• Player analysis: South Africa’s flyhalves

    According to Advanced Rugby stats, we take a closer look at how the local flyhalves have been performing in Vodacom Super Rugby.

    Week four of Super Rugby was a solid showing for all South African flyhalves, with Curwin Bosch, Morne Steyn and Damian Willemse all having good outings. At this stage in the season there doesn’t appear to be any player head and shoulders above the rest, but don’t count on it staying that way for long.

    Curwin Bosch had his best outing of the year for the Sharks, in what was an excellent team performance, with perfect running rugby conditions. Bosch was a steady hand at pivot and was responsible for 21 of the Sharks’ 34 points, contributing by dotting down a rather generous try from a Makazole Mapimpi break.

    He also sent a perfect cross-field pass for Madosh Tambwe to stroll over with ease, and kicked five from six off the tee. Where in previous weeks the Sharks went to the boot often, against the Rebels they kept the ball in hand opting for a fast-paced blitz. We saw Bosch, for the first time this season, looking to run, and he was threatening when doing so. Bosch made five runs for 25 metres, breaking two tackles in the process. His distribution game was strong, making 17 passes, more than doubling his season pass tally (previously 15).

    Damian Willemse had a lot of ball in week four against the Jaguares, touching it 36 times (averaging 23 touches prior to week four). In tough conditions, Willemse played a slightly different game than we’re used to seeing, opting to kick the ball more, with 13 kicks against the Jaguares, nearly doubling his season kicking tally of 15.

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    Despite kicking far more, Willemse still managed seven runs for 41 metres and three tackle busts, a good effort in weather that wasn’t ideal for running. Willemse produced a fantastic try assist, taking a ball on his ankles and firing off the perfectly placed pass to let Ruhan Nel find the tryline, all while facing a rushing Jaguares defensive line.

    Willemse was successful with the boot, providing seven points with three from three from the tee. In total, Willemse had a hand in 12 of his team’s 17 points in a hard-fought win over the Jaguares.

    Meanwhile, Steyn featured heavily in the Bulls’ narrow defeat, scoring 14 of their 21 points, including a try in the corner at the end of the first half, as well as kicking three penalties.

    Steyn, at 35 years of age, is unsurprisingly the least likely of the SA flyhalves to take on the line, running the ball only two times for seven metres of gain against the Blues.

    Despite a lack of a running game, Steyn continues to prove why he is the best defensive local flyhalf in Super Rugby, making six tackles and no misses in week four. Steyn now has a season tally of 19 tackles to just the one miss.

    In week five we’ll see Elton Jantjies, fresh off an excellent effort against the Stormers, back in action and looking to expand on his recent form.

    Give @AdvancedRugby a follow here and look out for their stats website coming soon.

    Photo: Steve Haag Sports/Hollywoodbets