Super Rugby Round 5: The South African Franchises

In Super Rugby Round 5, the South African Franchises mostly disappointed their fans.

Hurricanes 42 Southern Kings 20

Hurricanes – Tries: Ngani Laumape, Blade Thomson, Ardie Savea, Vince Aso and Beauden Barrett Conversions: Beauden Barrett 4 Penalties: Beauden Barrett 3

Southern Kings – Tries: Steven Sykes and Louis Fouche Conversions: Louis Fouche 2 Penalties: Louis Fouche 2

The Kings gave the Hurricanes a fright this weekend, with a much improved performance. The Kings missed tackle count was still a real problem for them, missing 34 out of 101. Their attacking play showed a bit more variety, but they will be kicking themselves for making a number of handling errors while on attack. The Kings decision making on attack was also questionable at times, with the final lineout being a case in point. Throwing the long ball over the lineout into midfield is always a 50/5o call and in this instance Beauden Barrett snapped up the loose ball and ran in from 50 metres to score. Middle ball and a driving maul would have been a much more sensible play.

To be fair though, the score flattered the Hurricanes and it was two very late tries that bolstered their score. The Hurricanes were forced to kick penalties at goal instead of the corner as the Kings continued coming back at them and keeping within range until those two late tries were scored.

Sunwolves 27 Vodacom Bulls 30

Sunwolves – Tries: Andrew Durutalo, Akihito Yamada, Yuki Yatomi Conversions: Tusi Pisi (3) Penalties: Pisi (2)
Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Adriaan Strauss, Roelof Smit, Jamba Ulengo Conversions: Tian Schoeman (3) Penalties: Schoeman (3)

The Bulls will need to take a hard look at themselves after this game. They enjoyed the lions share of  possession and seemed destined to grind the the Sunwolves into submission but this simply did not happen, mostly because the Bulls reverted to their tired game plan of using one off forward runners off scrumhalf Rudi Paige. 67% of possession and 75% territorial advantage should produce a thumping, especially against a team that had conceded two yellow cards. Tusi Pisi at flyhalf for the Sunwolves has been a revalation and is the heartbeat of the team. Under his leadership, the Sunwolves used great linespeed on defence to disrupt the Bulls. They also used smart chip and grubber kicks to turn the Bulls around on defense and often found acres of unprotected space.

The Bulls are sorely missing Handre Pollard. Tian Schoeman’s place kicking seems adequate, but his kicking out of hand is erratic, missing touch with penalty kicks and kicking penalty kicks to the corner into the dead ball zone. I am personally not convinced that he is able to get the backline away effectively either and believe that flyhalf will be the Bulls achilles heel this year.

Toyota Cheetahs 18 Brumbies 25

Toyota Cheetahs – Tries: Uzair Cassiem, Sergeal Petersen Conversions: Niel Marais Penalties: Marais (2)

Brumbies – Tries: Ita Vaea, Aiden Toua, Ben Alexander Conversions: Christian Lealiifano, Matt Toomua Penalties: Lealiifano (2)

This matchup in Bloemfontein was a pretty grimey affair, with very little skill on display other than the interplay between Raymond Rule, Clayton Blommetjies and Sergeal Petersen that lead to Petersen’s try. The Cheetahs often put themselves under severe pressure with some wild passing in their own 22. David Pocock had a field day at the breakdown though and the turnover count of 14 to 4 made him an easy choice as Man of the Match. Whilst there was a bit of rain during the game, the handling error count of 31 during the game contributed to the fact that this wa a pretty unattractive game to watch.

Cell C Sharks 14 Crusaders 19

Crusaders – Tries: David Havili, Nemani Nadolo and Kieran Read Conversions: Richard Mo’Unga 2

Cell C Sharks – Tries: Lwazi Mvovo 2 Conversions: Joe Pietersen 2

The Crusaders continued their dominance over the Sharks, having now won 17 out of their last 21 encounters. This result was built on a far superior kicking game to the Sharks, continually turning them around and forcing them to play in their own 22. What will be of concern to Sharks fans is that both Sharks tries were effectively from intercepts and there will be some worry about their attacking abilities against top teams. The final score was more reflective of the struggle the Crusaders had in breaking down a resilient Sharks defense. The Crusaders where certainly more attack minded and I fall back to one of my favourite statistics. The Crusaders made 17 offloads in tackles, to the Sharks 1. Why is it that most South African teams don’t offload in the tackle?

For me, Joe Pietersen is not the answer defence. Sharks fans will be hoping against hope that Pat Lambie returns from injury sooner rather than later.

Jaguares 8 DHL Stormers 13

DHL Stormers – Try: Cheslin Kolbe Conversion: Kurt Coleman Penalties: Kurt Coleman 2

Jaguares – Try: Jeronimo de la Fuenta Penalty: Nicolas Sanchez

The Stormers started off with a fast paced game plan, but this faded away at around the half hour mark. The only real bright spark in this game was Cheslin Kolbe’s stepping act that saw him beat seven defenders to score. Other than that, the Stormers victory was really built on a strong defensive display, forcing the Jaguares into 23 handling errors.. The Jaguares discipline was once again brought into question, conceding yet another yellow card.

What will be of concern to the Stormers is that they went scoreless for the last 56 minutes of the match, contributing to a dour second half in which neither side could find a way to put add any form of score to the board.  As for the crowd in Buenos Aires, are they possibly the most unsporting in Super Rugby?

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