5 talking points: Super Rugby Week 7
Cape Town - Sport24's Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Week 7 of the 2019 Super Rugby competition:
1. Handling errors, lack of creativity cost Stormers
A quick glance at the post-match statistics will tell you that the Stormers did most of the playing in their clash against the Blues in Auckland.
According to the tournament's official website, the Stormers enjoyed 64% possession, made 163 carries compared to the 93 of the Blues, completed 237 passes to the Blues' 120, executed 18 offloads to 15, and won 115 rucks compared to 47 of the home side.
As can be expected, the Stormers made far fewer tackles (92) than the Blues (182) and conceded only seven penalties to the hosts' 12.
Yet, somehow, the Blues won 24-9, with the Stormers failing to score even a try.
But it should come as no surprise as the Stormers had knocked on over 20 times and appear to be having no clue whatsoever how to attack with ball in hand...
2. Vital moment in Blues v Stormers clash
Despite squandering several chances, the Stormers were handed a lifeline when Blues winger Tanielu Tele'a was sent off in the 69th minute for a reckless aerial challenge.
Soon afterwards, the Stormers were handed a penalty in front of the posts. It was an easy three points on offer and would have reduced the Blues' lead to 17-12 with about 10 minutes left to play.
The Stormers, playing with a one-man advantage, would have backed themselves to claim a comeback win.
But SP Marais stepped up and missed the sitter which knocked the stuffing out of the Stormers, who gave in as the Blues bagged another try to claim a bonus-point victory.
3. Red cards provide some 'action' at Kings Park
No doubt the biggest talking point of the Sharks v Bulls clash in Durban came in the 57th minute when hookers Akker van der Merwe and Schalk Brits received their marching orders following a heated exchange at a ruck.
It started with Van der Merwe dangerously charging head first into Brits who was on the ground. The latter retaliated with a punch, before the Sharks hooker lost his cool and I spotted at least two punches that struck Brits.
It was probably the right call to send both off, but one feels Van der Merwe should get a longer suspension.
I'm also no fan of this law that states that the retaliator gets penalised in the aftermath.
It was nevertheless good to see the two players share a beer in the change room afterwards...
4. Poor advertisement for SA rugby...
It's a sad state of affairs when the most exciting moment of a South African derby is two players exchanging punches and being sent off.
Let's be honest, apart from the Van der Merwe-Brits incident, there was not much to write home about from Saturday's match at Kings Park.
The skills level of the teams involved left much to be desired and this narrative that it's tough to handle a rugby ball on a hot and humid day in Durban is getting old.
The great Sharks teams of the 90s never had any issues playing in humid Durban and there's no reason for the current crop to drop as many balls as they do, or throw as many wayward passes.
There was another shockingly low crowd turnout at Kings Park and you can't really blame fans for not bothering to show up...
5. Upset of the weekend
Not many rugby enthusiasts would have picked the Sunwolves to win way from home against the Waratahs - especially not after the Sydneysiders had stunned the Crusaders the previous week.
But the Japanese outfit again showed that they are perhaps no longer also-rans, having also stunned the Chiefs 30-15 in Hamilton earlier in the season.
The Sunwolves scored some spectacular tries and have shown improvements on defence, while their normally suspect scrum stood firm late in the win over the 'Tahs.