Super Rugby

Weekend Review & Thoughts

Round Eleven 

Round Eleven of a strange Super Rugby season is consigned to history. 

As I was sitting thinking about the weekend’s rugby my cell-phone’s screen switched itself on and a couple of messages appeared on the screen, accompanied by electronic beeps and pinging noises. My phone is one of these modern gadgets termed a “smart-phone” and it frequently does things that I have not asked it to do. It makes that irritating ‘ping’ noise when someone shares a thought or sends a message, or when an e-mail arrives from somewhere. 

It buzzes when it wants me to do something – my daughter apparently told it to remind me to take my daily meds. (I am of an age where I have to take more pills with each passing birthday celebration… I fear I am held together chemically, some kind of super-glue in tablet form.)

Not only does this “phone” make all kinds of strange electronic noises, every once in a while it frightens a year or two off my life by talking to me unexpectedly. 

Someone called “Siri” starts talking in my shirt pocket, which has caused me to make some pretty weird breakdancing moves in the strangest of places. There is the young waitress in our local coffee shop who has takes my order from the safety of the other side of the neighbouring tables.

I digress – this is supposed to be about Saturday’s rugby.

My phone screen scrolled a couple of messages that I could not read without that other life-aid of the aging, the reading spectacles. Once I had found the specs and perched them on my noe, all the messages had disappeared, except for my News24 feed. 

This newsy note said “Mixed results for SA Super Rugby Conference Teams”

And that got me thinking, just slightly puzzled by the headline. “Mixed Results?” 

The Stormers, the Sharks, and the Jaguares won their matches. The Bulls lost to a fellow South African team, and the Lions lost to the table topping Crusaders. 

The Bulls earned a losing bonus point in their loss to the Stormers…..

In my somewhat parochial view, those are pretty good results. Only the Lions did not come away from the weekend with log points. 

However, that headline also got me thinking about the actual log positions in the South African conference and how everybody is going on and on about how tight and unpredictable the SA Conference is at the moment.

Yes, this is true.

But this is also true of the entire Super Rugby competition at the moment.

Take a look at the other conferences!

Save for the table-topping Crusaders, who seem to be heading straight into another home final, almost every other playoff spot in the 2019 Super Rugby competition is still up for grabs!

Perhaps only the Sunwolves are truly out of contention – they have six games left in the last 7 rounds of the regular season, of which four games are away from home – two in Australia, one in South Africa, and one in Argentina. To have a hope of qualifying they would need to bank six wins, 24 points to add to their current 11, which would see them finishing with 35 points and contesting at the top of the Aussie conference. A couple of bonus points would also help their cause. 

This is as likely as snow in the middle of the Saharan summer.

The rest of the Aussie conference, with the Rebels at the top and the Reds sitting down in fourth, are separated by just 6 points. The Rebels have 24, and the Reds 18. The Brumbies and the Waratahs sit on 20 points apiece. All of the Rebels, Reds, and the Waratahs have seven fixtures remaining in the last 7 weeks, whilst the Brumbies have six to play.

Any one of those four could still top the Aussie conference and qualify for a home quarterfinal. 

It is that tight!

Over in New Zealand the log is equally tight. Yes, the Crusaders are way out in front with 39 points and 8 wins in their 10 games, with 5 bonus points too. Three of their last 6 games are at home, against the Sharks, the Blues, and the Rebels. One would figure them to be favourites for at least 2 wins in those three games, if not in all three. They do have a slightly niggly trip to South Africa where they face the Bulls and the Stormers, and another away game in New Zealand against the Chiefs before they end their regular season. Again, they will be favoured to win all three those away games. The Crusaders look untouchable at this time.

However, the rest of the New Zealand conference sees the Hurricanes on 32 points, the Highlanders on 23, and the Blues on 20, with the Blues having a game in hand over the others. Only the Chiefs could be considered to be out of the running for a playoff slot at this time. Their 17 points looks a bit thin.

