What we learned from the eighth round of Super Rugby, according to CRAIG LEWIS.
Lions’ defence can win them matches
With the Stormers having embraced an impressive ball-in-hand approach this season, the clash against the characteristically ambitious Lions at Newlands was expected to be won by attack. However, the Lions produced a tactically astute performance, with their outstanding and abrasive defence proving to be the difference. It illustrated once again that the Lions are the most complete team in South Africa, with their first win at Newlands underlining the fact they remain the team to beat from SA.
Johan Ackermann will be sorely missed
Ackermann’s departure to coach English side Gloucester after this Super Rugby season was always going to be a massive blow to the Lions and indeed SA rugby. Yet observers were emphatically reminded of that fact as he masterminded a superb win over the Stormers, with the Lions embracing a different sort of physical, direct style of rugby that nullified the home team’s offloading strength. Once again, it highlighted just how far Ackermann has come as a coach.
The Cheetahs lack real conviction
Those who turned on their TV sets a quarter of an hour into the match between the Cheetahs and Chiefs would have barely believed their eyes. Against all expectation, the Cheetahs led 24-0 after a rousing start to proceedings. Yet there was almost a sense of inevitably as the Free State side faded from there, with the Chiefs scoring two soft tries before the break before dominating the second half to come away with a remarkable comeback win. Again, the Cheetahs’ defence and inability to perform consistently for the full 80 minutes cost them dearly.
Loftus faithful have lost their patience
If there was a need for any indication of just how far the Bulls have fallen, the paltry crowd that turned up at Loftus on Saturday certainly provided an indication. With the Pretoria-based side having fallen to a new low when they lost to the unheralded Sunwolves last weekend, only 5,847 turned up at the Bulls’ hallowed home ground to watch the encounter against the Jaguares. For the Bulls, it would have been painful to see spectators speaking with their feet.
The Bulls do have some fight left in them
Despite the fact that the Bulls took on the Jaguares in front of a small home crowd, and produced a far from convincing all-round performance, they did still manage to come away with a much-needed win. Regardless of the manner in which the result was achieved, the Bulls at least proved that their fighting spirit has not been completely eradicated as they battled their way to a win that at least sees them leapfrog the Cheetahs in the Africa 1 conference.
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