Five lessons from the 18th round of Vodacom Super Rugby, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.
Boom Prinsloo can fill Heinrich Brüssow's boots
Brüssow recently announced that he would not be returning to Bloemfontein to play Super Rugby for the Cheetahs next year, and would instead focus on his Japanese club career. While it was a big blow for the franchise, it has been softened somewhat by Prinsloo's Man of the Match performance in the No 6 jersey against the Bulls on Saturday. The 26-year-old had to leave the field after 52 minutes because of injury, but still managed to make five turnovers, including four in the first half. He also carried the ball seven times and made five tackles, without missing any. It was an outstanding effort from the opensider that bodes well for the Cheetahs' 2016 campaign.
Kurt Coleman's rediscovered his goal-kicking form
Coleman missed a couple of crucial penalties in the Stormers' 19-19 draw with the Lions at Newlands, and was under pressure going into Saturday's match in Durban. But he handled it well, slotting all four of his penalty goal attempts, including three in the first half that kept his team within striking distance of the Sharks. Sharp-shooter Demetri Catrakilis will be back for the Stormers' play-off qualifier against the Brumbies, but at least if he does go down with injury, Coleman will kick for goal with confidence.
The gamble of selecting a second-string side can pay off
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee must have been a nervous man when the Reds trailed the Waratahs 3-0 at half-time in Sydney, having dominated possession and territory. A Reds win and the Stormers B team would have needed to beat the Sharks to secure a home semi-final, and Coetzee's selection strategy would have been slammed. But the Tahs went on to claim a comfortable win and with the Brumbies having also lost earlier in the day, the Stormers' final league fixture would have no impact on the final standings. If the Stormers are to lift the Super Rugby trophy they will have to do it the hard way, by winning a play-off qualifier at Newlands, a semi-final in Australasia, and then the final. However, their chances of achieving that have increased thanks to the break their first-choice XV was afforded this past weekend.
Richie McCaw and Dan Carter will leave Super Rugby as winners
It wasn't a fairy-tale finish, as the Crusaders icons would have loved to have ended their Super Rugby careers with the trophy in their hands, but they did at least get to bow out with a victory in Canberra on Saturday. The win was McCaw's 100th in 145 Super Rugby matches to go along with 121 wins in 137 Tests for the All Blacks. The flanker has yet to announce his future plans but is expected to retire from rugby after the World Cup, while Carter has already confirmed a move to French club Racing Métro. They will both be satisfied with their final displays in the red and black jersey. McCaw made 11 tackles, more than any Crusaders player, and won a couple of turnovers, with Carter, playing in his 141st Super Rugby match, converting six of his nine shots at goal for a 17-point haul and organising the backline well.
Marketing departments must stay away from team jerseys
Which Australian marketing 'genius' thought it would be a good idea to have a 'superheroes round' this past weekend? That resulted in the Rebels wearing Superman jerseys with a big Superman logo on the front, and the Reds going with The Flash. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for teams wearing special jerseys once a season, which are then auctioned off for charity (like the Sharks' heart-beat design jerseys that helped raise awareness and promote the need for organ donation). But slapping comic book logos on a jersey just devalues it and makes the player wearing it look silly.
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