5 talking points: Super Rugby Week 13
Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Round 13 of the 2018 Super Rugby competition:
1. Lions tour ends in failure
The Lions’ 39-27 loss to the Highlanders in Dunedin saw them end their four-game Australasian tour with three defeats.
The tour had started positively with a commanding 29-0 win over the Waratahs but an unexpected loss to the Reds the following week had put a spanner in the works ahead of the New Zealand leg.
The Lions still lead the South African Conference but have now lost (6) as many games as they have won.
They are by no means assured of top spot and more worrisome is they appear to be struggling without key stalwarts up front.
It’s clear that the Lions are missing the influence of Warren Whiteley, Malcolm Marx and Jaco Kriel...
2. Stormers humbled at scrum time
The foundation for the Chiefs’ 15-9 win over the Stormers at Newlands was laid at scrum time.
The hosts were expected to dominate in this department, especially given that the Chiefs were missing a few experienced campaigners in the front row.
But the opposite transpired as the visiting side surprised the Stormers by winning several scrum penalties, including a decisive late penalty try.
The Stormers were unhappy with a few of the scrum penalties they conceded but can have no complaints about the penalty try - they were on their own tryline and clearly going backwards at a rate of knots.
The Stormers need to stop talking about how powerful their scrum is if they are going to get caught with their pants down in this department every other week.
It cost them dearly in the loss to the Bulls in Pretoria earlier in the season and even in last week’s derby win at Newlands they conceded as many as four scrum penalties.
3. Stormers lacked attacking impetus
Despite their loss to the Chiefs, Stormers coach Robbie Fleck was quick to laud his team’s defence, saying it was their best defensive effort of the season.
Fleck should instead pay more attention to why it hardly looked like his team could cross the whitewash.
The Stormers lacked impetus on attack and their tactical play also left much to be desired.
The problem started with scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage, who had another horror game from the base of the scrum.
Duvenage put his team under pressure numerous times with poorly executed box kicks into no-man’s land.
His delivery was painfully slow and it never allowed the home side any go forward momentum.
4. Bosch trips up Sharks
Sharks fullback Curwin Bosch thought he had given his side the lead early in their game against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.
However, Bosch’s try was cancelled after television match official (TMO) Marius Jonker stepped in and correctly informed referee Rasta Rasivhenge that Bosch had tripped his opposite number Warrick Gelant in the build-up.
The try was disallowed and Bosch was sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes.
During his absence the Bulls had built a 12-0 lead and were in the ascendancy.
Bosch scored a legitimate try when he returned to the field but I hope he realises that his misdemeanour proved vital and swung the momentum of the game.
5. Man-of-the-match in a losing cause!
It’s not often that the man-of-the-match accolade goes to a player from the losing side but that was the case in Saturday’s Bulls-Sharks derby.
Sharks hooker Akker van der Merwe stepped up to the plate, impressing as a ball carrier and also with his ability to win turnovers.
With star Springbok hooker Malcolm Marx sidelined with injury, the door is open for a few hookers to stake a claim for higher honours.
Van der Merwe may just be in the plans of Bok coach Rassie Erasmus...