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    5 talking points: Super Rugby Week 1

    2019-02-18 07:22

    Herman Mostert - Sport24

    Cape Town - Sport24's Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Week 1 of the 2019 Super Rugby competition:  

    1. Sharks make early statement

    The Sharks avoided the trap compatriots the Stormers and Bulls fell into in recent years when they comfortably dispatched the Sunwolves 45-10 on the road in Singapore.

    It was a scrappy start from the Durbanites but their strengths soon shone through as they suffocated their less-fancied opponents.

    The Sharks outclassed the Sunwolves with their traditional strengths - scrums, lineouts and driving mauls - and there were also glimpses of magic from their outside backs.

    Hooker Akker van der Merwe also kept going where he left off in last year's Currie Cup final by bagging a brace of tries. He will no doubt again prove a handful in 2019.

    2. Bulls newcomers steal the show

    When former Blitzbok speedster Rosko Specman carved open the Stormers defence for two early tries it became apparent that this was a different Bulls outfit no doubt boosted by several key additions.

    No 8 Duane Vermeulen and hooker Schalk Brits were also instrumental in the demise of the hapless Capetonians and this type of rugby should see the fans flock back to Loftus Versfeld.

    Along with new coach Pote Human and director of rugby Alan Zondagh, the Bulls may again become a force.

    3. Stormers lineout woes

    The Stormers lineout was an area of concern heading into their clash against the Bulls but not even the most optimistic Cape rugby fan would have envisioned the disaster that unfolded in this department on Saturday.

    The Stormers lost no fewer than four of their own lineouts inside the first 25 minutes and it gave them little to none go forward possession.

    Having said that, there was hardly any improvement in the rest of their game. They missed a whopping 19 tackles and never once looked like scoring a try.

    4. Lions break Buenos Aires duck

    The Lions finally got one over the Jaguares in Buenos Aires, having lost crucial games there in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

    Loose forward Marnus Schoeman, who came in for the injured Kwagga Smith, proved the Lions' unlikely hero with a hat-trick of tries.

    The men from Johannesburg will also be chuffed with the scrummaging, with debutant tighthead Carlu Sadie particularly impressive.

    Coach Swys de Bruin will also be happy with his side's defensive effort - they made more than double the amount of tackles than the Jaguares (153 v 73) and there were a few occasions the Lions fended off the hosts on their own tryline.

    5. Traffic woes, superhero jersey confusion

    The Bulls v Stormers game was delayed by 20 minutes because the Cape side's bus was stuck in traffic due to an accident on the N1.

    From their performance, it appeared as though the Stormers never got off the bus while there was also some confusion as to why they did not play in their Marvel-themed Thor outfits.

    It was said beforehand that the South African teams would wear their Marvel-themed jerseys for all local derbies, but the Stormers did not follow the script at Loftus.

    Tournament sponsors Vodacom expressed their disappointment on Twitter and it appears some issues with their own sponsor, DHL, caused the Stormers to opt otherwise.

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    Fixtures

    Sunday, 24 March 2019
    • Reds v Brumbies, Suncorp Stadium 07:05
    Friday, 29 March 2019
    • Hurricanes v Crusaders, Westpac Stadium 08:35
    • Waratahs v Sunwolves, McDonald Jones Stadium 10:45
    Saturday, 30 March 2019
    • Blues v Stormers, Eden Park 08:35
    • Reds v Rebels, Suncorp Stadium 10:45
    • Sharks v Bulls, Jonsson Kings Park Stadium 15:05
    • Jaguares v Chiefs, Estadio Jose Amalfitani 23:40

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    • Sharks (wc)
    • Stormers (wc)
    • Bulls (wc)
    • Jaguares

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