What we learned from the eighth round of Vodacom Super Rugby, according to CRAIG LEWIS.
Sharks click into gear, Lions stall
Coming into this weekend, the Sharks had been haunted by inconsistency, with three wins and three losses having left them rather precariously placed around the mid-table mark. Then came Friday’s clash against the Lions, and almost from nowhere, the Sharks showed just how dangerous they can be. According to Sanzaar’s statistics, they made 645m to 322, 150 carries to 79, beat 36 defenders to 16, and won 10 turnovers on the way to their stunning 42-5 bonus-point win. It’s a result that has shaken up the South African conference, while serving as a serious reality check for the Lions, who simply had no answer on their home turf on Friday night, and will now head off on what could be a challenging overseas tour.
Bosch makes a statement
Curwin Bosch has been a player many supporters have continued to wonder about this season. The enigmatic youngster has predominantly played off the bench ever since an injury disrupted his start to the year, but on Friday he won back the No 15 jersey. Grabbing the opportunity, Bosch duly produced one of the more memorable individual performances of this season as he tore the Lions apart, making 104m, 11 carries and nine clean breaks, while setting up a couple of tries to boot. It was also quite ironic that the performance came in a week where he had been linked with a move away from the Sharks. Yet in no uncertain terms he showed just how good he can be.
Am achieving goal of consistency
When chatting to Lukhanyo Am towards the end of last year, the Sharks centre constantly reiterated that one of his primary goals for 2019 was simply to achieve real consistency in his performances. After eight rounds of Super Rugby, the good news is that he is succeeding in doing just that. Week in and week out, he has been one of the Sharks’ most impressive performers this season, and on Saturday he was at it again. His numbers also tell a story as he scored a try, completed 83m, 15 carries and beat five defenders. In addition, he made six tackles and won a whopping four turnovers to demonstrate his full all-round value yet again.
Stormers’ overseas woes continue
When the Stormers headed to New Zealand a few weeks ago, there was a glimmer of hope around the Cape-based side as they had slowly begun to build some winning momentum after a disastrous season-opener. Unfortunately, all the Stormers’ frailties were rather glaringly on show as the uninspiring Reds still managed to grind out a relatively comfortable 24-12 victory on Friday. After defeats to the Hurricanes and Blues prior to that, the Stormers have now fallen to 11th on the overall standings, and they still need to face the well-organised Rebels to prevent another winless overseas tour.
Vodacom Bulls botched it at Loftus
After 70 minutes of play against the Jaguares on Saturday, the Bulls looked virtually assured of victory. They led 20-10 after bossing most key facets of play, while having led virtually throughout the clash. Considering that they had also taken on the Jaguares without the services of several key players, it looked as if they were in line for what would have been a highly-valuable victory. Instead, Tim Agaba and Conraad van Vuuren conceded needless yellow cards, and the Jaguares wasted little time in seizing the opportunity as they scored two late tries to snatch victory. It was a massive lost opportunity for the Bulls, and a real lesson in the importance of closing out a game.
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