Super Rugby 2018

 

Post Match Review : Week One

 

Stormers vs Jaguares

Venue: Newlands, Cape Town

Referee: Jaco Peyper

Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Egon Seconds

TMO: Christie du Preez

Some have said this was a great game of rugby, and I have to wonder at their sanity. Great rugby it certainly was not.

It was typical early season stuff. Fast paced perhaps, entertaining too, but riddled with errors and poor decisions. Both sides spread the ball around a bit like a toddler toying with a Marmite sandwich. The toddler is not really hungry, but he will worry that sandwich until it disappears into the carpets. There is a thin layer of Marmite on everything once the toddler is done with that sandwich. Once the Stormers and the Jaguares were done with the ball, it had been all over the park multiple times, much like the toddler’s Marmite sandwich!

It was messy, and not everyone likes Marmite (I do NOT like Marmite.) – Yet, there were some tasty, entertaining bits to this Marmite sandwich.

Wow, those Jaguares know how to off-load and pass a ball at pace! It was a pleasure to watch them launch raid after raid with quick hands and deft little offloads. It is entertaining stuff! Their lack of finishing and the vision to go wide at crucial times, together with some scrambling Stormers defence ensured that they did not capitalize on their handling abilities.

The Stormers too showed some superb enterprise, launching attacks from deep, with sweeping moves and some great runs by individuals. There was no lack of willingness and ability, but some truly woeful handling and finishing put paid to their hopes of a comprehensive victory. A couple of players were guilty of indecision at crucial moments, which also allowed opportunities to slip away.

I watched this game with somewhat less technical interest than I did the one that followed, between the Lions and Sharks. In the latter game, I was looking for answers to a number of technical questions about the teams and certain player too. In this game, I had less interest in tactics and patterns of play, I knew what the Stormers would do, and the Jaguares are somewhat predictable in their game plans.

There were, however, some bits and pieces that I wanted to watch.

  1. Would the Stormers improve on their handling and get to finish more try scoring opportunities, taking their game another step forward from 2017?
  2. Has the new coach and captain at the Jaguares had any effect on how they play the game, especially their discipline?
  3. Is Damian Willemse up to the challenge of being the Stormers first choice flyhalf?
  4. How would the Stormers do in the scrums and lineouts without Etzebeth and du Toit?
  5. How would the Stormers improve on their defensive frailties of 2017?

Let’s start with a quick summary of the game.

The Game:

The Stormers beat the Jaguares 28-20 in Cape Town on Saturday.

The Stormers scored three tries, through De Allende, Kolisi, and Rhule, while Damian Willemse converted two of the three tries and also slotted 3 penalties.

Willemse suffered the ignominy of having a conversion kick charged down, something that might happen in schools’ rugby, but I that have never seen in Super Rugby before.

The Jaguares scored one try through winger Boffelli, and were awarded a Penalty Try by referee Jaco Peyper.  Sanchez converted the try and slotted a penalty, while Boffelli converted a long-range penalty to give the Jaguares their 20 points.

The first couple of minutes were a see-saw affair, with the game swinging from one end to the other. In the 2nd minute the Stormers had the opportunity to kick at posts as the Jaguares gave away their first penalty of 2018, but captain Kolisi chose to go for the corner kick and a lineout. The home side took the ball up to the 5m mark, then Dillyn Leyds lost it forward and the Jaguares immediately counterattacked with the ball going from hand to hand all the way to the Stormers 5m mark. The ref takes them back for an earlier indiscretion, and Sanchez slots the penalty. The Jaguares lead after 5 minutes of frantic rugby.

In the 6th minute Dillyn Leyds again loses the ball, on the halfway line. The Jaguares go on a hand to hand attack for the next 4 minutes, before the Stormers get some relief and the game meanders in the midfield with the teams exchanging possession. The game explodes into action in the 16th minute when Seabelo Senatla gets his hands on the ball for the first time, and makes some quick meters, stepping past two on the way to a kick chase and a scrum on the Jaguares 5m line for the hosts.

In the 18th minute De Allende uses his feet and cuts past four Jaguares to score the first try of the 2018 Super Rugby season. Willemse converts.

In the 21st minute Boffelli lands a long-range penalty to pull the Jaguares up to six points.

Some more super hand to hand stuff by the Jaguares is stopped, the ball turned over and the Stormers move it wide, followed by another Senatla break, well supported by Leyds. On the Jaguares 22m line Leyds coughs up a penalty when quick ball would have given a clear try scoring opportunity. Silly mistake!

Senatla is showing his worth as he again gets his hands on the ball and breaks the Jaguares line to carry the ball some 30 meters to the Jaguares 22. Tucelet plays the ball, slowing possession to the Stormers and earns the Jaguares 1st yellow card of 2018. Willemse slots the penalty.

In the 28th minute the Stormers again butcher a try scoring opportunity when they lose the ball forward on the Jaguares 22. And silly mistake.

31st minute and Kolisi scores with a midfield carry after a lineout on the Jaguares 22. Willemse’s conversion kick gets charged down. Another silly mistake!

The Jaguares attack for the next three minutes, and then a series of reset scrums end in a penalty for the Jaguares in the 39th. They go for the corner, the Stormers turn the ball over and the teams go in for half-time.

