Super Rugby Week 10: The South African Teams Key Talking Points

Super Rugby Week 10 featured home wins for the Sharks and Bulls as well as an important away win in Sydney for the Lions.

Super Rugby Week 10

This week, we witnessed a very impressive away performance by the Lions, a decent home win by the Bulls and a concerning slug-fest between the Sharks and the Stormers.

Waratahs 0 Emirates Lions 29


Waratahs: No scorers

Emirates Lions: Tries: Madosh Tambwe, Kwagga Smith, Harold Vorster, Marnus Schoeman

Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalty: Jantjies

The Lions started their Australasian tour off with a convincing win against the Waratahs in Sydney. The Lions were far more clinical than the Waratahs, who looked flat and delivered a scrappy performance. The Tahs let themselves down with some very poor handling and finishing.

The Waratahs put the Lions under a lot of early pressure early on and won a number of penalties. The Lions remained calm and absorbed all of the pressure. The Lions put the first and only score of the first half on the board after Ruan Combrink latched onto a chip kick ahead by Dillon Smith and passed to Kwagga Smith. Smith was tackled short of the line. The ball was shifted wide quickly to give Madosh Tambwe the first try.

Tired Tahs Legs

A lot has been said of the Tahs turn around time of only six days after their game against the Reds last week. Although the Lions came off a bye last weekend, the did undertake the long trek from Johannesburg to Sydney and only arrived two days before the match. At half time the Lions enjoyed a 7 to nil lead despite the Tahs enjoying dominance in both the possession and territory statistics.

The Second Half

The Lions scored a further 22 unanswered points in the second half. The first was by Kwagga Smith. After a lineout due to a penalty kick to the corner, Smith peeled out of the driving maul that was forming to drive over and score. Replays showed that Smith lost contact with the ball as he rolled over, but it was not noticed by the match day officials.

The next try was set up by the Lions forwards. They continually hammered away at the Tahs in midfield, pulling defenders into center field. When the ball was released to the backs all that was needed was to spread the ball wide. Even though Lionel Mapoe dropped the ball backwards, Harold Vorster still had enough time to get around the remaining defense.

The final score was by replacement open-side flanker Marnus Schoeman and was a little beauty. Similar to Smith, he broke away from a developing rolling maul and threw in a dummy to confuse the defense. You can view it here:

The Lions move on to Brisbane to face the Reds next weekend.

Vodacom Bulls 28 Melbourne Rebels 10


Vodacom Bulls: Tries: Adriaan Strauss, Jessie Kriel, Divan Rossouw, Andre Warner Conversions: Handre Pollard (4)

Melbourne Rebels: Try: Michael Ruru Conversion: Jack Debreczeni Penalties: Jack Debreczeni

A Great Start

The Bulls had a great start to the game. It looked as if they were simply continuing their form of last weekend when they easily defeated the Sharks in Durban. Their passing was slick and their scrum was powerful. It was easy to see that they were setting themselves lower and working as a unit. The problem this weekend though is that they did not concentrate for 80 minutes. As good as the first half was, the second half failed to live up to expectations and they failed to really put a tiring Rebels team away.

The Bulls scored a very early try. After breaking out of their half, RG Snyman put in a barging run. A precision pass from the base of the ruck by Ivan van Zyl to hooker Andries Strauss saw the veteran dive over to score.

The Bulls followed this up with a try by center Jessie Kriel. His midfield partner Burger Odendaal put a chip kick in behind the advancing Rebels defense. Kriel snapped up the ball and scored next to the posts.

The Bulls scored a third try just after the half time hooter. The Bulls had a scrum 5 meters from the Rebels line, but were under pressure. After a breakdown, the ball was sent down the back line. After a scissor movement involving Strauss that drew defenders inwards, Divan Rossouw scored in the corner.

The Bulls would have been happy with a halftime lead of 21 to 3, but it could have been so much more as they missed two or three more scoring opportunities through some poor passing and handling.

The second half started with the Rebels showing a lot more intensity and purpose and scrumhalf Michael Ruru scored after the ball was sent wide and then the Rebels cut back against the drift of the Bulls defense.

