Super Rugby Round 12 brought mixed results for the South African Franchises, with the Lions putting in the performance of the weekend.
Waratahs 31 Vodacom Bulls 8
Waratahs – Tries: Nick Phipps (2), Dean Mumm, Angus Taavao-Matau Conversions: Bernard Foley (4) Penalties: Foley
Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Dries Swanepoel Penalties: Tiaan Schoeman
Many pundits were talking up the Bulls chances of sneaking a win in their last match of their Australian tour. The reality though was that they were completely off the pace and the Waratahs were easy winners. The Bulls had reverted to a multiple phase game plan reminiscent of the style used by most of the Australian teams, but were not succesful in creating the mismatches in defence they were looking for. They also did themselves no favours by conceding 13 penalties to the Waratahs 6, often halting their own momentum before it had really started.
The Bulls still have a long way to go to completely implement and understand the ball in hand style of play they are trying to develop and their attack rarely put the Waratahs under any real pressure. SP Marais did attack with pace from full back and new recruit Lizo Gqoboka showed some of the promise that saw him invited to the Springbok training camp at the end of 2014.
Sunwolves 17 DHL Stormers 17
Sunwolves – Try: Yakihito Yamada Penalties: Tusi Pisi 4
DHL Stormers – Tries: Pieter-Steph du Toit and Vincent Koch Conversions: Jean-Luc du Plessis and Brandon Thomson Penalty: Jean-Luc du Plessis
Most supporters would agree that the Stormers actually stole a draw out of this game. Lock Pieter-Steph du Toit was the Stormers stand out player by a very long way and the post match video session might be a touch embarrassing for some of the more senior players. For a team with so many big-name players, the Stormers looked rudderless and light on leadership. It was left to a last minute try by prop Vincent Koch to bring the Stormers within range of the Sunwolves and a Brandon Thompson conversion to ensure they escaped with a draw.
Many have questioned if the Stormers had under-estimated their opponents as this performance falls far short of what is expected of a conference topping team. Their clash this weekend against the Bulls in Pretoria could be a tasty one as both teams will be seaking redemption as well as to stay in the mix atop the South African Group, which has started to become log-jammed after the Sharks recent sucessess.
Toyota Cheetahs 34 Southern Kings 20
Toyota Cheetahs – Tries: Raymond Rule, Uzair Cassiem, Michael van der Spuy and Sergeal Petersen Conversions: Fred Zeilinga 4 Penalties: Fred Zeilinga 2
Southern Kings – Tries: JP du Plessis and Lukhanyo Am Conversions: Elgar Watts and Louis Fouche Penalties: Elgar Watts 2
This match up between the basement dwellers of the South African Group unfortunately lived up to its rather low expectations and it is rather difficult to talk it up. This was a poor quality match that had few moments of quality to enthuse over. The bitter disappointment on the Cheetahs players’ faces at the conclusion of the game was testament to the fact that they realised that had not really put away a Kings team that was missing a number of their top players due to injury. The Kings have relied heavily on their set piece play in 2016 and missing the likes of Stephen Sykes, CJ Velleman, Schalk Ferreira and Chris Cloete disrupted the Kings strongest facet of play.
There was relative parity in all possession, territory and defensive statistics and the Cheetahs defeated the Kings courtesy of superior experience and finishing ability. Not a game that would make the season’s highlight reel.
Emirates Lions 43 Blues 5
Emirates Lions – Tries: Lionel Mapoe (3) Warren Whiteley, Courtnal Skosan, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Warwick Tecklenburg Conversions: Elton Jantjies (4)
Blues – Try: Kara Pryor
The Lions were coming off a bye and were smarting after being hammered by the Highlanders two weeks ago. A cold and wet Emirates Park welcomed the two two teams and the expectation was that a tight, forward orientated game was on the cards. This notion was dispelled in the first minute, with the Lions moving the ball around, resulting in skipper Warren Whiteley scoring next to the uprights. The Lions continuted to rip into the Blues and had raced into a 19 to nil lead within the first eleven minutes.
The Blues performance appeared to be disinterested for most of the game, but to the Lions credit they kept to their structures and were determined to play attacking rugby despite the conditions they faced. It is difficult to point out a Lions player that did not have a gone game, but two have put up their hands for higher honours. Elton Jantjies appears to have the inside lane for the Springbok number 10 jersey and his game management in the slippery conditions underlined his claims to the jersey. Outside centre Lionel Mapoe is the form centre and I hope he gets a lot more game time against the Irish than that one minute that Heyneke Meyer gave him against the All Blacks in 2015.
Jaguares 22 Cell C Sharks 25
Jaguares – Tries: Tomas Lavini, Martin Landajo and Santiago Garcia Botta Conversions: Nicholas Sanchez 2 Penalty: Sanchez
Cell C Sharks – Try: Daniel du Preez Conversion: Patrick Lambie; Penalties: Patrick Lambie 6
The Jaguares managed to outscore the Sharks by three tries to one, but once again it was their discipline that let them down. Despite the try count, it was the six penalties that Pat Lambie was succesful with that kept the Sharks in the game. Going into the final minute, the game was all set for a 22 all draw. The Sharks had the put in to a scrum in the Jaguares half and managed to milk a penalty, which Lambie duly put over the cross bar to hand the Sharks the win.
The Jaguares discipline continues to stand between them and victory. Captain Augustine Creevy was cited for a dangerous tackle on Sharks loose forward Jean Deysel and has been handed a one week ban. News from the Sharks camp is that Deysel will undergo scans in Durban, but he does not appear to have suffered a serious injury. Flanker Leonardo Senatore was cited for a bite on Keegan Daniel and has also been found guilty. As this is his second biting offence, he has been banned for ten weeks, a sanction some might regard as fairly light given the dispicable nature of the offence as well as this was his second guilty finding for biting.