06 May 2019, by: Quintin van Jaarsveld
SUPER RUGBY ROUND 12 – BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS
The biggest takeaways from Round 12 of Super Rugby from a South African perspective, according to Quintin van Jaarsveld.
Leave it to the borderline bipolar Sharks, this season’s most unpredictable team, to almost do the unthinkable. For the first time since the opening two rounds, when they registered wins over the Sunwolves (45-10) and Blues (26-7), the Sharks produced back-to-back performances to be proud of.
Ultimately, it was a heart-breaking end to a memorable evening for the men from Durban, with Mitch Hunt’s last-gasp seven-pointer denying the visitors a famous victory. One can’t help but feel for the Sharks, who probably deserved to win after their impassioned team performance, but one also has to commend the Crusaders for showing championship class to salvage the 21-all draw.
The Sharks of 2019 feed off emotion and that’s exactly what fuelled them in the Christchurch cauldron. The Durbanites’ urgency and desire on defence doubled as their best form of attack. There were plenty of dominant tackles along with cheering and high-fives after a few big scrums. The bluntness of their attack ultimately cost them. There were guts without glory, but still, the stalemate was more sweet than bitter, especially after everything the coastal collective have been through over the past few weeks.
More than anything, the Sharks have finally found the right formula, with Curwin Bosch being the key ingredient at flyhalf. The play-making prodigy was at the heart of everything good and scored all 21 of his team’s points. As a halfback combination, Bosch and captain Louis Schreuder, back in the run-on side after a bench break last week, gelled well and established themselves as the tandem to take the team forward.
With the Beast sidelined and Kerron van Vuuren (who it must be said have done a fantastic job as a starter) limping off early, the front row of Thomas du Toit, Akker van der Merwe and Coenie Oosthuizen looked strong and the loose trio were dynamite.
Ruan Botha had a big game, but Hyron Andrews’ absence left the lineout in shambles. Andrews has been immense, not only in this department but across the park as well, and having him back in the No.5 jersey would complete the recipe.
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) May 5, 2019
The Bulls made it harder than it should’ve been with a poor second-half performance, but they’ll be happy with the 28-21 win after the disappointing defeat to the Stormers seven days prior. It was a crucial victory that got the Bulls back on track and back on top of the South African Conference.
The Pretoria side did all the hard work in what was a dominant first-half display and should’ve been further in front at half-time. Still, 18-7 up at the interval, the Bulls were in the driver’s seat. Unfortunately for them, they fell asleep at the wheel in the second stanza and allowed the Waratahs back into the game.
The Bulls responded brilliantly when the ‘Tahs levelled the scores in the 67th minute, regaining the lead just four minutes later and hanging on from there, but they shouldn’t have been in that compromising position. With a clash against the Crusaders coming up on Friday, nothing but an 80-minute effort will be required if they are to topple the defending champions.