What we learned from the seventh round of Super Rugby, according to CRAIG LEWIS.
Stormers are the real deal
Although the Stormers impressively won their first five games of the season, there were those who questioned just how good this team was, based on the quality of the opposition they'd faced. Sceptics suggested that matches against the Bulls, Jaguares, Kings, Sunwolves and Cheetahs had yet to provide the Cape-based franchise with a real test. Yet, on Saturday, any such doubts were emphatically erased as the Stormers produced a brave and ambitious performance against the Chiefs to come away with a memorable win. It was the sort of 80-minute performance against a Kiwi team that will serve as a much-needed good news tonic for SA rugby, while proving that the Stormers surely deserve to be regarded as title contenders.
Siya Kolisi knocking on Bok captaincy door
Allister Coetzee will be on the lookout for a captain after the retirement of Adriaan Strauss; with Warren Whiteley, Handré Pollard or Duane Vermeulen having been expected to be the likely front-runners. However, Kolisi has suddenly put up his hand to be considered for this role. It’s still early days in the leadership career of Kolisi, but there is no doubt that he ticks most of the boxes that would be required from a Bok skipper. His biggest challenge now is to keep producing consistently impressive performances to ensure he would hold down a starting berth for the Boks.
Dillyn Leyds possesses a magic pass
Leyds must still be basking in the afterglow of his unforgettable act of brilliance against the Chiefs on Saturday. With the game hanging in the balance early in the second half, Leyds latched onto a grubber from Cheslin Kolbe before being brought to ground. While still seated on the turf, Leyds then threw an almost miraculous back-hand, no-look pass that went straight into the hands of a flying SP Marais, who went over to score. That decisive try was effectively a match-winner, as it enabled the Stormers to open up a 13-point lead.
The Sharks can win ugly
Compared to the enthralling encounter at Newlands on Saturday night, the Sharks’ earlier clash against the Jaguares paled in comparison. In total, both sides made as many as 32 handling errors during a stop-start affair played in humid conditions. In the end, the Sharks scrapped their way to an 18-13 victory, but the importance of this result should not be underestimated. It ensures that the Durban-based side leapfrogs the Jaguares into second place in the Africa 2 conference, while proving that they can dig their heels in on defence when their attack is found to be wanting.
Bulls in a world of trouble
The Bulls may have lost four games prior to this weekend’s action, while going into round seven without Springboks such as Pollard, Jesse Kriel and Lood de Jager, but almost no one wold have believed they would go on to lose against the Sunwolves. Yet, they produced another hapless performance to suffer a defeat that is one of the unequivocal low points in Bulls history. It’s left their campaign in tatters and the job of Nollis Marais under serious threat.
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