Any one, or all three, of the ‘Canes, the Highlanders, or the Blues could still qualify for wild-card slots in the playoffs. The Blues, with 7 games left, could easily win four, bank 16 points, add a bonus point or two, and be in the late 30’s when the final points tally is posted at the end of the regular season.

At the moment, the NZ conference is perhaps the easiest to call for an outright winner – the Crusaders do seem to have it in the bag, but the rest of the conference is too tight to call.

And then there is the South African conference, where all five teams are still in contention, with just 4 points between the current log leaders, the Sharks on 26, and the bottom feeders, the Lions on 22.

Is this not what a rugby competition is supposed to be about?

Closeness of competition and unpredictability of the outcome?

I heard the Doom and Gloomers whinging about the South African teams and their inconsistency and unpredictable performances, yet I am seeing exactly the same level of inconsistency and unpredictability in both the other conferences too!  

Save for the Crusaders, the Sunwolves, and probably the Chiefs, everyone else is in much the similar position with unpredictable results and hot-and-cold performances. 

Even the Hurricanes, who are next best to the Crusaders, with 7 wins in 10 starts, have had some very iffy performances throughout the season. Consider that they have scored 282 points, and conceded 245, for a positive points difference of just 37, a positive average of just +3,7 per game! (The Crusaders average a point spread of +14,7 – illustrating their superiority over everyone ese.)

In reality, there have been very few run-away wins in the 2019 competition. (Of course there are exceptions, but taken over the 11 rounds played so far, the big numbers have been few and far between.)

Digging a bit deeper, the South African conference is not only very evenly contested, but no single team has a losing record!All five teams have won 5 games, although the Bulls and Jaguares do have a game in hand over the rest. The points difference on the log comes from bonus points earned, with the likes of the Sharks earning 3 losing bonus points to add to their 3 try-scoring bonusses!

(Will the Stormers rue handing a losing bonus point to the Bulls on Saturday?)

Outside the South African conference, only the Crusaders, the Hurricanes, and the Aussie Rebels have a similar winning record in 2019!  

This 2019 Super Rugby competition, for all its many flaws and unworkably stupid structures and fixture lists, is still the tightest in all of Super Rugby history.

I again ask the question: 

Is this not exactly what a rugby competition is supposed to be all about? 

Another Thing…..

During the last couple of years we have been treated to a litany of complaints about referees and their supposed bias against one or another team. Nobody has been quite as vocal in his complaints about the referees than a certain Michael Cheika, the current Head Coach of the Australian Wallabies. I will not revisit his record in this respect, you can scroll through the archive on this website and you will find previous comments and discussions in this regard.

However, I do wish to point out that there seems to be an Australian approach to dealing with match officials that is close to being blatantly adversarial, and often borders on gamesmanship and even unsporting conduct. 

Australian captains have taken to questioning and often disagreeing with referees throughout the course of a game. They question every single blow of the whistle, and often seem to be deliberately slowing the game down as they immediately and vocally approach the referee after a penalty has been given against their team, effectively taking momentum out of the moment and preventing their opponent from playing a quick ball and capitalising on any advantage that might accrue from such a tap-penalty.

Stephen Moore was a master of this tactic, be it as captain of the Wallabies or as captain of the Brumbies. David Pocock, when he captained the Wallabies, and when wearing a Brumbies jersey is another – even when he is not the designated captain.

Michael Hooper has built on the foundation laid by his predecessors and has taken the questioning and disagreement to a point where I would suggest he has crossed the line between what is, perhaps, acceptable if unsavoury, and sheer gamesmanship and outright rudeness.

Let me illustrate the most recent such a moment.

In the 56th minute of Saturday’s match between the Waratahs and Sharks, referee Nic Berry had consulted with his Assistant Referees, and the TMO, and had decided that Jed Holloway’s elbow to the head of Thomas du Toit was worth a red card. Thomas du Toit would be shown a yellow card for his part in the incident. 

The decision was made, and was to my mind and even in the eyes of the often utterly jingoistic Aussie commentators, 100% correct.

