The Stormers moved to the top of the South African conference standings, while the Lions began their campaign with an important win over the Sharks in round one, writes JON CARDINELLI.
Only four teams were involved in the opening weekend of the 2018 Super Rugby tournament. The Stormers beat the Jaguares 28-20 in a loose game at Newlands, while the Lions edged the Sharks 26-19 in a far tighter, forward-oriented contest at Ellis Park.
The Stormers have moved to the top of the South African conference by virtue of their superior points-difference (eight). The Cape franchise failed to bank the bonus point against a weak Jaguares outfit, though. That may come back to bite them later in the tournament.
The Stormers depart for their tour to Australasia on Sunday. They will face the Waratahs next Saturday, and then the Crusaders and Highlanders in subsequent rounds.
They should be looking to improve on the heavy defeats they suffered in New Zealand last year. The odds are certainly against them winning all three games, however, given their lengthy injury list.
The Lions must be favourites to beat the Jaguares at Ellis Park in round two. The Argentina side delivered a patchy showing at Newlands on Saturday.
The tourists missed out on a losing bonus point when they conceded a penalty after the final hooter. Damian Willemse bisected the uprights to ensure that the Stormers won by an eight-point margin.
The Lions will move to the top of the South African conference if they beat the Jaguares and if the Stormers lose to the Waratahs. That said, even if the Stormers sneak a win in Sydney, the Lions could still top the group due to a superior points-difference or a try-scoring bonus point.
The Sharks came away from the recent derby with a losing bonus point. They won’t have the opportunity to bounce back next week, though, as they have been scheduled for a bye. Their next match is against the Waratahs in Durban on 3 March.
The Bulls, who sat out round one, will be up against the Hurricanes in Pretoria in round two.
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