Five lessons from the past weekend's Vodacom Super Rugby matches, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.
The Cheetahs are missing Heinrich Brüssow
Brüssow tore a toe ligament while playing for his Japanese club and won't be available for the Cheetahs until after their current overseas tour. The openside flank has been missed so far, especially in Melbourne on Friday. Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss admitted that 'we were shocking at ruck time' and the Rebels 'definitely upset us today, especially at the breakdown'. Strauss added that they had lost possession 'three or four times from the set phase at the first ruck and we couldn't get any plays going'. It would be unfair to point fingers at current No 6 Boom Prinsloo, as the Cheetahs' cleaning-out and protection of the ball was poor, but there's no doubt they'll be boosted by Brüssow's return.
Victor Matfield will add value to the Bulls
Matfield started his first Super Rugby match since 2011, against the Lions at Loftus on Saturday, and made a big impact in the lineouts (the Bulls won all 12 of their throw-ins, while the Lions lost five, including one that Matfield stole). The 36-year-old also made eight tackles and just his presence seemed to inspire the Bulls forwards. Frans Ludeke, and Heyneke Meyer, would have been pleased with what they saw.
The Stormers' lineout has become a liability
By the early part of the second half at Newlands on Friday night, the Stormers had lost four out of seven lineouts, including one skew throw, which prevented them from building momentum and putting pressure on the Hurricanes. Fortunately, they got their lineout right with three minutes to go, and the driving maul resulted in Deon Fourie's match-winning try, but it will still be an area of concern going into their four-match overseas tour.
The Stormers have forgotten how to finish
How many try-scoring opportunities did the Stormers fail to take in that first half at Newlands? One example was when Kobus van Wyk broke through the defence but neither Gio Aplon nor Jaco Taute had come up quickly enough in support (TV replays showed them jogging). The Stormers have been impotent on attack for a while now, but it's their finishing, rather than getting into a position to score, that's the problem, and one backline coach Robbie Fleck has yet to solve.
The Waratahs are the Australian team to beat
They've yet to play New Zealand or South African opposition, but the Tahs have made an early statement by beating both the Force and Reds by 20-plus points. It took them just 47 minutes to get the bonus-point try in Sydney on Saturday, with Israel Folau following up his round-two hat-trick with a double and Jacques Potgieter making a big impact at lock. The Tahs finished ninth on the combined log in 2013, Michael Cheika's first season as head coach, but if they can beat the Brumbies in Canberra in two weeks' time they'll be a good bet to top the Australian conference and finish in the top three.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images
Lions must roar in New Zealand
Rugby needs the British & Irish Lions to overcome the odds and challenge the All Blacks in the coming Test series, writes JON CARDINELLI.
New-look backline for Boks?
After the first eight rounds of Super Rugby, initial indications suggest the Springboks will have to field a young and new-look backline during the June series against France, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Five takeaways from past weekend
What we learned from the ninth round of Super Rugby, according to CRAIG LEWIS.