Craig Lewis

Three takeaways from past weekend

Warrick Gelant Warrick Gelant

What we learned from the ninth round of Super Rugby, according to CRAIG LEWIS.

Warrick Gelant makes his claim for Bok No 15 jersey
The Bulls fullback understandably stole the headlines in his side’s impressive 40-10 win over the Sharks on Saturday, with his hat-trick of tries proving to be the highlight in a largely one-sided contest. The youngster was also solid on defence, claimed one turnover and kicked with confidence. It was an all-round performance that understandably earned rave reviews from former Bok coach Nick Mallett, who enthused: ‘I have not seen a better performance from a South African fullback this year, or in a very long time, in fact.’ That is high praise indeed, and underlines the growing perception that Gelant should be the frontrunner to wear the Boks’ No 15 jersey during the June Tests. The 22-year-old certainly appears to be playing some of the best rugby of his young career, and there is little doubt that he would have entrenched his position firmly on the radar of Bok coach Rassie Erasmus with his superb performance on Saturday.

MALLETT: ‘Best performance of Gelant’s life’

Bulls' evolution is well underway
When the Bulls only managed one win from their first five games this season, there were those who questioned whether it was set to be another season of disappointment for the former three-time champs. Although there has been plenty of expectation around the turnaround plan that new coach John Mitchell has been aiming to enforce this season, it’s become clear that this process will take some time to come to fruition. However, the Bulls have most recently clinched well-deserved victories over the Stormers and Sharks, and it’s increasingly evident that they are starting to enforce a highly effective new brand of rugby. The Bulls’ pack is playing with purpose, while the likes of Handré Pollard, Jesse Kriel and Gelant have looked like rejuvenated players in a confident backline. The Bulls have now shot up to second place in the South African conference, and there is every reason to believe that they could remain the closest challengers to the Lions, who are still sitting 11 points clear at the top of the local standings.

WATCH: Sharks vs Bulls highlights

Sharks failing to build pressure with defence
There simply have to be questions asked of a Sharks side that conceded 40 points and six tries in wet-weather conditions against the Bulls on Saturday. Overall, the Sharks have now conceded as many as 260 points over eight games (averaging 32.5 points per game), with the Sunwolves the only team to have had more points scored against them. The Sharks have played the one additional game to most teams, but it has to be a concern that they are conceding so many soft points almost every time that they take to the field. The Sharks have made no secret of the fact that they are determined to embrace a more ambitious ball-in-hand approach this season, but this cannot come at the expense of all-important defence. With the Sharks having bolstered their squad ahead of this season, there was heightened expectation that they could emerge as one of the leading teams in the competition. However, the Durban-based side continues to hover in the bottom half of the overall standings, and it’s clear that they need to find a better balance to their all-round game if they hope to reignite their challenge for a playoff place.

Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

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