Straight after the halftime break Raymond Rhule gets his first try as a Stormer, after a great offload by Nizaam Carr.

In the 45th the Jaguares score their first try of the year as Boffelli sneaks through against the touchline.

In the 48th the Stormers again lose the ball forward while attacking on the Jaguares 22m line.

The 50th minute sees yet another ball lost forward by the Stormers.

Stormers are attacking, but making silly mistakes. Leyds gets caught with the ball while dancing around but going nowhere. This is the third time he has been caught behind the gain line.

In the 54th minute Rhule chases a De Allende chip, but Boffelli gets a hand there first, to ground the ball in-goal.

A penalty in the 56th, the 10th one of the game against the Jaguares, gives Willemse the chance to stretch the lead. He pops it over.

The Stormers seem to go off the boil and the Jaguares use the opportunity to attack the line over and over again. Stormers clearance kicks do not go far enough, allowing the Jaguares to remain within the Stormers’ half. One by Duvenhage is particularly poor.

The referee has issues a general warning to the Stormers, and when Samuels infringes on the ground he is shown a yellow in the 64th. Silly Mistake!

This is a disaster for the Stormers as they have to immediately face the Jaguares attacking scrum on the 5m line. After a reset, Peyper awards a penalty try to the Jaguares.

The Stormers look to be somewhat bewildered as the Jaguares kick up a gear, but some resolute defence by the home team, particularly one or two of the replacements, keeps them at bay.

In the 77th minute the Stormers, back to full strength in the scrum, win a scrum and take the ball up field through the middle. Leyds is prominent in the attack, but the ball goes into touch off a Jaguare. An off-the-ball shoving incident during this attack leads to a penalty, which Willemse slots and the full-time whistle blows.

It was helter-skelter stuff all game, and both sides deserve mention for never giving up.

Early season jitters, lots of silly mistakes, lots and lots of handling errors, and a host of wrong options, by both teams.

And that is about all I can say about the game itself.

The Stormers struggled for a solid front row with Ramone Samuels slotting in when Bongi Mbonambi was rushed to hospital for an appendectomy. Samuels seemed to struggle to stay with his props, his shoulders never quite straight enough, and this disrupted the scrums. He was also just a bit off the mark at the lineouts, and in the close-in ball carrying units, where Mbonambi has become a very valuable player.

Those Questions:

Would the Stormers improve on the handling and finish more try scoring opportunities, taking their game another step forward from 2017?

At the moment, the answer is “no!” – Their handling was atrocious, as they butchered at least three try scoring opportunities. Ten linebreaks and seven tackle breaks, and they only managed 3 tries?

They do have some superb strike runners out wide, and they will grow as the season progresses. Dillyn Leyds is a known attacking factor, once he gets his game going. He made a number of silly mistakes, especially when he looked to run with the ball but appeared undecided which foot to step off, invariably getting caught with the ball.

Damian de Allende seems to have found his game that went missing last year. He looked good with the ball in hand, albeit a bit selfish at times. Made good yards with the ball in hand, and was unstoppable when scoring his try. Good on defence too.

Bad handling cost the Stormers at least 3 tries and a bonus point!

Jaguares Game Plan & Discipline.

Has the new coach and captain at the Jaguares had any effect on how they play the game, especially their discipline?

No, and No. They still play a game based on counterattacking off the scraps. They still play a disruptive, abrasive game designed to rattle and confuse. They have no discernable game plan. Hand to hand movement of the ball is all good and well, but you need to have a follow up tactic when the movement stops. There was no second line of attack forming up, ever.

And their discipline remains atrocious. I am not sure of the final count, by my own count there were fourteen penalties and a yellow card. Augustin Creevy might not be captain anymore, but he constantly questioned Jaco Peyper’s decisions, a less lenient referee might have taken exception.

Damian Willemse

Is Damian Willemse up to the challenge of being the Stormers first choice flyhalf?

Look after him well, Stormers and South Africa, he is a gem in the making.

More willing to tackle than Curwin Bosch, and just as exciting with the ball in hand. He takes the ball flat and gets his outside backs moving.

Etzebeth & Du Toit.

The replacement locks did well enough in the lineouts, but they do not have the midfield presence of Etzebeth nor the ball carrying skills of du Toit. They were especially missed in the scrums where they provide more power than their stand-ins.

Stormers Defence.

Oy Vey….. This was a game where both sides pretended that defence was not really a part of rugby. Suffice to say that the Stormers scrambled better than their opponents, and their close in defence was often monstrous. They will need an awful lot of improvement if they do not want to bleed tries in Australasia!

In cold hard statistics, the Stormers managed an 87% tackle success rate, the Jaguares were way down at 73%.

This was not a game of rugby that will be included in the end-of-season highlights package.

The scorers:

For Stormers:
Tries:
 De Allende, Kolisi, Rhule
Cons: Willemse 2
Pens: Willemse 3
Yellow Card: Samuels

For Jaguares:
Tries: 
Boffelli, Penalty Try
Con: Sanchez
Pens: Sanchez, Boffelli
Yellow Card: Tuculet