Five lessons from the 12th round of Vodacom Super Rugby, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.
Substituting your best goal-kicker can backfire badly
Stormers flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis extended his successful goal-kicking streak this season to 27 during the first half of the match in Bloemfontein, only to be replaced by Kurt Coleman at half-time for tactical reasons. Coleman missed his first penalty attempt early in the second half, was off target with another two penalties when the Stormers were trailing 18-17, and then missed again after the hooter to cost his team a losing bonus point. As an out-of-sorts Coleman continued to line up kicks for goal, the SuperSport cameramen made a point of focusing on Catrakilis sitting on the bench. He, along with all Stormers supporters, must have wondered what he was doing there.
Don't replace your front row when you're dominating at scrum time
Lions coach Johan Ackermann has done a helluva lot right this year, but he got it wrong when he pulled Jacques van Rooyen, Akker van der Merwe and Julian Redelinghuys off the field between the 63rd and 69th minutes of the match at Loftus. The visitors were ahead 26-25 and dominating up front when their props left the field, with the substitutions allowing the Bulls to regain the ascendency and the lead, which they wouldn't relinquish.
The Sharks' defence is still a problem
After conceding eight tries against the Crusaders, the Sharks' defence appeared to be getting better when they let in a total of 'just' four tries against the Lions and Bulls. But their poor defensive alignment was exposed again on Friday by another New Zealand team, the Highlanders, which saw them miss 26 tackles and concede seven tries. The only positive to come out of the Dunedin game for the Sharks was that their opponents didn't reach the 50-point mark, thanks to a late missed conversion. But if they don't become more organised on defence, and start defending as a team rather than individuals, things could get really ugly against the Hurricanes in Wellington.
The Hurricanes have mastered the offload in contact
The log-leaders lost the set-piece and breakdown battles against the Crusaders, but were still able to record an important win thanks to their ability to keep the ball alive in the tackle and turn counter-attacking opportunities into points. The Hurricanes made 14 offloads in the match, including four successive offloads in a fantastic passage of play that began with Beauden Barrett fielding a kick behind his 10m line and ended with Blade Thompson scoring a try in the left-hand corner.
The Chiefs must improve their discipline
Dave Rennie's men received two yellow cards during their shock defeat to the Rebels in Melbourne to take their tally for the season to nine in 11 matches (more than any team). The first was particularly costly, as James Lowe's stupid knee to a player on the ground saw Charlie Ngatai's try disallowed and the Rebels going on to score eight points in his absence. Liam Messam was also binned late in the game, after coming in from the side of a Rebels' rolling maul, and the Chiefs were fortunate not to be reduced to 13 men when another rolling maul was collapsed.
Photo: Gerhard Steenkamp/BackpagePix