Bulls, Sharks equal for lineouts

    2014-03-18 23:51
    Pieter-Steph du Toit (Gallo Images)

    Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

    Cape Town – The Bulls and Sharks, who meet in an attractive Super Rugby derby at Loftus on Saturday, have identical, high-ranking statistics for lineout efficiency this season.

    According to latest stats issued on the official website, the two SA conference sides are joint second-best for lineout “success percentage” at 91.7% each.

    That places them only adrift of last season’s beaten finalists the Brumbies, who top the table at 94.9% as they prepare to face the currently struggling Stormers in Canberra.

    It is just another reason to look forward to the rapid second-time encounter in 2014 between Frans Ludeke and Jake White’s charges in Pretoria (19:10 kickoff).

    The overall log-leading Sharks won 31-16 at Kings Park in mid-February, although the Bulls are busy making up ground determinedly now after their shaky start.

    On the earlier occasion, the Bulls were only just beginning to filter back Victor Matfield, one of the world’s best ever lineout specialists, from his retirement and he joined the fray in the second half – he has since been starting anew for the three-time champions and looking more convincing with every appearance.

    The Sharks have also suffered a hefty blow since the first encounter with their own emerging No 5, Pieter-Steph du Toit, cruelly sidelined for the rest of the year with an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

    Saturday should see the Bulls field Matfield and Flip van der Merwe in their second row, with lineout support at the back coming from Jacques du Plessis and another returning favourite in Dewald Potgieter.

    The Sharks are likely to stick with the lock alliance of Anton Bresler and the raw but promising stringbean Stephan Lewies in Du Toit’s place again at No 5, with spring-heeled Ryan Kankowski leading their lineout charge on deeper throw-ins.

    Of the remaining South African teams for lineout competence, if the figures are to be believed, the Cheetahs come in eighth overall at present (83.1%), the Lions ninth (82.9), and the Stormers a poor 11th by their standards (81.0).

    Apart from sacrificing 2.07m giant Andries Bekker to Japan this season, the Capetonians have a major injury crisis in their second row which has probably had some effect on lineout efficiency.

    *Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing
    Read More On:  bulls sharks super 15 cape town rugby

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