S15: SA try crisis deepens
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town - The discomfort and sometimes pure ineptitude of
South African teams with ball in hand in Super Rugby is becoming more and more
apparent this year.
Statistics after the 14th round of the
competition at the weekend point all too glaringly at collective deficiencies
in the attack department.
Just for starters, New Zealand teams pulled even further
ahead of the other two nations for try-scoring: their five teams have
registered 177 between them, topped by the log-leading Hurricanes and the reawakening
Crusaders notching 41 each thus far.
The come the Australians with 139, whilst South Africa bring
up the rear with 127 - exactly 50 behind the NZ conference total.
Admittedly not helped by having a bye round in a depressing
weekend when all four other SA sides lost, the Stormers - albeit perhaps our
best shot at title glory now - slumped to bottom berth overall in the “tries
for” department (21).
That situation came about because the Reds, previously in
the basement slot on 19, came alive on Friday to register six tries in an
unexpected Brisbane romp against the Rebels and advance to a more satisfying
No South African side makes the top six for tries, with the
out-of-contention Cheetahs the country’s best in seventh (29), followed by the
Bulls and Sharks (27 each), Lions (23) and then particularly try-shy Stormers.
Four-try bonus points also go a long way to bearing out why
the SA challenge for finals series spots looks unconvincing this year: NZ sides
have scooped as many as 21 by that route (the Hurricanes’ seven the individual
standout), Aussie outfits 15 and our teams a near-paltry nine between them.
Perhaps as significantly, among the stats for individual
players, the best South African player comes in at ninth (the Stormers’ Damian
de Allende, 114) for ball-carries - leading the pack is the Waratahs’ Kurtley
Beale with 174.
Further evidence that SA players aren’t used to being
consistently in possession or on the front foot comes via the latest tackling
stats: here the country does feature an enormous lot with Lions captain Warren
Whiteley way out in front (188) and joined by six other South African hogging
the top 10.
The only exceptions are Australian Michael Hooper (Waratahs,
second to Whiteley with 139 hits), plus New Zealanders Sam Cane (Chiefs) and
Brad Shields (Hurricanes).
All of these figures suggest generally besieged, uninspiring
South African teams ...
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