Super Rugby Week 17 was the last week of conference competition and the teams now head into the playoff series.
Super Rugby Week 17: The African Conferences
Ten teams have now had their Super Rugby seasons end at the culmination of the the round robin stage of the competition, with the final eight entering the knock-out phase next weekend.
The Quarter Final Contenders
The Brumbies will host the Hurricanes in Canberra, while the Crusaders host the Highlanders in Christchurch. In South Africa, the Chiefs take on the Stormers in Cape Town and the Lions host the team they beat this weekend, the Sharks, at home in Johannesburg.
A Quick Word
The Southern Kings and Toyota Cheetahs will make their future international participation known shortly after their ‘amicable’ agreement with SARU to leave Super Rugby.
The real conundrum is in Australia though. Both the Western Force and Melbourne Rebels have long term agreements in place with the Australian Rugby Union and both feel that they have a legal right to remain in the competition. Both have stated that they will drag the ARU to the courts to enforce that competition. The kicker here is that the Force is owned by the ARU and it seems likely that this makes them the line of least resistance to follow to dig the ARU out of the current hole they find themselves in. Ironically, the Force are Australia’s second placed team in 2017….
Rebels 29 Jaguares 32
Rebels-Tries: Reece Hodge, Steve Cummins Conversions: Hodge, Ben Meehan Penalties: Hodge
Jaguares- Tries: Santiago Cordero (2), Guido Petti Pagadizaval, Gonzalo Bertranou Conversions: Nicolas Sanchez (2), Juan Martin Hernandez Penalties: Sanchez (2)
Tournament under achievers and known poor tourists the Jaguares ended their season with a successful tour of Australia. They defeated the Waratahs in Sydney last weekend by 40 points to 27 and closed off the round robin stage by squeaking past the Rebels on Melbourne. This leaves them fourth out of the eight teams competing in the combined African Conferences, missing out on the playoffs by the significant margin of nine points.
Southern Kings 20 Toyota Cheetahs 21
Toyota Cheetahs – Tries: Clinton Swart and Raymond Rhule Conversion: Niel Marais Penalties: Fred Zeilinga 2 and Niel Marais
Southern Kings – Tries: Makazole Mapimpi, Wandile Mjekevu and Giant Mtyanda Conversion: Lionel Cronje Penalty: Lionel Cronje
The Kings took a 17 to 3 lead into halftime, only to lose the second half 18 to 3 and be on the wrong side of one point score difference. The Kings looked assured in the first half and were on track for their 7th win of the season. However, they conceded too many penalties in their own half and Lionel Cronje’s normally reliable place kicking was off target, recording only a 50% success rate.
The Kings lineout was also poor, losing two on their own throw and conceding four skew throws. The Cheetahs responded with strong mauling technique, winning this count seven to two.
For both teams the statistics are interesting, yet not important as they are out of Super Rugby and no longer have an interest in the tournament. There may or may not be exciting news coming out on Tuesday regarding participation in the Guinness Pro 12, giving an indication as to the possible future intentions of SARU.
Sunwolves 48 Blues 21
Sunwolves – Tries: Timothy Lafaele (3), Keisuke Uchida, Ryohei Yamanaka, Penalty Try, Kaito Shigeno, Yoshitaka Tokunaga Conversions: Yu Tamura (2), Jumpei Ogura
Blues – Tries: James Parsons, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Michael Collins Conversions: Ihaia West (3)
The Sunwolves claimed only their second win of the season, overturning a 21-14 halftime deficit to eventually embarrass the Blues 48 – 21. In 2017, the Sunwolves have lost on average by 23 points per game. The Blues must be wondering exactly what hit them, as very few would have picked this result, nor would they have put money on the Sunwolves putting 34 unanswered points over them.
Vodacom Bulls 33 DHL Stormers 41
Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Jesse Kriel (2), Jason Jenkins, Duncan Matthews, Piet van Zyl. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (3), Tony Jantjies
DHL Stormers – Tries: Cheslin Kolbe, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Dillyn Lleyds, Siya Kolisi, Damian Willemse, Seabelo Senatla Conversions: Damian Willemse (4) Penalty: Damian Willemse
The Stormers outlasted the Bulls in what was a very loose game. The Bulls wanted to put on a show for the home fans and the Stormers wanted to be tested before their home quarter final against the Chiefs. The Bulls probably achieved much of what they wanted to except win the game, although none of it was of high quality.
Did the Stormers get what they wanted to out of this game? Probably not. The Chiefs will not be as loose as the Bulls were and will be more likely to punish the Stormers defence. Both Jan Serfontein and Duncan Matthews did cause some havoc on attack, but it was the Bulls own lackadaisical defence that allowed the Stormers to hit back at anything they threw at them. The Stormers will have to improve hugely if they are to pose a threat against the Chiefs on Saturday. The Bulls will have an interesting first meeting with incoming Head Coach John Mitchell this week…
Cell C Sharks 10 Emirates Lions 27
Emirates Lions – Tries: Malcolm Marx, Andries Coetzee and Jaco Kriel Penalties: Elton Jantjies 4
Cell C Sharks – Try: Kobus van Wyk Conversion: Garth April Penalty: Garth April
]Both teams did appear to be a little rusty coming out of the blocks, with the Lions taking a little longer to find they rhythm. The Lions, fielding two open-side flankers in Jaco Kriel and Kwagga Smith, easily won the battle of the breakdown. Aside from the turnovers they won, they also had a field day in slowing the Sharks ruck possession down.
At flyhalf, Garth April was largely disappointing and did not command the game in any way. The Sharks are desperately missing the services of Pat Lambie, but he won’t be seen again until next year as he takes an extended break from the game to completely recover from his brushes with concussion.