Super Rugby Round 8 brought us a number of new talking points in the African Conferences.
This was on the back of the long awaited announcement that that competition would be losing three teams for next year’s edition of Super Rugby, which we summarized here.
Super Rugby Round 8: Talking Points in The African Conferences
The Sharks and Sunwolves enjoyed a bye this weekend. The Sharks will host an improved Rebels team in Durban in the next round and Sunwolves face a tough encounter away against the Highlanders.
Queensland Reds 47 Southern Kings 34
Queensland Reds – Tries: Eto Nabuli (2), Karmichael Hunt (2), George Smith, Izala Perese (2). Conversions: Quade Cooper (6)
Southern Kings – Tries: Makazole Mapimpi (2), Chris Cloete, Louis Schreuder, Masixole Banda. Conversions: Lionel Cronje (2), Pieter-Steyn de Wet. Penalties: Lionel Cronje
The Kings know they are firmly in SARU’s sights as one of the teams to lose their Super Rugby franchise in 2017. They responded with a fine attacking display going down to the Reds. It was their usual achilles heel though that cost them any chance of winning this game – their naive defence that was far too often compressed in midfield. The talking point here is how the Kings have uncovered two promising attacking forces in Makazole Mapimpi and Masixole Banda. Mapimpi was plucked from relative obscurity and thrust in to the limelight. He has shown a huge amount of promise and quickly signed a contract with the Cheetahs for the 2018 Super Rugby competition, which now may not serve him will given the Cheetahs may not be in the competition themselves next year. Many will not agree with this sentiment, but the Kings, given time and financial resources, can add a huge amount to South African rugby in general, even if only at a Currie Cup level.
The Kings now move on to Sydney to face the Waratahs
Toyota Cheetahs 27 Chiefs 41
Toyota Cheetahs – Tries: Francois Venter, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Raymond Rhule. Conversions: Niel Marais (3). Penalties: Marais (2)
Chiefs – Tries: Toni Pulu (2), Tawera Kerr-Barlow, James Lowe, Hika Elliot, Shaun Stevenson. Conversions: Aaron Cruden (4). Penalty: Cruden
The Cheetahs are another team with a point to prove as they are also on SARU’s radar to be one of the two South African Super Rugby teams to lose their franchise. For the first 30 minutes, they played the Chiefs off their feet. They dominated possession and territory, with the Chiefs barely seeing the ball. At 24 points to nil, the Cheetahs were nearly out of sight.
The talking point? The Cheetahs were unable to sustain the intensity levels they started out with, lacking the ability to close out the game or match their attack with the same quality of defence. They were also often caught out by long kicks upfield, behind their defence. The reality here is, despite their early lead, the Cheetahs were outscored from the 30th minute 41 points to 3.
The Cheetahs will travel to Pretoria this weekend to face the Bulls.
DHL Stormers 16 Emirates Lions 29
Emirates Lions – Tries: Malcolm Marx, Harold Vorster, Jaco Kriel and Sylvian Mahuza; Conversions: Elton Jantjies 3; Penalty: Elton Jantjies 3
DHL Stormers – Try: Dillyn Leyds; Conversion: Robert du Preez; Penalties: Robert du Preez 3
The Stormers were red hot favourites to win their home match up against the Lions after their demolition of the Chiefs last weekend. What they did not take into account was that Lions coach Johan Ackerman was not in the mood to allow them the opportunity to play their new found off-loading style of rugby. The Lions focused on trapping the ball in the tackle and not allowing the Stormers to get the ball away. Their forwards put in a might shift and had the highly rated Stormers pack under pressure.
Referee Jaco Peyper once again drew the ire of supporters from both teams and social media was abuzz with comments. Inconsistent application of the high tackle laws as well as his interpretations at scrum time tended to confuse very many viewers.
In the post match interview Stormers captain Siya Kolisi probably wrapped the game up best. The Lions caught them out with their tactics and the Stormers were unable to adapt.
The Stormers now take on the long haul to Christchurch to take on the unbeaten Crusaders and the Lions will be home to the Jaguares.
Vodacom Bulls 26 Jaguares 13
Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Travis Ismaiel, Lood de Jager. Conversions: Handre Pollard (2). Penalties: Pollard (4)
Jaguares – Try: Gonzalo Bertranou. Conversion: Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias. Penalties: Iglesias (2)
The Bulls returned to winning ways after a long series of away games, losing all of them. They mostly abandoned the more expansive game plan and returned to their more conservative roots. It was ugly, but they got the job done.
The talking point? Can the Bulls really play a high tempo game of rugby withe halfbacks they have at their disposal? They have been largely unconvincing in 2017, belying the quality they have in most other positions. Their supporters have already started to vote with their feet, with only around 5400 bothering to turn up on Saturday night.
The Jaguares are off to Johannesburg next to face the Lions. The Bulls welcome the Cheetahs to Loftus this weekend.