Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Round 8 of the 2018 Super Rugby competition:
1. Forward pass aside, Sharks blew golden opportunity
Following their 38-37 loss to the Hurricanes in Napier, the Sharks will kick themselves for not claiming back-to-back wins in New Zealand.
The Durbanites had the game all but wrapped up when they led by nine points with less than three minutes remaining.
After Hurricanes flyhalf Ihaia West slotted a penalty to reduce the deficit to six points (37-31) in the 78th minute, the home side patiently worked their way up-field from the subsequent restart, before eventually crossing for the winning score in the 85th minute.
The Sharks will feel aggrieved that a clear forward pass earlier in the build-up to the match-winning try was not picked up by Australian referee Nic Berry (WATCH in the tweet below).
However, my viewpoint was that Berry’s all-round performance was inconsistent towards both sides.
The Sharks were perhaps lucky not to receive earlier yellow cards for cynical infringements near their own goal-line and by the time Berry finally acted by sending hooker Franco Marais off at the death, it proved vital in the final outcome.
It was nevertheless a stunning performance from the Sharks, but ultimately their discipline let them down when it really mattered - the Sharks conceded 16 penalties compared to the five of the ‘Canes (sanzarrugby.com).
2. A blueprint on how to beat the Kiwis
Despite their last-gasp defeat, the Sharks deserve credit for the manner in which they rattled the Hurricanes, who are punted by many as tournament favourites.
The Sharks’ direct, physical approach - highlighted by forward dominance and strong ball carrying - should be used as a blueprint by other South African teams on how to tackle the Kiwis.
This is how you front up to New Zealand teams: you play in their faces, dominate the collisions and run direct lines with big ball carriers.
Bok coach Rassie Erasmus would surely have taken note...
3. Lions’ 4-try hero stuns hapless Stormers
Young Lions winger Madosh Tambwe stole the headlines in his side’s 52-31 annihilation of the Stormers at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Tambwe scored four of his side’s eight tries and reached his hat-trick as early as the 12th minute!
Yes, he did so against a non-existent Stormers defence, but Tambwe’s speed, vision and skill were impressive to say the least.
He has now taken the mantle from the equally impressive Aphiwe Dyantyi, who is sadly injured for an extended period after starting the season like a house on fire.
4. Stormers dominate the stats!
While the scoreboard read in favour of the Lions, it was interesting to note from statistics derived post-game that the Stormers had in fact dominated in several key areas.
According to SANZAR’s official website, the Cape side bossed the metres carried (659m compared to 476m), ball carries (160-96), defenders beaten (48-25), clean breaks (18-14), passes completed (213-102) and offloads (4-2) categories.
The Lions also missed a lot more tackles (48 compared to 25) and conceded more penalties (13-7) but their ability to make the most of their opportunities was evident.
It’s also important how and when you miss tackles and in this regard the Stormers were clearly second-best.
A perfect example was Tambwe's first try where he was allowed to run straight through a non-existent defensive line.
The Stormers lack commitment and structure while ‘defending’ and their coaching staff’s inability to correct matters is inexcusable.
5. Are the Stormers properly coached?
The Stormers’ defensive woes have been an issue for some time now but other parts of their game were equally worrisome on Saturday.
As is evident from the statistics mentioned above, the Stormers dominated for large parts - yet suffered a comfortable defeat.
Their coaching staff clearly do not value the importance of a proper fetcher and they were badly exposed in this regard at Ellis Park.
The Lions, with Malcolm Marx and Kwagga Smith at the forefront, won a whopping 11 turnovers to stop the Cape side in their tracks.
The Stormers may have had a lot of possession and executed several passes, but were unable to create many opportunities.
It’s what you do with ball in hand that counts and it was evident that the Stormers were for large parts clueless in this regard.
Nick Mallett was right in his post-game analysis when he said the Stormers “spent a great period of this game just passing to forwards off No 9”.
The Lions on the other hand, were lethal in taking their opportunities, and it was clear at the end which side was better coached.
A few weeks ago I wrote that perhaps there is confusion regarding the respective coaching roles at the Stormers. READ the story for a recap: Super Rugby talking points - Week 4.