CRAIG LEWIS identifies some of the good, the bad and the ugly to take away from round 15 of Vodacom Super Rugby.
You have to hand it to the Stormers. The Cape-based team’s resurgence in recent times has been undeniably impressive, with last weekend’s gallant draw against the Crusaders followed by a comprehensive win over the Highlanders on Saturday. In the lead-up to this round 15 clash, coach Robbie Fleck spoke about the need for his side to back up the effort against the Crusaders with another high-intensity performance, and they just did that. Once again, young Herschel Jantjies performed out of his boots, while captain Siya Kolisi displayed some delightful footwork for the second week in a row to score another stunning try. Damian de Allende and Seabelo Senatla were also full of life, and all in all, it was a performance and result to savour.
Meanwhile, it was also good to see the likes of Makazole Mapimpi, Curwin Bosch and S’bu Nkosi all producing impressive performances once again as the Sharks comfortably claimed an important win over the Lions on Saturday.
On Friday, the Vodacom Bulls succumbed to a rather meek defeat to the Brumbies in Canberra. In the context of the closely-contested South African conference, it’s a concern to see some local sides beginning to fall by the wayside, while the Jaguares just seem to go from strength to strength. The South Americans now reside three log-points clear at the top of the SA standings, and remain odds on favourites to clinch conference honours. The Jaguares should back themselves to overcome the Reds this weekend, before hosting the Sharks and Sunwolves. Destiny is in their hands, and the irony is that an Argentine side is now favoured to win the South African conference ahead of four SA sides.
Within a minute of the Waratahs’ clash against the Jaguares on Saturday, Karmichael Hunt suffered a horrendous-looking knee injury. Of course, these types of injuries often occur in such a contact sport, but the injury came as he was cleaned out at a ruck by a flying Jaguares player who appeared to come in from the side. It’s not the first time that this sort of thing has happened, and there are an increasing number of pundits calling for the ruck area to become a point of focus when it comes to protecting the safety of players. With players putting themselves in extremely precarious positions as they look to pilfer possession, something has to be done to ensure stricter officiating is enforced to ensure the player cleaning out does so from a legal point of entry and does not make contact to the neck and head.
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