5 talking points: Super Rugby Week 9
Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Round 9 of the 2017 Super Rugby competition:
1. Never-say-die Kings
The Kings, along with the Cheetahs on 10 points, South Africa’s worst team in the competition, can take pride from the fact that they produced the highlight of the weekend from a South African perspective.
Their never-say-die attitude saw them overturn a 17-0 deficit to beat the Waratahs 26-24 in Sydney.
Yes, this is the worst Waratahs team in recent memory, but the Kings deserve plaudits for their attitude.
They are set to be dumped from the tournament, but are playing with the commitment of a team having set their sights on the playoffs.
2. Winning has become a habit for the Lions
Following last weekend’s commanding win over the Stormers in Cape Town, there was a let-down from the Lions against the Jaguares.
The men from Johannesburg were well below their best and were up against it, trailing 21-14 with 10 minutes remaining.
However, the hosts bossed the final 10 minutes, scoring 10 points to eke out a win.
It just shows how far the Lions have come in recent years. This was a game they would have lost in the past but a winning mentality pulled them through.
Winning has become a habit for Johan Ackermann’s charges and it will be interesting to see how they fare once he departs for Gloucester in England...
3. Stormers’ defensive frailties exposed
After the Stormers had won their first six games of the season, there were the familiar calls that this may be the year they finally break their Super Rugby duck.
That belief was rocked by the Lions in Round 8 and came crashing down to earth in a humiliating 57-24 thumping at the hands of the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.
I’ve already expressed my concern at the Stormers’ weak defensive system and it was badly exposed by the seven-time champions.
The Capetonians missed no fewer than 36 tackles - a statistic which should leave defence coach Paul Treu rather embarrassed...
4. A poor advertisement for Super Rugby
The quality of rugby dished up in the Sharks v Rebels game in Durban was an embarrassment for the tournament's prestige.
It was fitting that the game ended in a 9-all stalemate because no team deserved to win.
Aside from the two red cards, the game was a snore-fest, with several handling errors spoiling any sort of spectacle.
This game was proof that South Africa and Australia do not possess the depth to carry the number of teams they currently have in the competition.
5. Ugly win for Bulls
Some impressive finishing from Springbok Jesse Kriel saw the Bulls sneak a 20-14 win over the Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld.
It was a game they had trailed for large parts, but showed character in battling back to win.
But apart from Kriel’s late heroics, there was also very little in this game for a South African rugby enthusiast to get excited about.
Nick Mallett said the game was “unwatchable” and reminded him of a clash between “two weak Australian sides".
In the long run, reverting back to four franchises will be good for South African rugby...