Sharks, Brumbies kick-a-thon
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – Statistics from the latest round of Super Rugby indicate the alarming extent to which the top two sides in the competition at the time, the Sharks and Brumbies, kicked the leather off the ball in their Canberra snore-fest.
Saturday’s soggy conditions hardly helped to create a spectacle, but the contest was particularly grim and characterised primarily by the strong desire of each side to induce mistakes out of the other rather than truly “have a go” themselves.
So a tactical stalemate ensued, hardly aided by the fact that the Brumbies did their level best to unravel their former coach Jake White’s likely strategy, and White had probably spent a fair bit of pre-match time in his Sharks shirt wondering if there was any way at all that he could catch them by surprise.
Vodacom-issued stats from round 13 have three players from the game – won 16-9 by the hosts – at the top of the “kicks from hand” weekend category from all seven matches played.
It is led by the Brumbies’ fullback Jesse Mogg (21), followed by Sharks flyhalf Frans Steyn (17) and then his counterpart Matt Toomua (11), although the last-named player shares that tally with two Crusaders players in Andy Ellis and Israel Dagg.
The in-form ‘Saders are the Sharks’ next opponents in Christchurch on Saturday.
In Brisbane, of course, many of the Crusaders’ kicks from hand were presumably employed constructively as they won a 10-try spectacle (ratio 6-4 in their favour) 57-29 against the Reds.
But there was just one try in Canberra, and the combined total of kicks from Messrs Mogg, Steyn and Toomua comes to a formidable 49 – there would have been plenty more from other players on the park over the course of the tedious 80 minutes and a total of 93 has been given by some sources.
A bit of consolation for the Sharks, and perhaps also currently disgruntled supporters of the South African teams in general, is that Lwazi Mvovo, one sharp instrument in a fairly blunt Sharks toolbox at present, holds one of two SA slots in the top five for metres run thus far in the campaign.
He is fifth on 739, whilst leader Willie le Roux of the ailing Cheetahs – still committed to helter-skelter attack but desperately vulnerable whenever opponents get into their own danger zone – leads the pack with 939.
His nearest rival is the Highlanders’ slippery Ben Smith (825).
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