Fans should take the results from the opening weekend of Vodacom Super Rugby friendlies with a pinch of salt, writes DYLAN JACK.
This past weekend saw the Sharks, Stormers and Vodacom Bulls all in action for the first time this year and with so much having gone on in the off-season, fans widely anticipated how the teams would perform in the first run outs.
The Sharks and Bulls both enjoyed comfortable wins against Russia and UP-Tuks respectively.
The Durban side also fielded a largely second string side mostly made up of first years and club rugby players to play against NWU. While this team did well to take a lead into half-time, they narrowly let it slip and ended up losing to the Varsity Cup team.
Given the side that was fielded, Sean Everitt would probably have been pleased that they were able to go toe-to-toe with their opposition.
The Bulls found things more straightforward in their first outing, fielded two lineups mixed between Super Rugby players, incoming veterans like Morne Steyn and Juandre Kruger and U21s to face their neighbours.
Unsurprisingly, the teams dealt with their opposition far easier, though again, the focus may have been on getting the new signings game time and allowing them to gel into the team, while getting the players used to contact and match pace again.
However, the Stormers began their preparations for the upcoming season in a rather different manner to the previous two, opting to play four of the local universities in 20 minute chukkas in what was dubbed a Varsity Day at Florida Park in Ravensmead.
While some may choose to look at the fact that the team was so closely run in all four games, and beaten in one, as a point of ridicule, it must be noted that the games were played in a very festival-like atmosphere, with players throwing the ball around, taking quick taps and simply enjoying the opportunity to get a good run around.
The day was always going to be more about bringing the game to the people and so it proved, with a good crowd turning out to watch the action.
The upcoming SuperHero Sunday at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, which will see the Sharks face the Stormers and Bulls take on the Lions, will obviously be played in a far more competitive spirit. It can therefore be expected that the respective coaches will reveal more of their hands as it will effectively conclude their teams’ preparations for the upcoming season.
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