Tries drying up for SA sides
Cape Town – South African teams in Super Rugby 2015 are
starting to fall behind in try-scoring terms.
Between them, the country’s five franchises have notched 48
dot-downs in the first six rounds of ordinary season, leaving them some way off
the New Zealand sides (60) and Australians (59).
In team terms, the Brumbies head the pack with 19 tries,
followed by the Crusaders (16) and then a three-way tie in third between the
Hurricanes, Chiefs and Waratahs (14).
It is only thereafter, in sixth, that a South African team first
appears in the form of the Sharks (13), although they could not cross the
whitewash in their 13-man hang-in act to pip the Chiefs after an
incident-filled clash at Kings Park on Saturday marked by red cards for both
captain Bismarck du Plessis and Frans Steyn.
Instead the game gave Pat Lambie the opportunity to maintain
his tight duel off the kicking tee with compatriot Handré Pollard of the Bulls
– the former’s four penalties boosted his season tally to 90 points, just two
adrift of his Bok squad-mate on 92.
These two are some way ahead of the competition’s next best
points-scorer, the Chiefs’ Aaron Cruden on 60, and while it is comforting that
South Africa’s best two pivots are landing their penalties – and sometimes
conversions – so reliably, in some ways it only highlights the fact that teams
in the SA conference are struggling for creativity in try-manufacturing terms.
Frankly, a listless and clumsy, blundering Bulls team were
fortunate to steal their home game at the death against the moderate Force at
the weekend, being outscored by three to one in tries at Loftus – their only
touchdown was of the crude pushover variety from tighthead prop Marcel van der
Pollard’s 20-point haul, including six penalties, made the
key difference in a 25-24 outcome.
While it was true that three of the four South African sides
in action at the weekend earned victories over overseas-based opponents, all
three matches could just as easily have gone the other way.
The Lions’ saving grace in another gutsy triumph in
Melbourne – their second on tour – was notching two easy-on-the-eye tries,
although once again their performance will be remembered more for the humungous
work-rate on defence of the likes of Warren Whiteley and Warwick Tecklenburg.
These two loose forwards are among the top five tacklers in
Super Rugby after round six, with captain courageous Whiteley having moved to
the front on 94.
Next come the Bulls’ Lappies Labuschagne (76), followed by
Tecklenburg (75), odd-man-out in the Brumbies’ Jarrad Butler (72) and then yet
another South African in the Sharks’ Marcell Coetzee (69).
It suggests that too many SA teams are struggling to keep
the ball for long phases of play and being too stretched defensively as a
In the “carries” category, no South African appears until
Lambie, in joint-10th with Waratahs flyhalf counterpart Bernard
A shaft of light is the presence of livewire Sharks
scrumhalf Cobus Reinach, however, at the top of the clean breaks department
alongside James Lowe (Chiefs) and Julian Savea (Hurricanes) on 11 each.
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