Five lessons from the fifth round of Vodacom Super Rugby, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.
Safety-first tactics can get the job done
Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold has spoken a lot about his side's aim to play more attacking rugby this season, but against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday they adopted a more pragmatic approach in a bid to secure a desperately needed win. With just 34% of the possession and territory, the Sharks made good use of the boot (kicking 28 times out of hand) and the driving maul, which resulted in two tries for Marcell Coetzee. Their forward-orientated game may not have been pretty to watch, but it was effective and helped get their season back on track.
Henrich Brüssow is still a breakdown bandit
The former Bok openside flanker made an impressive return to Super Rugby off the bench for the Cheetahs on Saturday. During his 31-minute stint he won three turnovers, beat three defenders with ball in hand and made two tackles. Brüssow showed what value he can add to the Cheetahs this season and should wear the No 6 jersey for their next match against the Crusaders in Christchurch.
Leave a firing front row on for as long as possible
The Stormers smashed the Chiefs scrum at Newlands on Saturday when Steven Kitshoff, Scarra Ntubeni and Vincent Koch were on the field, so why were they substituted with 20 minutes to go? Their replacements (Alistair Vermaak, Neil Rautenbach and Frans Malherbe) failed to make an impact, which allowed the visitors to achieve parity at the set piece for the first time in the game and even win a scrum penalty. The starting front row should have stayed on the field for as long as possible and only been substituted when they became visibly fatigued.
The Chiefs can win matches even when they don't win the battle up front
How many South African teams would have won against good opposition away from home despite being pummelled at scrum time? The Chiefs were able to do so at Newlands because of their world-class backs, whose excellent running lines, silky handling skills and ability to keep the ball alive put the Stormers' defence under pressure, especially in the second half. While the hosts were able to keep Sonny Bill Williams relatively quiet, Aaron Cruden, Damian McKenzie, James Lowe and Bryce Heem were a constant threat on attack, making 50, 50, 124 and 58 running metres respectively. The Chiefs forwards should have bought them all a beer on Saturday night.
Tighthead props must scrum straight
Lions tighthead Julian Redelinghuys paid the price for scrumming at an angle against Crusaders loosehead Wyatt Crockett in Christchurch on Saturday. Crockett smashed his direct opponent, who conceded a penalty early in the first half when he popped out of the scrum, and was then yellow-carded for a similar incident in the 50th minute. With Redelinghuys having received a warning from the referee midway through the first half for repeated infringements, Lions coach Johan Ackermann should have brought Ruan Dreyer on at half-time and not with 20 minutes in the match to go, after the Lions had conceded two tries while down to 14 men.
Photo: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images