CRAIG LEWIS identifies some of the good, the bad and the ugly to take away from round 17 of Vodacom Super Rugby.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much ‘good’ to come out of another largely disappointing weekend for the South African sides, with the Stormers the only team to emerge with a win against the hapless Sunwolves. Having said that, one has to give credit to the Vodacom Bulls, who somehow managed to find a way to leave New Zealand undefeated. For the second week in a row, the Pretoria-based side secured a late try to come away with a draw. First they denied the Blues, and then did it again against the Highlanders on Friday, to ultimately come away from their overseas tour with a healthy eight-point log haul after also defeating the Rebels in Australia. As a result, the Bulls find themselves in fifth place on the overall standings, and look set to finish as South Africa’s best-placed side.
There are quite a few contenders for this spot, but ultimately it’s the Sharks who were utterly disappointing in defeat against the Jaguares on Saturday. I’d imagine not many die-hard fans in South African even bothered to stay up late on Saturday to watch the Sharks in Buenos Aires, with the side from Durban hardly firing a shot in anger as they slumped to a 34-7 defeat. It’s a result that saw the coastal side in fact fall out of a playoff place, while allowing the Jaguares to secure top spot in the South African conference. It would have also come as little surprise to see that Robert du Preez did very little to justify the almost unbelievable decision taken to shift Curwin Bosch away from flyhalf, where he has been performing with aplomb.
Kwagga Smith has been in sensational form in recent weeks, and again inspired some calls for him to be considered by Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus as the Test season looms. The dynamic loose forward made a typically bright start to Saturday’s clash against the Hurricanes, but after doing brilliantly to make a line break, he pulled up with what appeared to be a painful hamstring injury. The loss of Smith was a massive blow to the Lions, while there is the very real possibility that the injury could see him ruled out for the remainder of the season. As is stands, the Lions are currently in sixth place on the overall standings, and could well sneak into the playoffs. Considering the injury woes that they have already endured this season, the loss of Smith would be another hammer blow.
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