5 talking points: Super Rugby Week 10
Cape Town - Sport24 highlights 5 talking points after Round 10's action of Super Rugby.
1. Major Stormers weapon
It’s pretty safe to say that the Stormers scrum is the strongest its ever been in the franchise’s history.
They managed an ugly 13-6 win over a dull Western Force outfit in Perth at the weekend, seemingly playing with one foot on the plane and allowing the Force to draw them down to their level.
However, the Stormers' dominance at scrum time was evident for all to see, with the only try of the game coming via a penalty try after the Capetonians pummelled the Force set piece in front of the uprights.
2. Kolbe deserves plaudits
After the Stormers’ loss to the Highlanders in their first match on tour, fullback Cheslin Kolbe copped heavy criticism.
Kolbe is one of the smallest players in the competition and his size was a big talking point after giant Highlanders wing Waisake Naholo ran straight over him to score one of his two tries.
But Kolbe has responded well over the last two weeks. He scored a scintillating 70m try against the Waratahs in Sydney and impressed this writer with his all-round game against the Force at the weekend. It’s amazing how Kolbe almost always beats the first oncoming defender.
Apart from his attacking prowess, he is not afraid to take contact, he employs great technique at the breakdown, is sound under the high ball and is not the competition’s worst defender.
It’s unlikely he’ll get picked by Heyneke Meyer for the Springboks (he may need to shift to scrumhalf for that to happen) but Kolbe does have a future in the game at Super Rugby level.
3. Brussow injury
Following their narrow 18-17 loss to the Reds at home, the Cheetahs season is in disarray. And it’s been made worse with the news that flank Heinrich Brussow has broken his arm.
He left the field in the 14th minute of the match at the Free State Stadium and his absence will be dearly felt. He is likely to miss the remainder of the Super Rugby season.
The Cheetahs will lose a key cog on defence as well as a menace on the ground. They’ll finish last in the South African conference.
4. Missing sitters at goal
How often do we see goal-kickers miss sitters at this level of the game? It appears to happen too often for my liking. A few weeks ago, Force flyhalf Sias Ebersohn shanked a ball from right in front which cost his team dearly against the Sharks in Durban.
There were two instances this past weekend where easy kicks at goal cost teams.
Sharks flyhalf Fred Zeilinga missed a relatively easy three-pointer in the first half of their clash against the Bulls. At that stage, the Sharks were leading 3-0 and while a 6-0 advantage may not have sealed victory, it could have turned momentum in the home side’s favour. Not long afterwards, the Bulls scored a long-range try via wing Francois Hougaard which swung the pendulum in their favour.
Cheetahs flyhalf Joe Pietersen’s last-gasp miss against the Reds was also inexcusable. It was an easy kick and at this level, misses like that should not occur, especially not when your team is desperate for victory.
5. SA conference 'final'
With the Stormers and Bulls both winning this past weekend, their upcoming clash at Newlands on Saturday will go a long way in determining the South African conference winner.
The Bulls currently top the standings with 28 points, with the Stormers narrowly behind on 26 points.
But the Bulls still have to tour Australasia and only two of their final seven encounters are at home. The Stormers, on the other hand, play five of their remaining seven matches at home.
A home win for the Capetonians on Saturday should see them win the South African conference.