SA teams struggling for tries

    2013-04-15 12:12

    Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

    Cape Town – The South African conference in Super Rugby currently boasts the worst record of the three groups for total tries scored ... but the best for preventing them.

    The halfway mark of the ordinary season will be reached next weekend for the vast majority of teams in the competition, who will make their eighth appearances of the 16 to be completed ahead of the knockout stage.

    At this stage, the SA conference sports a total of 73 tries, which is nine down on the Australian one (82), and as many as 24 behind the New Zealand conference (97).

    Slightly more comforting news is that between them the five South African franchises have leaked the fewest: only 78 as opposed to the NZ 81 and the Aussie 93.

    The stats are likely to fuel domestic critics who suspect our culture, generally, remains to be too obsessed with taking the ball into contact when in possession, rather than probing for holes or bringing outside backs into regular play, and also putting in large amounts of “heavy hits” on defence, which can be tiring and carry an extra risk of injury.

    At least two of the traditionally more competitive SA sides in Super Rugby, the Sharks and Stormers, have unenviable injury tallies at present – they were at well less than full strength respectively in last weekend’s Newlands derby, won 22-15 by the home team.

    Also to consider is that although the Sharks still boss the conference and stand third on the overall table under tourney rules, they are actually placed a mere fifth (on 26 points) for log points earned – behind all of the Brumbies (33), Reds (31), Chiefs (29) and Blues (27).

    The Durban-based team, despite their conference superiority, also stand alongside compatriots the Stormers and Bulls for showing the worst “tries for” record of all 15 teams: 13 each from seven matches.

    Even glaring wooden-spoonists the Highlanders, yet to win a game, have managed 14 touch-downs, whilst surprise packages the Kings are also comfortably ahead of the supposed “SA big three” in that department with 16.

    New Zealand pace-setters the Chiefs and Blues lead the try-scoring charge with 23 each.

    Always among the best organised sides defensively these days, the Stormers (though still only 11th overall) continue to shine for keeping opponents out – they lead the way with only nine tries against them, closely followed by the Sharks on 10.

    Try-scoring “for and against” ratios by South African teams, from top conference team to bottom:

    1 Sharks: 13-10

     2 Cheetahs:  18-19

    3 Bulls: 13-16

    4 Stormers 13-9

    5 Kings 16-24

    *Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

    Read More On:  supe rugby rugby

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