Five lessons from the past weekend's Currie Cup and World Cup warm-up matches, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.
The Bulls' back three can rip a defence apart
Five tries in a 13-minute purple patch saw the Bulls come back from 26-15 down against Western Province to lead 44-29. Four of those tries were scored by their back three, with Jamba Ulengo dotting down twice and Man of the Match Warrick Gelant and Travis Ismaiel also getting on the scoresheet. All three were dangerous with ball in hand. Ulengo finished the game with 82 running metres from seven carries, including three clean breaks. Gelant racked up 108 running metres from 11 carries, with two clean breaks, including one that set up Ulengo's second try, while Ismaiel made his mark with a 50m try that saw him cut back inside past Cheslin Kolbe. The Bulls have clearly unearthed an exciting back-three combination, and it will be interesting to see how they develop as the competition progresses.
Thomas du Toit must go back to loosehead prop
Du Toit made a big impact at loosehead for the Junior Boks and Sharks last year, but has battled since moving to tighthead this season. On Saturday, the 20-year-old was smashed at scrum time by the Lions' makeshift loosehead prop Ruan Dreyer. Du Toit insists he wants to establish himself at tighthead, now that Jannie du Plessis has left the Sharks, and is up for the challenge. However, as former Bok prop Robbie Kempson says, 'trying to retread a loosehead into a tighthead is like asking a scrumhalf to play lock. Those are two totally different positions'. Another ex-Bok prop, Ollie le Roux, tweeted during Saturday's match that while Du Toit is a 'really talented youngster' he 'lacks the basic fundamentals of a seasoned tighthead'. It would be best for him, and the Sharks, if he returned to the No 1 jersey.
Frédéric Michalak still has a lot to offer France
The 32-year-old's match-winning 17-point haul against England (five penalties and a conversion) has improved his chances of starting the World Cup as France's first-choice flyhalf. Michalak also controlled the game well for his side, and set up their only try when he drew two defenders before giving the inside ball to Yoann Huget. France coach Philippe Saint-André has tested 13 different halfback combinations during his four-year stint, but may finally have found his best in Michalak and scrumhalf Sébastien Tillous-Borde.
Danny Cipriani is back in World Cup contention
The England flyhalf impressed during his 17-minute cameo off the bench in Paris, scoring an excellent try when he stepped past several French defenders. Former England coach Clive Woodward said Cipriani 'looked amazing, and in a team that is getting smashed', while ex-England centre Will Greenwood said the 27-year-old had 'come out here and said: “I can play at this level”'. George Ford and Owen Farrell remain coach Stuart Lancaster's top two flyhalves, but he must now be seriously considering also including Cipriani in his final 31-man World Cup squad.
Scotland can win ugly
The Scots ended a six-match losing streak with a 16-12 win against Italy in Turin, and while it wasn't convincing, it will give them some confidence going into the World Cup. However, coach Vern Cotter will know there's still a lot of work to be done if they are to finish in the top two of a pool that includes the Springboks and Samoa.
Photo: Johan Rynners/Gallo Images