What we learned from the second round of Vodacom Super Rugby, according to CRAIG LEWIS.
Stormers have fight left in them
In the build-up to Saturday’s encounter at Newlands, Stormers coach Robbie Fleck sought to insist that the level of pressure was no different. In the opening round of action, the Cape-based side suffered a 40-3 hammering at the hands of the Vodacom Bulls, and immediately there were those calling for Fleck to be fired, while writing the Stormers off. In that context, the Stormers will revel in the last-minute win against the Lions that saw them defy most expectations. The result should also help to bring the supporters back to Newlands, with a disappointing crowd of 14,831 having pitched up for Saturday’s derby.
Eben Etzebeth made a massive impact
When the big Bok lock came onto the field with less than half an hour to play, the Stormers looked to be heading for another disappointing defeat. However, the presence of Etzebeth seemed to lift those around him as he added a real level of intensity to the Stormers’ play. In limited time, he made five carries and three tackles in an important return to Super Rugby. Considering that Etzebeth missed all of last season with an injury, it became abundantly apparent just how much he was missed by the Stormers, but all parties will be mightily pleased to see him back in action.
Marvel kits can be problematic
Last weekend, the Stormers caused a bit of a stir when they took to the Loftus field in their away jerseys, rather than the Thor-inspired Marvel jerseys that had been expected for all local derbies. Although they donned the Thor jerseys on Saturday, it quickly became apparent that there had been a bit of an oversight from the marketers, with that kit and the Lions’ Spider-man jersey appearing to be almost indistinguishable. For all involved, it quickly became clear that it was problematic, with the Stormers changing their strip at half-time, before going on to successfully snatch a much-needed win.
Sharks continue good form against Kiwi opposition
Last season, a couple of the Sharks’ most impressive wins came against the Highlanders and Blues, while they also came close to beating the Hurricanes in New Zealand. Once again on Saturday, the Sharks emerged as comfortable winners against the Blues, with a late try to Curwin Bosch enabling the coastal side to claim a 26-7 bonus-point victory. The result was built on an utterly dominant first-half performance, with the Sharks certainly ticking all the right boxes as they deprived the Blues of any opportunities in that time. It’s marked a steady start to the season for the organised Durban outfit, and they are already handily-placed at the top of the South African conference after claiming back-to-back bonus-point wins.
Crusaders wing produces moment of magic
We may only be in week two of Super Rugby, but on Saturday, Manasa Mataele produced an early contender for one of the plays of the season. With the Saders leading by just five points against the Hurricanes, Richie Mo’unga switched play to the right, finding Mataele, who was quickly cut down in a tackle. Cartwheeling towards the touchline, it looked as if Mataele had been bundled out, but somehow he managed to keep his feet in the air while producing a rather miraculous over-the-back offload that found Mo’unga, who darted away to score. It was one of the most memorable individual pieces of brilliance that fans are likely to see this season.
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