• Player analysis: South Africa’s scrumhalves

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

    Round four of Super Rugby was led by Herschel Jantjies, who starred for his Stormers team in his first game since returning from injury, demonstrating to all just how influential he is to the Stormers side, and their title aspirations.

    Jantjies’ impact in the win over the Jaguares in Cape Town cannot be overstated. Jantjies’ 95 touches on the ball led all 9s in Super Rugby in week four. No other halfback in the competition even came close to Jantjies’ effort, with the next best scrumhalf getting hands on the ball only 79 times. Jantjies controlled his side brilliantly with ball in hand, orchestrating the attack for the Stormers, in what was a close-fought game in rainy conditions.

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    The 23-year-old wasn’t just a threat behind the ruck, though, with a brilliant defensive read at the start of the second half seeing him snap up a loose pass, thrown by Juan Cruz Mallia, then putting on a scintillating right-foot step, turning Domingo Miotti inside out, before outpacing Emiliano Boffelli to the tryline in what was an excellent example of the skilful player Herschel Jantjies is.

    Against the Jaguares, Jantjies continued his strong run of defensive outings, showcasing why he is the top tackling No 9 in South Africa. He now has 15 tackles to just the single miss this season.

    Meanwhile, the exciting Sanele Nohamba made his run-on debut at 9 for the Sharks against the Rebels in Ballarat. Fresh off a 60-minute stint playing at flyhalf against the Hurricanes, Nohamba was back in action at his preferred position.

    It was a solid showing in what was an excellent Sharks victory. Nohamba made two runs for 21m, on 43 possessions, opting rather to distribute the ball out wide to the ever-threatening Sharks backline, rather than run it himself.

    Nohamba leads all halfbacks in linebreaks (two) and going into week five it will be worth keeping an eye on him in what looks likely to be a wide-open running game against a fast-paced Reds side at Suncorp.

    At the Vodacom Bulls, Ivan van Zyl struggled to find possession against the Blues in a game hampered by the heavy rain at Loftus on Saturday. Van Zyl had only 31 possessions, 13 less than his season average, in an effort where his Bulls side were pipped at the hooter by an Otere Black penalty.

    Van Zyl made no runs on Saturday against the Blues, the second game this season he’s logged zero runs, with his single run of the season coming in week two against the Stormers. Louis Schreuder is the only other SA halfback to have one run through week four of Super Rugby.

    However, Van Zyl again produced a solid defensive effort, making four tackles with no misses. He now has 11 tackles against a single miss on the season. Only Jantjies is tackling at a higher percentage.

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    Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix