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Super Rugby learnings from Round 5.

1 April 2019, by: Quintin van Jaarsveld


The biggest takeaways from the seventh round of Super Rugby from a South African perspective, according to Quintin van Jaarsveld.

Another week, another clueless attacking performance by the Capetonians. This time around, the Stormers sprung a surprise by employing a free-flowing game plan. Why the drastic change, against a team who are vulnerable against strong set piece-centred, territory-based tactics, is a mystery.

The result? A 24-9 defeat after 80 minutes of the visitors largely crabbing across the field, from one side to the other, without breaching the gain line. Wayward passes, forward passes and knock-ons aplenty, the Stormers strung together waves of multi-phase attacks to create opportunities they couldn’t convert into a single five-pointer, even with the Blues down to 14 minutes at the death.

Poor technique also formed part of their self-defeating showing: upright running and poor ball protection allowed the Blues to strip the Stormers of possession in contact, and equally bad high-tackling technique, best highlighted by Tanielu Tele’a fending off Damian de Allende en route to the opening try, proved costly.

The Blues weren’t much better, but at least they finished a few of the opportunities they created. All in all, it was amateur hour in Auckland.

The Shark Tank shocker wrapped up a dark day for South African rugby. Error-strewn doesn’t do justice the sheer dreadfulness of this derby, which saw the Bulls edge the Sharks 19-16. The low quality of the contest and awfully high amount of unforced errors, on top of poor basic ball-handling from both sides, highlighted everything that’s been holding South African rugby back over the last few years.

The ugly fist fight between Springbok hookers Akker van der Merwe and Schalk Brits, who both saw red, and the unprofessionalism of the latter to then head into the stands to sit and laugh amongst fans was a further black eye on the state of the game in South Africa.

The stop-start nature of the first half, in particular, resembled more of a NFL game than a Super Rugby clash and reiterated the need for 3pm games at Kings Park to be scrapped for good. The humidity in the Durban air makes it extremely difficult on teams to play decent let alone attractive rugby and makes for frustrating viewing for fans. It’s a long-condemned lose-lose situation and something that needs to be sidestepped once and for all.

The conditions were only partly to blame, to be clear, and at least the second half was an improvement on the first, which painfully dragged on even longer by constant scrum resets, despite it being a battle of two all-Springbok front rows. When the half time whistle mercifully went, the Bulls led 6-3, which made it 120 straight minutes without a South African side scoring a try on what was anything but a ‘super’ Saturday.

The Sharks, to be fair, should’ve had a five-pointer after good play by fullback Aphelele Fassi saw No. 8 Dan du Preez dot down, but the poor officiating that marred most of Round Seven spilled over into the Shark Tank as the chip that created the opportunity was ruled to have kissed the touchline. The Sharks then benefitted as lock Ruben van Heerden escaped what looked like a clear yellow card after his dangerous no-arms clean-out made contact with Handre Pollard’s head.

Only the head-to-head midfield battle between Lukhanyo Am and Jesse Kriel was worthy of ‘Bok trial’ standards, the skill and creativity of the Sharks outside centre – who scooped the Man of the Match award – combatting the show of force of his Bulls counterpart and incumbent Bok No. 13.

There’s no analysis needed; the Bulls lost the battle before it even began. Once they trailed 24-6 at half-time, there was no coming back against a team who were allowed to play their game at their pace. A humbling lesson for Pote Human’s charges and a “sad day for Bulls rugby” as Bulls and Bok legend Victor Matfield said on air.

The difference in the end was the accurate boot of Pollard, with the usually reliable Robert du Preez missing a penalty and two conversions – all kicks the Sharks No. 10 would make nine times out of 10. That the team who played the least amount of rugby came out on top was once again synonymous with South African rugby, which won’t exactly inspire the local teams to push the envelope.

BET: Super Rugby 2019

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Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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