Super Rugby Week 5 saw the Lions make a fantastic comeback against the Rebels and the Stormers blow the Jaguares away.
Super Rugby Week 5
Our focus game this weekend has to be the Emirates Lions encounter against the Melbourne Rebels in Johannesburg.
Emirates Lions 36 Melbourne Rebels 33
Emirates Lions – Tries: Malcolm Marx, Marnus Schoeman, Andries Coetzee, Courtnall Skosan, Lionel Mapoe Conversions: Elton Jantjies 4 Penalty: Gianni Lombard
Melbourne Rebels – Tries: Reece Hodge, Quade Cooper, Bill Meakes, Isi Naisarani, Tom English Conversions: Quade Cooper 4
Before kickoff, both teams shared a poignant moment. They stood together in a show of support for the victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings.
— Emirates Lions (@LionsRugbyCo) March 16, 2019
A poor first half by the Lions
The Lions were poor in the first half. Their exit plays were over complicated and they were prone to errors. Their protection of the ball was shocking and many questions could be asked of their defensive abilities.
Melbourne Rebels spoiling play
The Rebels used exceptional line speed in midfield to put pressure one the Lions. There was no better example of this than the intercept try scored by Billy Meakes. The problem was that referee Egon Seconds gave the Rebels far too much latitude on the offside line. The Rebels can count themselves lucky that they only conceded two yellow cards. Seconds gave warning after warning for continued offside play, but was reluctant to pull out further yellow cards.
The Reds conceded 20 penalties to the Lions one. That should be all we need to know how ill-disciplined the Reds were. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Seconds is stood down for a second time in Super Rugby 2019.
A completely different second half
The Rebels took a 26 points to five into half time. They scored a fifth try in the 42 minute to build a lead of 33 points to five. That was to be their last scoring contribution to the game.
The introduction of players such as Andries Coetzee and Lionel Mapoe off the bench spurred the Lions into action and produced a much more incisive running display, breaking the Rebels defensive line. The Lions scored 31 unanswered points after the Rebels final score just after half time. It is not often that a substitute earns the Player of the Match award, but Coetzee did just that. In the final minute of the game, the score was 22-all. The Lions earned a scrum penalty out wide. Young Gianni Lombard, who replaced experienced flyhalf Elton Jantjes in the last ten minutes, was placed under immense pressure to slot the kick to win the game. He slotted the kick easily, sending the Johannesburg crowd as well as the Lions squad, into raptures.
Next weekend, the Lions face the Sunwolves in Tokyo, Japan. The Rebels travel to Durban to take on the Sharks, who had a bye this weekend.
DHL Stormers 35 Jaguares 8
DHL Stormers – Tries: Dan du Plessis, Siya Kolisi, Herschel Jantjies and Justin Philips Conversions:SP Marais 2 and Jean-Luc du Plessis Penalties:SP Marais 3
Jaguares – Try: Bautista Delguy Penalty:Joaquin Diaz Bonilla
The Stormers can score tries
The Stormers have taken a lot of flak for their inability to score tries. Before this game, they had only crossed the tryline twice. They made up for it in this game by crossing the whitewash four times and earning a bonus point.
Players that stood out
Pieter-Steph du Toit was once again a cut above the rest. Siya Kolisi also seems to be finding some form and was noticeable on defense and with the ball in hand. The Stormers might have scored five tries, but this victory was built on the back of a stout defense. They conceded an early try due to a defensive slip, but that was it for the rest of the game.
Jaguares playing possum?
The Jaguares had their most successful Super Rugby season in 2018. It is unbelievable that they are doing so poorly in Super Rugby 2019. Given that the Jaguares squad will form close to the entire Pumas squad for Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan, is it conceivable that they are not showing their hand in Super Rugby.
What does this result mean for the South African Conference?
The Lions and the Stormers are now level on points with the conference leading Bulls on 13 points. The Stormers and Bulls have both played 4 games, but the Bulls take top spot by virtue of a superior points difference of 66 points. The Lions have played one more game than the Stormers and Bulls, but take second place on the log with a net zero points difference as opposed to the -3 of the Stormers.
Next weekend, the Stormers are taking on the Hurricanes in Wellington. They will be without Eben Etzebeth, who failed a Head Injury Assessment during this game and is not available for selection. The Jaguares will enjoy the first bye of their season. The Bulls and the Sharks both had the bye this weekend. The Bulls will host the visiting Chiefs and the Sharks welcome the Rebels to Kings Park.
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