based team, despite their conference superiority,
also stand alongside compatriots the Stormers and Bulls for showing the worst
“tries for” record of all 15 teams: 13 each from seven matches.
Even glaring wooden-spoonists the Highlanders, yet to win a
game, have managed 14 touch-downs, whilst surprise packages the Kings are also
comfortably ahead of the supposed “SA big three” in that department with 16.
New Zealand pace-setters the Chiefs and Blues lead the
try-scoring charge with 23 each.
Always among the best organised sides defensively these
days, the Stormers (though still only 11th overall) continue to
shine for keeping opponents out – they lead the way with only nine tries
against them, closely followed by the Sharks on 10.
Try-scoring “for and
against” ratios by South African teams, from top conference team to bottom:
1 Sharks: 13-10
2 Cheetahs: 18-19
3 Bulls: 13-16
4 Stormers 13-9
5 Kings 16-24
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