What we’ve learned

Five lessons from the 14th round of Super Rugby, according to CRAIG LEWIS.

The Lions are Super Rugby contenders
The Lions head into the June break with a six-point lead at the top of the South African group. When they return to action, they will host the Sharks and Kings before travelling to Buenos Aires to face the Jaguares. There is no reason to believe they won’t finish top of the South African pile and deservedly book a home quarter-final. Yet, as they demonstrated in their emphatic 56-20 win over the Bulls at Loftus, perhaps we should be considering that this Lions side can go all the way. After their disappointing loss to the Hurricanes at the end of April, the Lions have hammered the Blues, Jaguares and Bulls. Their brutal demolition of the Bulls in particular served as another attacking masterclass, and reminded us once again that the Lions can be contenders at the business end of the season.

Faf de Klerk can be key to the Boks’ attacking evolution
When Allister Coetzee was unveiled as the new Bok coach in April, he spoke of his desire to add more speed and precision to the team’s game plan. He spoke particularly of the need to focus on the speed and movement of attack, while generating momentum through the use of quick hands and accurate decision-making from the halfbacks. On Saturday, Faf de Klerk sent out a reminder that he could well be the perfect scrumhalf to implement these plans. His pace, dynamism and decision-making were top drawer as he scored a try and created two others with sniping breaks. With Coetzee confident that Elton Jantjies will be fit in time to face the Irish in June, the Lions’ halfback duo, with De Klerk at No 9, could be the perfect foil for the Boks.

Siya Kolisi deserves to wear the Bok No 7 jersey
Just as De Klerk sent out a timely reminder of his abilities on Saturday, Kolisi did the same with an eye-catching performance against the Cheetahs at Newlands. The Stormers have opted to rotate their loose trio for most of this season, but on Saturday Kolisi started at blindside flank and duly produced a Man of the Match performance. As illustrated by SARugbymag.co.za’s Opta-powered stats, he made 71m, beat five defenders and completed seven tackles. In the absence of Willem Alberts for the June series against Ireland, Kolisi is certainly the man who deserves to be handed the Bok No 7 jersey.

The Kings have little cause for celebration
On Friday, the Kings secured their second win of the season when they overcame the Jaguares in Port Elizabeth. It should have been a result to celebrate. However, considering the Jaguares conceded two red cards and then a yellow card to be reduced to 12 men, it was an indictment that the Kings had to rely on a late surge to snatch a narrow win. The Kings’ performance was blighted by poor handling, ill-discipline and inaccurate ball security, which nearly allowed the Jaguares to come away with the most improbable victory. The Kings will take the result and run, but they wouldn’t have been celebrating long into the night over the quality of their performance.

The Jaguares are losing friends fast
The Argentinian side came into Friday’s clash against the Kings with an increasingly poor disciplinary record. Following the match in Port Elizabeth, that reputation has only been blighted even further. Two players were red-carded, while Lezana Tomas was shown a yellow card to become the eighth Jaguares player to be sent to the sin bin this season. In total, the Jaguares have also conceded 124 penalties this season while, let’s not forget, Leonardo Senatore is serving a 10-week suspension for biting.

Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images

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Craig Lewis