5 talking points: Super Rugby Week 6
Cape Town - Sport24's Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Week 6 of the 2019 Super Rugby competition:
1. Oh-so-close but Stormers disappoint
The Stormers were leading 28-22 inside the final quarter of their game against the Hurricanes in Wellington but quickly gave away two tries to go down 34-28.
It was a game the visitors could easily have won - they had two opportunities at the death to score off driving mauls - but this 'weapon' let them down when it mattered most.
The Stormers conceded tries too easily and it's especially disappointing since talks from their camp in the build-up had focused on how their defence had improved in recent weeks.
I had a feeling those talks would backfire against a Kiwi side in New Zealand as the Stormers slipped 27 tackles and conceded five tries.
2. Bulls back down to earth
Aside from the Waratahs upsetting the Crusaders, the Bulls' heavy 56-20 defeat to the Chiefs was an upset of note.
The Bulls had impressed to date with dominant wins over the Stormers, Lions and Sharks but found the going tough in their first outing against a New Zealand side.
The manner in which the Chiefs dismantled the Bulls was an eye-opener for South African rugby fans.
The Chiefs' skill level was a sight to behold and it's hard to believe that this is the same team that lost 30-15 at home to the lowly Sunwolves a few weeks ago!
Bulls coach Pote Human was right when he said his players were playing like they were still on their bye week.
The Bulls learned a hard Super Rugby lesson: unless you test yourself against Kiwi opposition, you probably don't yet know how good you are.
3. Marx to the rescue for Lions
Springbok hooker Malcolm Marx was instrumental in his side's 37-24 win over the Sunwolves in Singapore.
The Lions skipper was omnipresent as he dotted down for a brace of tries and was also the architect of a number of turnover penalties at ruck-time.
Marx is a physical beast and it's important for South African rugby that he fires on all cylinders throughout the 2019 season...
4. Sharks win the physical battle
The Sharks claimed an important 28-14 victory over the Melbourne Rebels at Kings Park.
Before a bye week, the Durbanites had lost back-to-back matches against the Stormers and Bulls and beating the Rebels was non-negotiable.
After taking an early 10-0 lead, alarm bells rang when the Rebels scored two tries to briefly take the lead in the first half.
But the Sharks showed composure and were clinical in the manner in which they closed the game out in the second half, not allowing the Rebels any more points.
It has become clear that for the Sharks to win they have to overpower their opponents physically. They did just that with their big pack of forwards and suffocated the visitors from Melbourne.
Three botched lineouts and two lost scrums will be of concern for coach Robert du Preez but he'll be pleased they got the much-needed 'W'...
5. Bye bye Sunwolves
Friday's big news was the confirmation that the Sunwolves would be booted from the competition after next season.
Sunwolves CEO Yuji Watase was understandably disappointed with the outcome, saying: "We have the responsibility to expand rugby in Asia as a kind of leader in Asian rugby. It is clear that this is going to be quite a kind of damage... in terms of the promotion of rugby."
He has a point when it comes to the promotion of the game in Asia but the reality of the matter is the Sunwolves don't deserve their place in Super Rugby.
They have not been nearly competitive enough and I also struggle to understand the point if the majority of their team is made up of non-Japanese players.
The Rugby World Cup is in Japan later this year and I reckon that will do wonders for growing the game in Asia...