Stagnant Period

For the next 25 minutes, the Bulls we guilty of fading against tiring opponents. Their scrum dominance was negated and the overall standard of play became fairly poor. Much of this can be attributed to the Rebels decision to slow the game down and to disrupt the Bulls momentum and temp. This went hand in hand with a number of off the ball incidents, with players exchanging blows of handbags. Head Coach Dave Wessels confirmed this in the post match interview, stating:

We came here to win for the people of Melbourne, not to entertain the Loftus crowd.

Our question is: Did it work?

The Bulls finally managed to score again in the 71st minute when Andre Warner took a quick tap penalty from 5 meters out to score himself.

Some thoughts

The Rebels will rue the fact that they missed three penalty kicks, which would have put pressure on the Bulls. The Bulls are a young team, in the first year with a new style of play. They will need to learn to be patient when teams slow the tempo down. Some of their passing bordered on suicidal, especially within their own 22

The Rebels travel to Cape Town to face the struggling Stormers and the Bulls face a stiffer challenge from the visiting Highlanders.

Cell C Sharks 24  DHL Stormers 17

Cell C Sharks: Tries: Lukhanyo Am, Jean-Luc du Preez and Thomas du Toit Conversions: Robert du Preez 3 Penalty: Robert du Preez

DHL Stormers: Tries: Raymond Rhule and Ramone Samuels Conversions: Damian Willemse 2 Penalty: Damian Willemse

The Stormers finally pulled the pin in the 39th minute, scoring from 60 meters out with Raymond Rhule being the beneficiary. This was the result of the Stormers at last being able to string a series of passes together.
The half time score of Sharks 3 Stormers 7 reflected how close the game was, but also the lack of quality.
Increased tempo
The half time break seemed to have ignited both sides. Within 2 minutes Sharks center Lukhanyo Am scored a gem of a try. He started the move by kicking the ball behind the Sharks defense. Makazolo Mapimpi used his pace to collect the ball and deliver a neat inside pass back to Am who dived over for the score.
Stormers flyhalf responded with a penalty to level the scores at 10-all.
The next score was once again by the Stormers. They were under pressure on their own line. Wing Craig Barry broke out of the defensive line to intercept and then kick the ball down field. The Stormers chased hard and contested the breakdown on the Sharks line and turned over possession. The ball was moved down the line and hooker Ramone Samuels found himself on the left wing and on the outside of the last defender. He dived over in the corner for the score.
This seemed to ignite the Sharks, who worked the ball upfield. Am put a neat stab kick through for S’buru Nkosi to collect and dive over to score. Rookie Super Rugby referee, acting as a Referee’s Assistant, thought it worthwhile to ask for the try to be reviewed. He was proved to be correct, as the footage showed that Nkosi had lost control over the ball.
A critical yellow card
Stormers scrumhalf Dewald Duvenhage was sent to the bin for ten minutes for knocking the ball down when the Sharks were on attack. It took the Sharks four minutes to take advantage of that yellow card. They camped on the Stormers line. Robert du Preez took the ball up to the defensive line, drawing to defenders towards him. A chicken wing pass to brother Jean-Luc du Preez resulted in the Sharks next score.
The Sharks final score after some great passing interplay between forwards and backs. Young tighthead prop Thomas du Toit crashed over after a neat pass off the ground by lock Hyron Andrews.
Some thoughts
Both teams will have to take a long hard look at themselves after this game. The first half was an embarrassment. The second half was better in terms of quality, but we do need to look at both teams’ season to put each half into perspective. At the halfway stage of the tournament, the Stormers find themselves in 12th position. The Sharks are in 9th position. One place behind the Bulls who have a game in hand over them.
Both teams need to consider where they  are headed and how they intend to play the game. There is enough quality in both squads to be able to turn their respective seasons around, but it won’t happen unless changes are made in both camps.
The Stormers host the Rebels in Cape Town next weekend and the Sharks will enjoy the bye.

News on the Jaguarez

The Jaguarez continued with their impressive tour of Australia. They followed up their 25 to 22 defeat of the Melbourne Rebels with a 25 to 20 win over the Brumbies in Canberra. The Jaguarez have always had quality players available to them but never really fired up. Has the arrival of Mario Ledesma as Head Coach been the final piece in the puzzle to take the team forward?

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