Super Rugby Round 16: The African Conferences

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PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 08: Chris Cloete and Lubabalo Mtyanda of the Southern King celebrate during the Super Rugby match between Vodacom Bulls and Southern Kings at Loftus Versfeld on July 08, 2017 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

Super Rugby Round 16 was preceded by the announcement that the Toyota Cheetahs and Southern Kings would be dropped from Super Rugby.

Super Rugby Round 16: The African Conferences

In a largely expected announcement on Friday, the Cheetahs and Kings were said to have reached “amicable” agreements with the South African Rugby Union (SARU). The role SARU may have played in this remains unclear. As reported last week, we cannot fathom how they agreed with SANZAAR to cut two teams in order to concentrate their player resources into four teams, but the yet to be confirmed news is that the Cheetahs and Kings are headed to the PRO12/PRO14 in Europe. SARU’s intentions remain unclear as doing this runs against the intentions of the original agreement with SANZAAR.

If this scenario does indeed play itself out we can only hope that the PRO tournament considers the format, especially if SARU is eyeing the prospect of switching their allegiance to Europe. If the PRO12 becomes the PRO14 and ultimately the PRO18, it wold be vital that they stay well away from the conference system used by Super Rugby. It was not understood or accepted by the general public.

In the African Conferences this week, the Sharks, Lions and Cheetahs all had byes. The inconsistent Jaguares pulled off an away win against the Waratahs, the Southern Kings pulled off a fairy tale away win against the Bulls and the Stormers claimed the expected win against the struggling Sunwolves. We take a brief view of the games involving the teams from the African Conference.

Waratahs 27 Jaguares 40

Jaguares – Tries: Pablo Matera, Matias Orlando, Benjamin Macome, Agustin Creevy, Matias Moroni Conversions: Nicolas Sanchez (3) Penalties: Sanchez (3)

Waratahs – Tries: Israel Folau, Bernard Foley (2) Conversions: Bernard Foley (3) Penalties: Foley (2)

The Jaguares defied their poor away record and poor discipline by claiming an away win against the Waratahs. They once again played a portion of the game with 13 men against 15, with two players in the sin bin. The Waratahs probably ran the Jaguares a lot closer than they should have, but flyhalf Bernard Foley twice took advantage of a Jaguares defence spread too thin due to their numerical disadvantage.

The real question to be answered here  is where Australian rugby currently stacks up? They lost to Scotland in the June international window and Italy ran them closer than expected.

Vodacom Bulls 30 Southern Kings 31

Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Jason Jenkins, Duncan Matthews, Jaco Visagie Conversions – Tian Schoeman (3). Penalties: Schoeman (2)

Southern Kings – Tries: Makazole Mapimpi, Lionel Cronje, Malcolm Jaer Conversions: Lionel Cronje (2) Penalties: Cronje (3) Drop goal: Cronje

On Friday morning 7 July, SARU announced that the Cheetahs and the Kings would be cut from the Super Rugby tournament. That very same evening, the Kings upset the three time champions the Bulls in their own back yard. The Kings dominated the first fourty minutes, conceding a try after at the half time hooter.

The Bulls came out after the break and immediately dominated the game and nullified the Kings lead. For the final 20 minutes the game became an arm wrestle, but it was the Kings who had the superior structure both in attack and defence. The Bulls would hate to admit it, but they lost to the better team on the night.

The emotion the Kings showed after final whistle was blown showed how close this team has grown together, as well as how important it was for them to go out with a bang.

DHL Stormers 52 Sunwolves 15

DHL Stormers – Tries: Dillyn Leyds 2, Cheslin Kolbe 3, EW Viljoen and Damian Willemse Conversions: Damian Willemse 4 and Cheslin Kolbe 2

Sunwolves 15 – Tries: Teruya Goto, Takeshi Hino Conversion: Yu Tamura Penalty: Yu Tamura

As expected, the Stormers easily defeated a Sunwolves team that continues to to struggle to be competitive. It was not all plain sailing for the Stormers though. It is not popular to criticize a winning team, but they did struggle to assert their dominance up front and tried to play the ball wide far too early.

They were guilty of forcing passes and were a little disjointed at times. This could be attributed to a little rustiness and maybe the Stormers did take extra time out to keep themselves fresh for the playoff stages, but this performance would not stack up against stronger opposition.

In the final round of the competition, there will be an emotional final game in Super Rugby for the Kings and Cheetahs in Port Elizabeth. The Sharks will host the Lions in Durban and the Stormers will travel to Pretoria to face the Bulls.

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