5 talking points: Super Rugby - Week 2

    2019-02-25 07:48
    Eben Etzebeth
    The Stormers welcomed the return of Eben Etzebeth to their engine room... (Gallo Images)

    Herman Mostert - Sport24

    Cape Town - Sport24's Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Week 2 of the 2019 Super Rugby competition:  

    1. Staunch Sharks defence keeps Blues at bay

    The Sharks started like a house on fire by taking an early 12-0 lead against the Blues at Kings Park.

    Leading 19-0 at half-time, the Sharks went a bit into their shells in the second period and spent large parts of the half defending.

    But they did so manfully by keeping the Kiwi side to just a solitary try after they had camped in or near the Sharks 22m area for large parts.

    Statistics derived post-game indicate that the Sharks were forced to make a whopping 140 tackles compared to the 78 of the Blues.

    To emerge with a bonus-point victory would have pleased head coach Robert du Preez and it appears the Durbanites will be the early pace-setters in the South African Conference.

    2. Etzebeth back with a bang

    Stormers lock Eben Etzebeth was instrumental when he entered the fray with 26 official minutes left on the clock in his side's encounter against the Lions at Newlands.

    The Stormers had trailed for the entire afternoon, before snatching a late try to sneak what earlier seemed an unlikely win.

    Etzebeth, the Bok enforcer, was vital to their revival. He added some much-needed physical presence and helped his side gain much needed go-forward possession.

    Etzebeth has been luckless with injuries in Super Rugby over the years and Stormers (and Springbok) fans will hope he goes largely injury-free in 2019.

    3. Referee in the spotlight at Newlands

    There was mayhem towards the end of the Stormers v Lions match in which the hosts scored an 87th minute try to snatch victory.

    Several Lions fans took to social media to express their dismay at referee Egon Seconds. They questioned how a former Stormers player could be allowed to referee his former team at Newlands.

    I felt there were several incidents in these frantic few minutes where both sides could have arguments for and against.

    As has been widely reported, there was an incident where many felt Lions hooker Malcolm Marx should have won his side a penalty at ruck time.

    The Stormers will also argue why no yellow card was dished out to Lionel Mapoe for a tip tackle on Eben Etzebeth, while the hosts will also raise questions as to why Lions flank Marnus Schoeman was allowed back on after spending no more than eight minutes in the sin-bin.

    It was an exciting finish to a somewhat dull game and the Lions will feel they should have sealed the result much earlier... instead of blaming the referee...

    4. More superhero kit confusion

    There was more confusion with the superhero kit jerseys supposed to be worn for all South African derbies.

    Tournament sponsors Vodacom expressed disappointment when the Stormers failed to run out in their 'Thor' kit against the Bulls in Week 1.

    On Saturday, they were clad in their heavily-marketed strips when they took to the field against the 'Spider-Man' Lions.

    There was immediate confusion, however, with viewers at home taking to social media to express their struggles in distinguishing between the sides.

    The result was that the Stormers had to change kits at half-time, going back to the kit they used against the Bulls last weekend.

    The question I'll ask is: Is it so hard for organisers to get things right pre-season?

    5. Bulls away woes continue

    The Bulls' disappointing 27-12 reverse to the Jaguares was a stark contrast to their 40-3 annihilation of the Stormers the previous week.

    I had the sneaky feeling that the Bulls would head into the clash over-confident. Their big win over the Stormers was achieved against a team that simply weren't at the races in any aspect of the game. It was perhaps the worst Stormers performance since their 75-14 loss to the Bulls in 2005.

    The Bulls didn't adapt well enough to the wet conditions and their away record in recent years is very poor: they have won only two of their last 17 matches on the road.

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    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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