Nic Berry told Michael Hooper that Holloway would be sent off, and Hooper responded exactly as he has done every time he disagrees with a referee. He immediately interrupted the referee as he was explaining his decision! He spoke over the top of the referee!

Hooper said, “It’s not intentional on the head. He was not looking at him. You can’t say that. He’s connected,”to which Nic Berry calmly responded, “I’ve seen it differently, Michael”. He then sent Holloway off.

First and foremost, it was unacceptable and rude of Hooper to interrupt the referee while he was talking. 

Secondly. He demonstrated a clear lack of understanding of the Law. If you throw a punch or swing an elbow, and connect, you have breached the law. That action was intentional. Period. Whether he “intended” to connect with the head is immaterial to the discussion.

Thirdly, even if it was an incorrect decision (and it most certainly was not!) no amount of anger and dissent is going to change the referee’s decision! Arguing with a referee is pointless, I have never seen a referee change his mind because of a player arguing with him.

Fourth, what relevance is a captain’s opinion of a referee’s decision? I would suggest none. In much the same way that the referee will not question a captain’s decision to kick for the corner or kick for posts at a penalty. It is absolutely irrelevant!

Finally, I heard it said that the Aussie approach to arguing and dissenting with referee decisions is based on the belief that they will cause the referee to doubt his decisions and thus favour the dissenter when the next 50/50 call is made.

I very much doubt whether that is a worthy belief. In most cases all you are doing is getting up the nose of the referee and likely to cause him to sway those 50/50 calls against you!

Michael Hooper persists with arguing with referees. He consistently does so in a less-than-respectful manner, and that is not likely to win friends and influence people. As has been said: “Honey attracts more flies than vinegar”and Hooper is putting out way too much vinegar. 

The Red Card Incident

As for the incident between Jed Holloway and Thomas du Toit?

Du Toit was wholly wrong when he held Holloway back, it was cheating, it was illegal, and it was wrong. 

Without a doubt he provoked Holloway.

Holloway’s reaction was predictable, we have seen many a player smashing at and hitting the forearm of the hand that is holding him into a maul or ruck, and such a reaction is usually ignored by match officials as being part of the game. 

Where Holloway went too far was by using an elbow to the head. That reaction went beyond what is acceptable, and cost him his time on the field of play.

It may come at an even higher cost. The minimum “entry level” suspension for a strike to the head is six weeks. The most a judicial hearing can do is reduce the prescribed sentence by half – so he will be lucky to get just three weeks for his reaction. He might get more, as rugby is focussed on eradicating dangerous contact with the head!

Niggles and Off-The-Ball Stuff.

Some of the Aussie media have had their knives out for Thomas du Toit after the Holloway incident. He has been called a “small-minded cheat” along with a couple of other similarly uncomplimentary names.

I have to agree with them! 

It is, without the shadow of a doubt, cheating.

But Thomas du Toit was not alone. 

In that same game of rugby between the Waratahs and the Sharks I saw Kurtley Beale holding a Shark back in broken play, I saw Andre Esterhuizen holding a Waratah back. I saw shoulder charges, I saw obstructive running and bumps to put a kick-chaser off his stride. I saw tugging in the lineouts, I saw obstructive binding in the lineouts. I saw players deliberately held into the ruck. I saw legs being lifted in the maul. I saw players being cleaned from the fringe of a ruck when they were not part of that ruck. I saw players step past or over a ruck and then stand in obstructive positions without being part of the ruck. I saw the slightly late tackles, I saw the slightly early tackles……

I saw many many things that are illegal in a rugby game. I saw a host of incidents of the niggling conduct that has become prevalent in the modern game of rugby.

But, the worst of it is that this niggling conduct was unpunished. This kind of conduct has gone unpunished for a number of years, and because it goes unpunished, players keep doing it. 

Rugby needs to take a very long hard look at itself, and decide where the line should be drawn, and then that line must be publicly and visibly drawn, and then rigorously enforced, defended even.

Some Moments

The Quote of the Year?

Chiefs prop Angus Ta’avao was asked what it was like to move from tighthead to loosehead for the his team. His description kinda makes sense:  “Imagine going to the toilet and being right-handed, and then you’ve got to use your left hand.”

