Five lessons from the past weekend's Vodacom Super Rugby matches, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.
Fred Zeilinga is a capable replacement for Pat Lambie
Zeilinga impressed in his first Super Rugby start for the Sharks, against the Waratahs at Kings Park. He succeeded with all seven kicks at goal, kicked well out of hand, attacked the advantage line and was solid on defence. Jake White said earlier this week that he was considering playing Frans Steyn at 10 when Paul Jordaan returned from an injury layoff, but he'll almost certainly stick with Zeilinga now.
Turnover ball is try-scoring material
Two Bulls' mistakes resulted in two tries for the Chiefs in the first quarter of the match at Loftus. First, the Bulls knocked on inside the Chiefs' 22 and several phases later Mils Muliaina scored at the other end of the field. Then Jacques-Louis Potgieter's optimistic drop goal attempt from just inside his half ricocheted off a couple of players before being secured by the Chiefs, and Liam Messam ended up dotting down. On both occasions, the defending champions backed themselves with ball in hand and exposed the unstructured defence. The Bulls then returned the favour early in the second half when turnover ball saw Bjorn Basson score a crucial try.
Deon Fourie is an openside flank
Injuries to Scarra Ntubeni and Tiaan Liebenberg saw Fourie, who had played as an openside flank in the Stormers' first five matches, start at hooker against the Reds in Brisbane. And he had a shocker. The Stormers lost eight lineouts with Fourie guilty of a skew throw on three occasions. His poor throw in the 23rd minute resulted in a 5m scrum for the Reds from which Rob Simmons ended up scoring a try. After the third one, the Stormers resorted to throwing to the front of the lineout, rather than the middle or the back which provides better attacking ball for the backline. Injuries meant Fourie had to wear the No 2 jersey on Saturday – so you can't blame coach Allister Coetzee for the selection – but when the first-choice hookers are back, Fourie should return to openside flank and stay there.
These Crusaders are chumps, not champs
It's time to stop referring to the current Saders side as seven-time champions because it implies that they have champion credentials. They don't. Todd Blackadder's side slumped to their third defeat in five matches this season when they lost at home to the Hurricanes on Friday. Their decision-making was poor, they failed to take scoring opportunities, and they didn't finish the Canes off after fighting back from 17-3 down to lead 26-24, like the Saders of old would have done. They also seem to have lost the ability to score tries, having crossed the line just nine times in five games and made just 22 clean breaks. Such has been the Saders' fall that another two defeats over the next two weeks, to the Lions at Ellis Park and the Cheetahs at Free State Stadium, would not come as a surprise.
Jason Woodward is a match-winner
The fullback's boot kept the Rebels within striking distance of the Brumbies, who led 17-12 in Melbourne. And then, on the hour mark, Woodward changed the course of the game when he gathered a wayward pass, just outside his 22, and shrugged off five tackles before scoring a stunning try. The Rebels went on to beat the Australian conference leaders 32-24, with Woodward finishing with a 27-point haul (one try, two conversions and six penalties).
Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix
Sanzar continues to confuse
The timing of Sanzar's proposal to change the bonus-point system as well as the proposal itself makes no rugby sense, writes JON CARDINELLI.
Juan adds value to sevens
Juan de Jongh has added a different dimension to the Blitzboks side since making his return to the sevens scene, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Aplon’s pulling his weight
Gio Aplon’s size has not counted against him in France, writes GAVIN MORTIMER.