Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Round 2 of the 2017 Super Rugby competition:
1. Sharks show fight, grit
Following their Round 1 defeat to the Reds, the Sharks were underdogs heading into their clash against the Brumbies in Canberra.
And with the Brumbies leading 15-3 after 31 minutes, few would have predicted a Sharks victory.
However, 10 points in the space of two minutes saw the Sharks trail by only two points (15-13) at the break.
Having enjoyed only 33% possession in the first half, the Sharks played with renewed vigour in the second stanza, completely dominating proceedings.
At the 60-minute mark they had built up a 19-15 lead and while doing live updates on the game - I noted that for a five minute period they had enjoyed 99% of the possession!
When a Pat Lambie penalty extended their lead to 22-15 in the 64th minute, victory seemed likely.
However, the hosts managed to fight back with a try from big centre Tevita Kuridrani and were the better team in the final 10 minutes.
Brumbies substitute Isaac Thompson’s attempted drop goal in the 79th minute was the wrong option and it gave the Sharks a final chance, which they duly took when centre Lukhanyo Am collected a Curwin Bosch chip kick in behind the Brumbies defence to score.
It was a great break down the touchline from the promising Bosch, before he kicked ahead.
The win can be a season-changer for the Sharks and sets them up for a run of matches to be predominantly played at home.
They’ll now be favourites to beat the Waratahs, fresh off a 55-36 pounding by the Lions, in Durban this weekend.
2. Stormers a work in progress
The Stormers remained unbeaten in 2017 after a 32-25 win over the Jaguares at Newlands.
They are entertaining with their intent to play a running game and their set-pieces remain solid which lays the foundation to launch attacks.
However, flaws remain and it was evident in a game which they struggled to wrestle control of.
The Stormers had led 17-8 and 20-11 during the match and even when they were 27-18 up against 13 men they could not close the game out.
There are holes in the Stormers defence that need to be corrected before they tackle the Kiwi teams. It’s inexcusable that they allowed the Jaguares to score a try with only 13 men on the park.
Several handling errors from the Stormers were also a sorry sight.
I may sound negative, but too often in the past a promising start to a season by the Capetonians has petered into a season to forget.
3. Cheetahs expose Bulls
The Stormers showed it in Round 1 and the Cheetahs did it at the weekend. You can beat the Bulls if you run their massive pack ragged.
The Bulls were unable to handle the Cheetahs’ high-tempo game and were again up against it at the break (28-14).
As was the case at Newlands the previous week, the Bulls fought back in the second stanza, but it proved too little too late.
The Bulls went into the game with a 917kg forward pack - compared to the 884kgs of the Cheetahs - yet they hardly dominated up front.
Their scrum was a little better than the previous week, but still below par.
Several pundits also noted that their loose trio was almost non-existent during the match. Yes, as I’m writing this I’m having a quick scroll just to remind myself who the Bulls loosies were on Saturday night...
4. Rohan does it for late mother
Lions centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg’s mother, Renthia, sadly passed away last week.
However, the Springbok centre was adamant he wanted to play against the Waratahs at Ellis Park on Saturday.
He did so with aplomb, scoring two trademark tries as the Lions ran rampant in an eight-try demolition, winning 55-36.
Janse van Rensburg will add to his solitary Test cap if he keeps up his current form and his mother will look down with pride.
The Lions are a team not shy to express their faith and the brotherhood it forms will stand them in good stead.
5. Unfair bonus-point system
The current bonus-point system is in my opinion unfair and I would welcome a return to the old system where a team is rewarded with a bonus-point for scoring four tries.
In the current system, which was introduced last year, teams can only claim a try-scoring bonus point by scoring three tries more than the opposition.
That will almost always be the team on the winning side.
In Round 1, the Bulls - after trailing 24-0 at the break - scored four second half tries in their 37-24 defeat to the Stormers but went home empty handed.
This past weekend, the Waratahs scored five tries in their defeat to the Lions and my feeling is a team should be rewarded for scoring at least four tries.
It gives teams something to play for even when defeat is inevitable.
The current system can also be detrimental for a team in the ascendancy. A coach may be wary of taking key players off late in the game in fear of losing the three-try advantage.