Super Rugby Week 10 featured home wins for the Sharks and Bulls as well as an important away win in Sydney for the Lions.
Super Rugby Week 10
This week, we witnessed a very impressive away performance by the Lions, a decent home win by the Bulls and a concerning slug-fest between the Sharks and the Stormers.
Waratahs 0 Emirates Lions 29
Waratahs: No scorers
Emirates Lions: Tries: Madosh Tambwe, Kwagga Smith, Harold Vorster, Marnus Schoeman
Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalty: Jantjies
The Lions started their Australasian tour off with a convincing win against the Waratahs in Sydney. The Lions were far more clinical than the Waratahs, who looked flat and delivered a scrappy performance. The Tahs let themselves down with some very poor handling and finishing.
The Waratahs put the Lions under a lot of early pressure early on and won a number of penalties. The Lions remained calm and absorbed all of the pressure. The Lions put the first and only score of the first half on the board after Ruan Combrink latched onto a chip kick ahead by Dillon Smith and passed to Kwagga Smith. Smith was tackled short of the line. The ball was shifted wide quickly to give Madosh Tambwe the first try.
Tired Tahs Legs
A lot has been said of the Tahs turn around time of only six days after their game against the Reds last week. Although the Lions came off a bye last weekend, the did undertake the long trek from Johannesburg to Sydney and only arrived two days before the match. At half time the Lions enjoyed a 7 to nil lead despite the Tahs enjoying dominance in both the possession and territory statistics.
The Second Half
The Lions scored a further 22 unanswered points in the second half. The first was by Kwagga Smith. After a lineout due to a penalty kick to the corner, Smith peeled out of the driving maul that was forming to drive over and score. Replays showed that Smith lost contact with the ball as he rolled over, but it was not noticed by the match day officials.
The next try was set up by the Lions forwards. They continually hammered away at the Tahs in midfield, pulling defenders into center field. When the ball was released to the backs all that was needed was to spread the ball wide. Even though Lionel Mapoe dropped the ball backwards, Harold Vorster still had enough time to get around the remaining defense.
The final score was by replacement open-side flanker Marnus Schoeman and was a little beauty. Similar to Smith, he broke away from a developing rolling maul and threw in a dummy to confuse the defense. You can view it here:
Show and gone 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/DJtVcbKFXQ
— Rugby Mad ‼🏉 (@RugbyMadsa) April 20, 2018
The Lions move on to Brisbane to face the Reds next weekend.
Vodacom Bulls 28 Melbourne Rebels 10
Vodacom Bulls: Tries: Adriaan Strauss, Jessie Kriel, Divan Rossouw, Andre Warner Conversions: Handre Pollard (4)
Melbourne Rebels: Try: Michael Ruru Conversion: Jack Debreczeni Penalties: Jack Debreczeni
A Great Start
The Bulls had a great start to the game. It looked as if they were simply continuing their form of last weekend when they easily defeated the Sharks in Durban. Their passing was slick and their scrum was powerful. It was easy to see that they were setting themselves lower and working as a unit. The problem this weekend though is that they did not concentrate for 80 minutes. As good as the first half was, the second half failed to live up to expectations and they failed to really put a tiring Rebels team away.
The Bulls scored a very early try. After breaking out of their half, RG Snyman put in a barging run. A precision pass from the base of the ruck by Ivan van Zyl to hooker Andries Strauss saw the veteran dive over to score.
The Bulls followed this up with a try by center Jessie Kriel. His midfield partner Burger Odendaal put a chip kick in behind the advancing Rebels defense. Kriel snapped up the ball and scored next to the posts.
The Bulls scored a third try just after the half time hooter. The Bulls had a scrum 5 meters from the Rebels line, but were under pressure. After a breakdown, the ball was sent down the back line. After a scissor movement involving Strauss that drew defenders inwards, Divan Rossouw scored in the corner.
The Bulls would have been happy with a halftime lead of 21 to 3, but it could have been so much more as they missed two or three more scoring opportunities through some poor passing and handling.
The second half started with the Rebels showing a lot more intensity and purpose and scrumhalf Michael Ruru scored after the ball was sent wide and then the Rebels cut back against the drift of the Bulls defense.
For the next 25 minutes, the Bulls we guilty of fading against tiring opponents. Their scrum dominance was negated and the overall standard of play became fairly poor. Much of this can be attributed to the Rebels decision to slow the game down and to disrupt the Bulls momentum and temp. This went hand in hand with a number of off the ball incidents, with players exchanging blows of handbags. Head Coach Dave Wessels confirmed this in the post match interview, stating:
We came here to win for the people of Melbourne, not to entertain the Loftus crowd.
Our question is: Did it work?
The Bulls finally managed to score again in the 71st minute when Andre Warner took a quick tap penalty from 5 meters out to score himself.
The Rebels will rue the fact that they missed three penalty kicks, which would have put pressure on the Bulls. The Bulls are a young team, in the first year with a new style of play. They will need to learn to be patient when teams slow the tempo down. Some of their passing bordered on suicidal, especially within their own 22
The Rebels travel to Cape Town to face the struggling Stormers and the Bulls face a stiffer challenge from the visiting Highlanders.
Cell C Sharks 24 DHL Stormers 17
Cell C Sharks: Tries: Lukhanyo Am, Jean-Luc du Preez and Thomas du Toit Conversions: Robert du Preez 3 Penalty: Robert du Preez
DHL Stormers: Tries: Raymond Rhule and Ramone Samuels Conversions: Damian Willemse 2 Penalty: Damian Willemse
A critical yellow card
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