• What we’ve learned

    Five lessons from the ninth round of Vodacom Super Rugby, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.

    The Stormers' defence can still win matches
    Having been criticised for conceding 11 tries in their last three fixtures, the Stormers responded with their finest defensive performance of the season. They made 125 tackles during Saturday's match in Sydney (compared to the Tahs' 53) with Damien de Allende and Juan de Jongh doing particularly well to shut down the space of the Waratahs midfielders. The Stormers forwards also showed great physical intensity at the breakdown, slowing down Tahs' ball and reducing the influence of Michael Hooper. The hosts' frustration with ball in hand grew as the game progressed and another two mistakes in the last 10 minutes, both of which came as the result of committed defence, saw the Stormers claim their first try-scoring bonus point of the season.

    The Sharks' defence still needs work
    Gary Gold's side played with passion and commitment against the Lions at Ellis Park, which wasn't the case a week before against the Crusaders. They also showed good attacking intent, scoring three tries, and defended bravely when down to 14 men and the Lions were pushing for a bonus-point try. But the Sharks defence still let them down at crucial times, most notably early in the second half when Ruan Combrink and Harold Vorster's breaks resulted in two quick-fire tries. The Sharks missed a total of 35 tackles in the match, which shows defence coach Michael Horak still has a lot of work to do.

    Never assume the game is safe
    The Lions would have been kicking themselves if Fred Zeilinga's after-the-hooter penalty had gone over to snatch victory for the Sharks. Warren Whiteley had earlier opted not to take the three points on offer when his side was leading 23-14, instead kicking for the corner in search of a fourth try. But the Sharks were able to force a turnover and then score a try at the other end through Thomas du Toit that brought them right back into the game. Had the Lions gone 26-13 ahead they may have ended up winning by a bigger margin, and perhaps even scored that fourth try against deflated opposition.

    Referees must be consistent when it comes to double movement
    When Malakai Fekitoa had a try disallowed during the Highlanders' match in Christchurch because he made a double movement after being tackled, commentator Justin Marshall said that while the correct decision had been made, he had seen similar tries awarded this season. Marshall didn't have to wait long for another one, as Marcel van der Merwe was awarded a try against the Reds at Loftus despite making what appeared to be three movements. Where is the consistency from Sanzar officials?

    Heinrich Brüssow is still Bok material
    The Cheetahs openside flank produced a Man of the Match performance in his side's win against the Force in Perth, scoring a try, making 20 tackles, forcing a turnover and carrying the ball well. While Francois Louw is Heyneke Meyer's first-choice opensider and deserves to start the 2015 Test season at No 6 based on recent form for Bath, Brüssow should be in the Bok squad. His short stature may prevent him from being a lineout option (as Louw is for the Boks) but he adds so much value in other areas of the game that he deserves to be selected.

    Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

    Post by

    Simon Borchardt