Dyantyi Lions' shining light in early rounds
Cape Town - Lions wing Aphiwe Dyantyi has stood out with his performances over the first five weeks of Super Rugby.
While the Lions have stuttered somewhat over the past fortnight - losing at home to the Blues and only narrowly beating the lowly Sunwolves - they remain atop the overall standings and Dyantyi has arguably been the find of their season to date.
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The 23-year-old was a relative unknown entity at the beginning of the season when he got his chance in the Lions starting team due to injuries to Springboks Courtnall Skosan and Ruan Combrinck.
But he immediately made an impact on debut with his man-of-the-match performance against the Sharks in Round 1.
In that game, Dyantyi’s moment of brilliance in the first half - when he produced a strong run down the touchline before gathering his own grubber kick to score in the corner - will surely be a contender for try of the season.
He followed that up with another man-of-the-match performance in the Lions’ second game against the Jaguares in which he scored a brace of tries.
There his second try was a classic in which he bamboozled several Jaguares defenders, so much so that two of them ran into each other.
More tries in subsequent matches has enabled Dyantyi to sit joint-top in the competition’s try-scoring stakes.
He boasts five tries to date, sharing the top position with Akira Ioane of the Blues and Jack Maddocks of the Melbourne Rebels.
What is more pleasing is the fact that Dyantyi’s name pops up in several key attack statistics provided on the competition’s official website.
After five rounds, Dyantyi tops the list in metres made on attack (402m), has made the most clean breaks (13), is joint-fourth in the defenders beaten (18) category, features in the top 10 for most ball carries (46) and is joint-eighth for most offloads (6).
Dyantyi will no doubt be tested more on defence and under the high ball as the season progresses but deserves praise for the manner in which he has started the season.
It’s hard to believe that this is a player who had given up rugby for a while after being told he was too small at school.
Luckily he was lured back to the game while at the University of Johannesburg, before catching the eye of the Lions selectors...