CRAIG LEWIS identifies some of the good, the bad and the ugly to take away from round 14 of Vodacom Super Rugby.
A undefeated weekend for South African sides against overseas opposition. That has to be something to celebrate. First it was the Vodacom Bulls who overpowered the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday, while the Lions then claimed a crucial win over the Highlanders at Ellis Park. The best, really, was left for last though in what was a captivating battle between the Stormers and Crusaders on Saturday. The atmosphere at a jampacked Newlands rivalled that of a Test match, and the intensity between both teams was something to behold. Some will say that the Crusaders were unlucky to lose after a match-winning try was ruled out due to a forward pass, while fans from the opposite camp might point to Damian Willemse’s failure to collect a bouncing ball with the tryline at his mercy. Ultimately, a 19-19 draw was probably the fairest result, but (and I cringe to say this), rugby was the real winner on the day.
From a purely South African perspective, the Jaguares shock win over the Hurricanes in Wellington has to be seen as a ‘bad’ result. It was the Jaguares’ first-ever win in Wellington, and strengthened their bid for the South African conference title. As it stands now, the Argentine side and the Bulls are both locked up on 32 log points at the summit of the local standings, with the latter only leading due to a marginally better points difference. However, one would have to say that the Jaguares must now be favourites to beat the Waratahs and Reds in Australia, while they then finish the pool stages with home games against the Sharks and Sunwolves. It’s certainly looking like the Jaguares will be very difficult to stop from claiming SA conference honours.
Perhaps this article needs to be re-branded as ‘the good, the bad and the bitter-sweet’ just for this week as it really was bitter-sweet to see the Stormers opt for a shot at goal with the last play of the game against the Crusaders on Saturday. Yes, it was understandable that captain Siya Kolisi prioritised at least claiming a share of the spoils after a massive effort from his side. But, the fact remains that the Stormers still remain rooted to the bottom of the SA conference despite claiming two log points. To have any chance of sneaking into the playoffs, the Stormers really needed to be bold and go for broke to claim a victory. Instead, they settled for a 19-19 draw.
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