Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Round 2 of the 2016 Super Rugby competition:
1. Lions growing from strength to strength
The Lions’ first ever win over the Chiefs in Hamilton was welcome to see from a South African point of view.
With their attacking style of play, in which they beat the Kiwis at their own game, the Lions paved the way for the rest of the South African franchises.
For too long now have we seen South African teams grind out wins and hopefully the rest of the country takes to the style employed by Johan Ackermann’s charges.
Nick Mallett summed it up pretty well in the SuperSport studio afterwards:
“For two years, the Lions have been my favourite team in South Africa. They have the ability not only to play with width, but play at pace. They have a flyhalf in Elton Jantjies who controls the rhythm of the game and the scrumhalf Faf de Klerk is absolutely brilliant,” said Mallett.
“The skills levels of this Lions team are well above our other franchise players and the reasons for it is consistency of selection, the same two coaches (Johan Ackermann and Swys de Bruin), a captain in Warren Whiteley who everyone supports and a very good squad in which they apply the rotation policy well.”
2. Bulls still a bit bumbling
Don’t get me wrong, the Bulls showed lots of promise in their 45-25 win over the Rebels in Pretoria.
However, the manner in which they threw away the bonus point after leading 42-3 in the second half was inexcusable.
According to the new rules, a team must score three tries more than the opposition in order to gain a bonus point and when the Bulls’ tally stood at 6-0, it seemed a given.
However, they took their foot off the pedal and allowed the Rebels to score four times which cost them a bonus point.
As Mallett noted afterwards, it could have been a different game had Rebels flank Adam Thomson not knocked the ball on over the goal-line earlier in the match when the Rebels played with some gusto.
3. Potent lock partnership for the Stormers
Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit are fast forming a formidable lock partnership for the Stormers and the duo played a key role in their undoing of the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
The game was won due to the Cape side’s domination at lineout time. Etzebeth stole four Cheetahs lineouts, while Du Toit and JD Shickerling stole as many.
It robbed the Cheetahs of any momentum and left their Springbok lock Lood de Jager cutting a frustrated figure, so much so that he was yellow carded for a high tackle on Du Toit in the 48th minute.
4. Scrum battle in Bloem
While they struggled at lineout time, the Cheetahs were more potent against the Stormers at scrum time.
Loosehead Charles Marais was particularly impressive and caused Vincent Koch all sorts of problems.
Koch struggled against the Bulls the previous week as well, but the Stormers will take heart from the fact that loosehead Oli Kebble was more steady.
The Stormers added more grunt to their scrum in the second period when Frans Malherbe and JC Janse van Rensburg came on and they will be pleased by their depth in that department.
5. Joe Pietersen a great find for Sharks
Over the years, the Sharks have made a habit of buying players from the Cheetahs and they should feel particularly chuffed by the recruitment of Joe Pietersen.
With captain and frontline flyhalf Pat Lambie sidelined with injury, Pietersen has showed that the Sharks shouldn’t have many problems there during their skipper’s absence.
Against the Jaguares on Saturday night, Pietersen impressed with his handling skills, nifty footwork and tactical kicking, while his goal-kicking was equally impressive.
Jean-Luc du Preez was given the official man-of-the-match award, but Pietersen was my standout player at Kings Park.