We take a closer look at how the local wings have been performing in Vodacom Super Rugby, according to Advanced Rugby stats.
Wings Rosko Specman and Cornal Hendricks both had their best games of the 2020 season in the Vodacom Bulls’ first victory of the season over the Highlanders on Saturday. The Bulls stars were extremely active in their side’s win, combining for 41 possessions all up – a whole 13 more than the Lions wings, and 23 more than the Sharks wings. The Bulls had great success against the Highlanders in the outside channels, and they exploited this to score four of their teams six tries through their wingers. No other South African team has scored more than three tries through wingers in a game this season.
Specman was colossal on the weekend, and was a key player in helping his side to their first win this season. Specman managed to better his stats from round five, in what has now been two huge back-to-back performances by him. The speedster was very active at Loftus on the weekend, touching the ball 20 times, nine more than he’s averaging on the season. He made the most of this additional possession, running for 112 metres on his eight carries, averaging 14m per run, the most of a local wing in round six. Specman was near impossible to stop, leading SA wings with four broken tackles and four clean breaks of the Highlanders line. He is now the second player in Super Rugby to record four linebreaks in a game this season.
Specman now leads South African wings in run metres this season, with 368, edging out Tyrone Green who sits on 337.
Hendricks had far and away his best game of the 2020 season, leading SA wings with 21 possessions, three times the touches he is averaging this season. It was Hendricks who led wings in runs and metres this round, with 113m on his ten run attempts, just edging out teammate Specman, who finished up with 112m. Hendricks got on the board in the final minute of the game, scoring on a straight 40m sprint to the line after a fortuitous Highlanders knock-on ended up straight in his hands.
We saw a massive improvement in ball handling from Hendricks, who was perfect at Loftus on Saturday. Hendricks still, however, leads the wings with seven handling errors on the season.
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The Lions found success going down their left flank against the Rebels in Melbourne, with Jamba Ulengo and Courtnall Skosan combining for 19 possessions, more than double that of Tyrone Green’s nine possessions on the right wing.
Ulengo, against the Rebels, looked set to continue his running ways, after leading all of Super Rugby in metres in round five. Unfortunately for him, his night ended early, playing just the first half before leaving with a quad injury. Ulengo crossed the line in the 34th minute on what was an overlap excellently exploited by Andre Warner, to score his first try of the season. Ulengo ran well in just one half of play, gaining 60m on his seven carries and recording a clean break. He looked certain to record his second 100-plus metre game if he had stayed healthy.
Ulengo put in a solid shift on the defensive end, making three of three tackles. This was a huge improvement on his previous game, against the Waratahs, where he made two tackles, missing three.
Skosan replaced Ulengo in the second half and saw a great deal of possession in such a short period, recording nine touches in his 40-minute cameo appearance, two more touches than he’s averaging per game this season. Skosan ran the ball four times against the Rebels gaining 30m while beating one defender and recording one clean break.
Green had a quiet night by his standards, recording only nine touches, a few less than he is averaging this season, against the Rebels in Melbourne. Green ran less than he has this season, carrying the ball on five occasions for a total of 35m. Going into round six, Green was leading local wings in run metres, averaging 75 per game, however, Specman has now overtaken Green after his 100-plus metre effort against the Highlanders at Loftus.
Green broke three tackles in his five runs this weekend and continues to lead South African wings with the most broken tackles this season. Tyrone continues to deliver strong defensive efforts, completing five of six tackle attempts and finds himself leading local wings with 26 tackles through round six, four more than second-best Seabelo Senatla.
Sbu Nkosi looked good against the Jaguares in what was only his second game this season after returning from a hamstring injury that had him miss his side’s first four games. Nkosi made four runs for 20m, beating two defenders.
Nkosi made an enormous defensive effort, registering 11 tackles at 73% completion, leading all Super Rugby wings for tackles in round six. In fact, no other wing in Super Rugby has made more than nine tackles in a game this season.
Makazole Mapimpi was rather quiet in his side’s 33-19 victory over the Jaguares at Kings Park Stadium on Saturday. Mapimpi touched the ball on just five occasions, continuing his run of low-possession games this season. Mapimpi has the least possession of all South African wings, averaging 6.8 touches per 80 minutes, with the next-lowest local wing, Senatla, averaging 7.94, while Jamba Ulengo leads all wings with 18 touches.
In other games this season Mapimpi still managed to impact the game, despite his low possessions, but this wasn’t the case against the Jaguares. Mapimpi ran the ball four times for 23m, a far cry from the 17m he was averaging per carry going into the round.
Mapimpi didn’t see much work on defensive either, making just the two tackles in his 80-minute performance, however he didn’t miss any, and is now tackling at a 86% success rate through round six, the highest of all South African wings.
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