CRAIG LEWIS identifies some of the good, the bad and the ugly to take away from round 16 of Vodacom Super Rugby.
So, it looks as if the Jaguares are almost certain to claim South African conference honours this season. But, let’s celebrate the good from this past weekend, and if nothing else, the Lions and particularly Kwagga Smith provided something to shout about. The former Blitzboks star has been in irrepressible form in recent weeks, and on Saturday, he seemed to be involved in simply everything. Besides scoring two tries, Smith racked up 71m, 11 carries, beat four defenders, completed 12 tackles and made three turnovers. Perhaps the performance was best summed up by this tweet below from head of communication at SuperSport, Clinton van der Berg:
— Clinton van der Berg (@ClintonV) June 1, 2019
On a weekend where the Sharks, Vodacom Bulls and Stormers all failed to pick up wins, it’s the Jaguares who now hold a six-point advantage at the top of the local standings. That’s a pretty ‘bad’ state of affairs in the SA conference, but what’s really been quite strange to see this season is just how often the Sharks have failed to pitch up and produce a performance of substance when playing at home. That was the case once again on Saturday as they fell to a 30-17 defeat against the Hurricanes. Beyond that, one has to question just why coach Robert du Preez continues to persist with the now predictable substitution of shifting in-form Curwin Bosch from flyhalf to fullback, while displacing Aphelele Fassi in order to accommodate Rob Jnr. at 10. At that point in the match when the replacement came, it was again clear that the Sharks could really have benefited from the X-factor of a player like Fassi, while allowing Bosch to continue running the show from pivot.
The Stormers just can’t catch a break when it comes to injuries. Throughout this season, the Cape-based side has periodically lost key players to injury, with Bok stars such as Siya Kolisi and Pieter-Steph du Toit recently ruled out of action. On Saturday, there was also the worrying sight of seeing Eben Etzebeth being treated by medical staff early on in the game. After the match, exasperated coach Robbie Fleck admitted that the big lock may well have broken his hand, and it will be a big concern for both the Stormers and Springboks.
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