5 talking points: Super Rugby Week 3
Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Round 3 of the 2018 Super Rugby competition:
1. Stormers show some fight, but...
When the Crusaders raced to a 26-0 lead inside the first quarter of their match against the Stormers in Christchurch, one would have been forgiven for thinking things would turn out really ugly for the Cape side.
But the opposite transpired as the Stormers responded with four tries and despite losing 45-28, they’ll be buoyed by the fact that they actually ‘won’ the final 60 minutes, 28-19.
But we all know a rugby match is played over 80 minutes and the Stormers’ comeback effort should not blind their obvious shortcomings.
The Stormers’ defensive frailties were again badly exposed - they leaked seven tries and slipped no fewer than 32 tackles.
Their lineout again malfunctioned - losing five of your own throw-ins simply won’t cut it against a Kiwi side.
2. Sharks let slip golden opportunity
The Sharks will rue not putting the Waratahs away in their 24-all draw at Kings Park.
There were many positives to take for the home side - Springbok Lukhanyo Am’s two tries were classical centre tries. The manner in which he straightened the line on both occasions was a welcome sight.
However, this is a game the Sharks should have won comfortably and it may come back to bite them later in the season.
The same old humidity excuse was again used for several dropped balls while a few moments of madness - like Keegan Daniel’s attempted quick throw-in to himself which ended in a Waratahs try - would have frustrated coach Robert du Preez.
It’s no wonder Du Preez was not in the best of moods at the post-game press conference.
3. Mostert shines at flank for Lions
The Lions’ decision to move Springbok lock Franco Mostert to No 7 flank paid dividends in their 49-35 win over the Bulls in Pretoria.
Mostert is a very mobile player and he added an extra lineout option to the Lions’ armoury. His defensive effort was also a standout as he made a whopping 11 tackles.
It has since come to light that Lions coach Swys de Bruin had discussed the move with Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus and this collaboration between the Bok mentor and the franchise coaches should be applauded.
4. Powerful Lions driving maul
The foundation for the Lions’ victory was laid up front where they dominated their hosts.
But it was one area in particular - the driving maul - where the Lions wreaked havoc.
This was an area of strength of Bulls team in the past but on Saturday they were the ones on the receiving end.
The Lions scored three tries off driving mauls.
The Bulls’ problems defending in this area also cost them yellow cards at vital stages and no doubt played a part in their demise.
It’s no wonder Bulls coach John Mitchell said afterwards: “'At the end of the day, it is an easy review. We got smoked in the one area...”
5. Does Pollard have a future at inside centre?
The Bulls were forced to play one of their Springboks out of position when Handre Pollard was moved from flyhalf to inside centre shortly before kick-off.
Bulls captain Burger Odendaal was forced out with a rib injury, which saw Pollard take his position at No 12 and Marnitz Boshoff stepping in at No 10.
Apart from taking the captain’s armband, Pollard equipped himself well at inside centre with a composed performance.
At 1.88m and 98kg (source - thebulls.co.za), Pollard is a physical presence and his ability to cover both these positions could come in handy at Test level.