Jordie Barrett’s 6thMinute Try

For me, one of the two tries of the weekend. 

Damian McKenzie might be out of the Rugby World Cup, but the All Blacks need not worry about their fullback depth. The try that Jordie Barrett scored in the 6thminute of the game between the Hurricanes and the Crusaders might well have been one of those miracle moments that McKenzie is so good at constructing. But it was not McKenzie, it was one of the Barrett brothers and it was brilliant.

What made it more so was that this try, in the 6thminute, was Jordie Barrett’s second try of the game. He has also scored in the 2ndminute.

Yet, this second try was special. It was an individual effort that started as a counter-attack, running a great line, and then slicing through the Chiefs’ defensive line like the proverbial hot knife through butter.

Herschel Jantjies’ Try

Herschel Jantjies might have scored it, and his support line running was superb as he took the pop pass from Dillyn Leyds to go over for the score, but the try really belongs to Leyds, who proved a menace with ball in hand every time he touched it.

Leyds was simply sublime as he fielded a wayward kick, cut, stepped, ghosted and evaded a bunch of Bulls’ defenders to set up Jantjies’ try.

It was thing of beauty – one of the reasons we watch rugby.

Kwagga Smith Bounced By Sevu Reece

In the 35thminute of the Lions vs Crusaders cash in Christchurch, Lions’ No 8 Kwagga Smith was sent flying in a collision with Crusaders’ wing Sevu Reece on his way to scoring a fantastic try.

You can revisit the moment on Youtube by following this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CB9QhAjY9zY

Sorry Kwagga, but it is also one of the reasons we watch the game of rugby!

Some Players:

Curwin Bosch is certainly laying down a marker with regard to his preferred position on a rugby field. After sending most of 2019 being wasted on the reserve bench or at fullback for the Sharks, in his first start at 10, we saw a Sharks backline that suddenly seemed to be playing off the front foot as they seemed to enjoy his passing and attacking vision. It was not a perfect display by any means, but it was encouraging, especially after the Sharks back division had looked somewhat static and uninspiring under the guidance of Robert du Preez (Jnr) at flyhalf.

Dillyn Leyds has continued his good form of recent weeks with yet another standout performance for the Stormers against the Bulls on Saturday. Every time he touched the ball there was an almost audible moment of expectation amongst the Newlands faithful as they waited to see what he would do. He was a menace with the ball in hand, made all his tackles, and popped up time and again to take the Stormers’ attack forwards. He carried the ball 10 times, making 94 meters in the process, for a high average of 9,4 meters per carry. There were two line breaks and three tackle breaks, along with some accurate passing and offloading. 

He must be very close to a Springbok call-up again.

Sevu Reeceis one of 2019’s standout performers out on the wing. The way he bumped off Kwagga Smith is mentioned elsewhere in this review, a moment that gave him the first of two tries. It could have been three. If Reece can keep playing the way he did on Friday night, he may just get a call from Steve Hansen.

Aaron Smithis back from injury, and it looks as if the break to recover was all he needed to find his game. He was playing the kind of rugby everyone knows he can produce as he bossed the Highlanders game as they walloped the Sunwolves in Tokyo, 52-0. It was a game full of accurate, torpedo passes, darting, teasing runs and probes. Exactly what New Zealand want from their hugely gifted halfback as they prepare for the RWC in Japan.

Ardie Savea I would guess that his ticket for Japan has already been booked and paid for? 

Unless he gets a devastating injury, Ardie Savea is a dead certainty for the 2019 All Blacks. 2019 has been the best season of his life, and this weekend he put in yet another incredible performance. 

It has been a season of big Savea tackles, big Savea steals and big Savea tries. 

But the standout aspect of his game has been his power and leg-drive with the ball in hand. He is almost unstoppable as he tries to get that extra meter, that extra step, just one more inch, with every carry of the ball.

