Super Rugby Week 6: The South African Teams Key Talking Points

Super Rugby Week 6
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 05: The Siper Rugby trophy during the Super Rugby Final media opportunity at Westpac Stadium on August 5, 2016 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Simon Watts/Getty Images)

Super Rugby Week 6 delivered a single win for the South African teams, along with some key talking points we need to address in our analysis of the weekend’s performances.

Super Rugby Week 6

Crusaders 33 Vodacom Bulls 14

Crusaders – Tries: Scott Barrett, Codie Taylor, Jack Goodhue (2), George Bridge Conversions: Mitchell Hunt (4)

Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Travis Ismaiel, Marco van Staden Conversion: Handre Pollard (2)

In the opening quarter, the Bulls put the Crusaders line under immense pressure but could not score. In that time, the Crusaders visited the Bulls quarter twice and came away with two tries. The Bulls will rue their inability to convert their territorial and possession dominance into points.

When the Bulls did try to keep it tight they reverted to their line out driving maul, which became very predictable and the Crusaders easily defended their line. In most instances, they were able to hold the ball up in a maul and turn over possession.

As the game progressed, the Bulls play became more and more scrappy, with their handling and passing letting them down.

The Bulls travel back to Pretoria to face the Stormers in a local derby at Loftus Versveld next weekend. The Crusaders head off in the same direction to take on the Lions down the road from Loftus at Emirates Airline Park.

Our key talking point coming out of this game is:

The Bulls played most of the rugby in this game, but we have to wonder if they played the right game for the conditions. They continued to play their new-found ball in hand style of play, but a tighter game in the wet conditions might have served them better.

Melbourne Rebels 46 Cell C Sharks 14

Rebels – Tries: Anaru Rangi 2, Will Genia, Billy Meakes, Ross Haylett-Petty and Fereti Sa’aga Conversions: Jack Debreczeni 5 Penalties: Jack Debreczeni and Reece Hodge

Cell C Sharks – Tries: Lwazi Mvovo and Marius Louw Conversions: Robert du Preez and Curwin Bosch

DHL Stormers 25 Queensland Reds 19
DHL Stormers  – Tries: Dewaldt Duvenage, Wilco Louw and Raymond Rhule Conversions: Damian Willemse 2; Penalties: Damian Willemse 2

Queensland Reds – Tries: Caleb Timu, Alex Mafi and Filipo Daugunu Conversions: Jonno Lance 2

The Reds fielded a big pack of forwards, weighing in at 920 kilograms, but the bigger question was how they would handle their arduous trip from Buenos Aires to Cape Town. Due to botched yellow fever injections, they could only enter South Africa via London.

The answer was they handled it really well, as they faced a Stormers outfit that were mostly inaccurate and botched many potential scoring opportunities through poor handling. The Reds were in it until the last minute of the game and very nearly delivered a fairy tale ending to skipper James Slipper’s 100th appearance in a Reds jersey.

The three talking points we can highlight in this game are:

  1. The Stormers lineout has been misfiring throughout the competition. They got this right in this game, with a 100% success rate.
  2. Is Pieter-Steph du Toit the right man for the job to carry the ball during phase play and bend the defensive line back? He made a lot of carries but very little progress in terms of running meters.
  3. The Reds brought a lot of mongrel to the game in terms of their tackling, with numerous late hits and questionable shoulder charges. Taniela Tupou and his Reds team mates can count himself lucky that his late shoulder charge that appeared to strike Damian Willemse on the head went unnoticed by the referee and TMO as it was probably at a red card level. He will have some explaining to do on Monday to the citing commissioner.

The Reds have the bye next weekend, while the Stormers are off to Loftus to face the Bulls.

Jaguares 49 Emirates Lions 35

Jaguares – Tries: Bautista Delguy, Emiliano Boffelli (2), Javier Ortego Desio (2), Bautista Ezcurra Conversions: Nicolas Sanches (5) Penalties: Sanchez (3)

Emirates Lions – Tries: Marvin Orie, Sylvian Mahuza, Malcolm Marx (2), Lourens Erasmus Conversions: Elton Jantjies (5)

The Lions once again succumbed to the pressures of a rushed defense. They were often caught behind the advantage line and failed to build up the momentum their style of play requires. They ended up rushing passes and then butchering promising attacks.

They were also guilty of not protecting the ball in contact and far too often conceded turnovers at tackle time. This time seems to lack the attention to detail of Lions teams under Johan Ackerman had. It was disappointing to see the lack of cohesion in the team, with players getting in each others way on attack and defense.

The Lions challenge or the title has taken a major knock over the last three matches, with two losses and a very unconvincing win against the Sunwolves.

This brings us to our key talking point coming out of this game.

The Lions defensive system looks confused and most times was too passive. This allowed the likes of Boffelli to run laterally across the field unhindered, looking for the hole or mismatch. The Lions will have a lot of work to do to bring more line speed and intent to their defensive system.

The Lions travel back to Johannesburg to take on the visiting Crusaders next Saturday, withe Jaguares enjoying a weekend off.

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