What we learned from Round 1 of Super Rugby

Former Springbok JAMES DALTON reflects on the respective outings of the various South African teams in Vodacom Super Rugby this past weekend.

Sharks vs Vodacom Bulls (23-15)

When I looked at the South African squads at the start of the season I thought the Lions would offer more than the Bulls. But after Saturday, despite losing to the Sharks, the Bulls showed that they are not a bad outfit. Morne Steyn showed that he is not past it and reminded us of the value of a good kicker, both from the tee and out of hand. The game was, however, riddled with unforced errors and the result went the way of the side that took their opportunities and scored tries. Kudos to the Sharks for capitalising on their star-studded backline, winning the finishing battle and ultimately the match. All of the Sharks’ Springboks played well and the individual brilliance of newcomer Sanele Nohamba, who took the game away from the Bulls, was a promising sign of young talent in the scrumhalf ranks in South Africa.

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Stormers vs Hurricanes (27-0)

The Stormers did exactly what we called earlier in the week, and smashed probably one of the worst Hurricanes sides I’ve seen in the last decade. They started brilliantly and, as poor as the Hurricanes were, a lot of their poor performance can be attributed to the home side not allowing them the chance to play. The Stormers, for the most part, were all over them. Aside from a period just before the end of the first half and for the first 20 minutes of the second – when no points were scored – the Stormers looked lethal. Herschel Jantjies kept his 2019 momentum rolling and the only worries to be taken away from this match are the heart-sinking moment when Siya Kolisi’s knee went, and then the injury to Bongi Mbonambi later on. Adjusting to these injuries will be a challenge for the Cape Town side going forward, but luckily they still have a nice run of games in South Africa before they begin touring. The Stormers look set to fly the South African flag high in Super Rugby 2020.

Jaguares vs Lions (38-8)

While the scoreline of 38-8 looks embarrassing, the reality of the match is that the Jaguares showed moments of individual brilliance to keep the Lions out of reach. Overall, I thought the Lions were, for a young side, competitive in most areas. The pack performed well for their inexperience but a player who I thought was off the mark, considering his experience in both the tournament and the team, was Elton Jantjies – inaccurate off the tee and missing touch from a penalty. It was never going to be an easy start for the Lions, travelling to Argentina to open their campaign, but I think certain promise was shown. It can only get better from here on out, but then the Lions must sort out their defensive woes, and find a balance between rush defence and marking the player rather than the ball. It is not possible to rush for a full 80 minutes, and it is a defensive vulnerability to turn one’s shoulder in and do ‘ball marking’, so to speak. The players were also often found on the ground, which exposes holes in the defensive line.

Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

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