What we learned from the fourth round of Super Rugby and the Six Nations season, according to CRAIG LEWIS.
Lions returning to irrepressible best
It’s been somewhat of an up and down start to the season for last year’s runners-up, but this past Saturday’s emphatic performance against the Reds bore all the signs of the Lions rediscovering their best form. Yes, the Reds were their own worst enemy at times as they conceded a yellow and red card early in the second half, but the Lions were already well on their way to victory. With coach Johan Ackermann restoring the team to full-strength, they played with pace and precision, while complementing this with strong defence as they romped to victory. Again, there were encouraging indications that the Lions have become almost unbeatable at home.
Madosh Tambwe is a player to watch
Winger Courtnall Skosan stole most of the headlines during the Lions’ win over the Reds, and rightly so when one considers he finished off four well-worked tries. However, out on the other wing, 19-year-old Madosh Tambwe made his debut and produced a highly impressive performance. Tambwe, who was born in Kinshasa, looks to be a bright and exciting prospect on the South African rugby landscape, and was unlucky not to score on several occasions. Overall, he hardly put a foot wrong as he made the step up to Super Rugby.
Sharks need to reconsider flyhalf option
The injury to Pat Lambie was always going to be a considerable blow for the Sharks, but the flyhalf general was perhaps still missed more than expected in Saturday’s clash against the Kings. Coach Robert du Preez had taken the interesting decision to back the relatively unknown Benhard Janse van Rensburg to make his debut at 10, but the youngster batted to take control of proceedings against the Kings. It would be grossly unfair to blame him for all of the Sharks’ struggles, but Du Preez may want to consider backing the more experienced Garth April to stand in again at flyhalf until Lambie returns.
Stormers can take control of Africa 1 conference
It’s interesting that even on a weekend where the Cape-based side had a bye, they will have been quite happy to see that their position of ascendancy in the Africa 1 conference is not particularly under threat. Although the Bulls finally got their first win of the season, they struggled to put the Sunwolves away, while the Cheetahs were thrashed by the Jagaures in Argentina. With a four-point advantage at the top of the Africa 1 conference, the Stormers should now back themselves to pick up a bonus-point win over the Sunwolves this weekend and strengthen their position as front-runners in that group.
Six Nations has dished up plenty of entertainment
The northern hemisphere competition used to be regarded as a rather drab, dour affair, but this season dished up some highly entertaining action. England secured some thrilling victories on their way to clinching the title, while there were a number of surprise results along the way, and the final round this past weekend was no different. Incredibly, France and Wales contested a controversial 100-minute match, with Les Bleus somehow finding a way to clinch victory with a late converted try. Yet the biggest upset came in Dublin where Ireland again emerged as heart-breakers to deny the Six Nations champions back-to-back Grand Slams and a tier-one record 19 consecutive Test wins.
Photo: Anne Laing/HM Images