Super Rugby Week 8 offered some hope to two of the three franchises that were in action this weekend. The Sharks came close to pulling off a second win on tour, and the Lions put the Stormers to the sword in Johannesburg.
Super Rugby Week 8
Hurricanes 38 Cell C Sharks 37
Hurricanes: Tries: Jordy Barrett, Ngani Laumapi (2), Vince Aso; Conversions: Ihaia West (3); Penalties: Ihaia West (4)
Cell C Sharks: Tries: Lwazi Mvovo, Louis Schreuder, Lukhanyo Am, Tyler Paul; Cons: Robert du Preez (4); Pens: du Preez (3)
The Sharks backed up their impressive win over the Blues last weekend with a superb performance against the Hurricanes in Napier. It took a try four minutes after the final hooter, for the hosts to snatch victory from the Sharks. Although they lost, the Sharks will gain a lot of confidence from this match.
They pushed a quality Hurricanes team; who are still fourth on the overall log, to the limit in their own back yard.
The Sharks put the Hurricanes under a lot of pressure with a superior kicking game, including the use of very high restarts to be able to contest for possession. Their line speed on defense was far superior to what has been on display this year and out wide they managed to get themselves between Hurricanes attackers.
The @CellC Sharks went down 38-37 in Napier, with the Hurricanes crossing the line well after the hooter and the match hinging on the final kick. A massive effort from both sides in the end as the tour comes to a close.#HURvSHA #OurSharksForever pic.twitter.com/SIAhmB5RQF
— The Sharks (@TheSharksZA) 6 April 2018
Key talking point
After an indifferent start to the season, several Sharks players will start giving Springbok Coach Rassie Erasmus a pleasant selection conundrum. Jean-Luc du Preez continues to advance his credentials as a Test level blindside flank. Curwin Bosch will be doing the same for the Bok number 15 jersey and inside center Andre Esterhuizen has been impressive on attack. We should also not forget the claims of Lukhanyo Am to the Bok 13 jersey. Flyhalf Robert du Preez cannot be ignored either. His distribution to the backline has improved since the beginning of the season and his place kicking has been metronomic.
The Hurricanes face the Chiefs at home in Wellington next weekend, and the Sharks host the Bulls in Durban after their flight home.
Emirates Lions 52 DHL Stormers 31
Emirates Lions: Tries: Madosh Tambwe (4), Lionel Mapoe, Kwagga Smith, Franco Mostert, Ruan Combrinck; Cons: Elton Jantjies (6)
DHL Stormers: Tries: Wilco Louw, Damian Willemse, Paul de Wet, Penalty try; Cons: SP Marais (2), Damian Willemse; Pen: Marais
This match was ‘the Madosh Tambwe show’. With the youngster crossing the line an incredible four times. This included a hat trick of tries within the first 13 minutes! Astonishing really, the Lions will be left wondering where this form has been hiding over the last month.
After the Tambwe blitz, the Stormers were always chasing the game. Initially, the Stormers contributed to their own downfall. Tambwe’s first and third tries were the direct result of poor kicks out of hand by the Stormers.
At 31-10 down at halftime, it would have taken a miracle for the Stormers to overturn that deficit to win the game.
— Emirates Lions (@LionsRugbyCo) 7 April 2018
The Lions enjoyed the better quality possession and defensively were much more impressive than they have been recently. They are now top of the overall log, but have played two more games than the chasing pack. They do still enjoy a healthy 11 point lead in the South African conference.
Key talking point
It is easy to blame the coach for a team’s failings. There comes a time though when we have to look at the quality of a squad on paper and compare that to their results. The Stormers sit at a lowly 11th position in the overall log. Robbie Fleck was rushed into the Stormers Head Coach position after Eddie Jones vacated his seat after only ten days to take on the England job. Are the Stormers paying the price for appointing “someone” and not going in search of the right person?
Both teams will enjoy the bye next weekend.
The Lions leap up on the standings again after Super Rugby Week 8, yet with their four week tour after the bye, how will that translate into points on the ladder? There are still questions over the placing’s and a team like the Sharks bite’ out of the Lions lead – depending on results from the Jo’burg side.
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