CRAIG LEWIS identifies some of the good, the bad and the ugly to take away from round 12 of Vodacom Super Rugby.
Immediately after the Sharks’ thrilling draw against the Crusaders on Friday, I spotted a rather cheeky post on social media where a colleague suggested the Durban-based side should ask for all their games to be played away from home. Historically, the Sharks are a team that enjoys touring, but after back-to-back home losses to the Reds and Brumbies prior to this season’s overseas tour, they were being written off by all and sundry. However, the Sharks first bounced back to beat the Waratahs in Sydney, while they utterly outmuscled the Saders with a stunning defensive display on Friday. In total, the Sharks made 154 tackles (to 62), and proved that they have plenty of fighting spirit left in them, despite unfortunately conceded a last-minute try that cost them what would have been another historic win in Christchurch. Meanwhile, the Vodacom Bulls’ scrum was also a thing of beauty on Saturday as the forwards produced a demolition job to utterly dominate the Waratahs at this set piece, while laying the foundation for an important 28-21 win.
Unfortunately, the Stormers’ away woes continued on Saturday as they capitulated to defeat against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires. Although the Cape-based side were competitive for large parts of the match against the Argentine side, they were always playing catch-up rugby after falling 10 points behind early on. The Stormers did manage to pick up a losing bonus-point, but they will be gutted after botching a prime attacking position late in the game that could have enabled them to snatch a victory that would have kept them very much in the running for South African conference honours. Nevertheless, there are just four log points that separate the top four teams in the SA conference.
There was no shortage of ambition from the Bulls as they bounced back from a loss against the Stormers to record a win over the Tahs that actually sees them holding down second place in the overall standings after round 12. With that in mind, and considering just how the Pretoria-based side has emerged as a real surprise package this season, it was disappointing to see an official crowd attendance figure of just 7 483 on Saturday. It’s clear that the Loftus ‘faithful’ are still not quite living up to that name, and it undoubtedly remains a massive task for coach Pote Human to bring the fans back to the ground.
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