On Saturday against the Chiefs, his impact was best summed up by the try he scored 15 minutes into the second half. First he personally turned over the ball 90 metres from the Chiefs’ line. He gave the ball to TJ Perenara, and then followed his scrumhalf in close support, yelling and pointing in case Perenara hadn’t noticed Jordie Barrett was outside him. 

Perenara handed the ball to Barrett. Somehow Savea still had enough in the tank to stay with Barrett and take the final pass, and then bash past a couple of defenders to score! 

It was a remarkable bit of rugby by a man in the form of his life.

Damian Willemsetook a big step forward this weekend. Playing at fullback, he made 17 carries for 146 metres with the ball in hand, one very good line break, with six defenders beaten, and he also managed one excellent try assist. He missed a tackle, but made 4.

His passing was accurate with 10 passes and an offload, although there was one more pass that went astray.

His positional play was very good, especially when covering Bulls’ kicks into the Stormers’ 22.

His running with the ball in hand as he accelerated into the space past an opponent B, and then outstripped Trevor Nyakane, before drawing the cover tackle, setting Seabelo Senatla free to use his pace and running skill for the try. His next huge moment came when he chased a kick to put massive pressure on Handré Pollard in the Bulls’ 22. Pollard tried to run the ball out of the defence, but was held by Willemse, forcing the flyhalf to shovel the ball to Manie Libbok, who fluffed his clearance kick, which was taken by Dillyn Leyds for the run that ended in Herschel Jantjies’ try.

Willemse was not the complete package at fullback, he was party to the silliness in the final seconds when the Stormers decided to run from behind their goal line, after the siren had sounded. They might have been looking for a bonus point, but all they did was hand a losing bonus point to the Bulls! It was a moment of silliness that demonstrated his youth and inexperience.

Some Other Thoughts

Oy Vey Ist Mir, Waratahs.

Oh dear, the Waratahs seem to be in a bit of trouble, and it has nothing to do with Israel Folau and his social media scribblings.

This is a team that is simply not performing anywhere near the level that their names and paper pedigree suggests.

So many supposed stars, so few performers.

The stats tell us that they actually dominated both possession and territory against the Sharks, but somehow found ways of ensuring that the visitors from Durban stayed in the game and were handed the advantage over and over again.

Jed Holloway’s stupid elbow to Thomas du Toit’s face was just one of the moments. 

Just minutes after Holloway departed proceedings it was Jack Dempsey, who seemed to be saying “I’ll show you something even sillier….” and got himself said sin binned for a dangerous tackle. 

This left the ‘Tahs with just 13 men on the field and handed the game to the Sharks. 

Once again the leadership of Michael Hooper was missing in action as he chose to pick a fight with the referee rather than rally his troops. With so many supposedly senior players in their squad one would have expected one or more of the others to put their hand up and take control while the captain went off on his lone loose cannon campaign. Nobody did.

More’s the pity as the Sharks were not playing particularly well. Even with 14 men, the ‘Tahs could have won this one, but they did not, and it is sad refection on their supposed stars.

If I were a Wallaby supporter I would be very worried. Very, very worried. This Waratah outfit represents the core of the Wallaby team favoured by Michael Cheika during the last couple of years.  If they are playing so badly as the ‘Tahs, then things don’t bode well for the Wallabies. 

Sunwolves

I read an article by Michael Burgess in the New Zealand Herald saying that the departure of the Sunwolves is a major mistake by Sanzaar and Super Rugby. He goes on about the super atmosphere created in and around the Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium by the fans dressed in team merchandise and their wolf-howl cries every time a scrum sets.

I guess he is correct, if your only criteria for survival is fans having fun in the stands.

However, this is still a rugby match in a top-level rugby competition, so the quality of the rugby out on the field of play must also be one of the many criteria used to measure whether a team belongs or not. This is not a Justin Bieber concert, it is a rugby match.

And from that point of view, the Sunwolves do not deserve to be playing Super Rugby. Period.

Their own coach, Tony Brown, is on record as saying We were lucky to get zero against the Highlanders” 

Perhaps there is room for a Japanese based team in a second tier rugby competition? 

Perhaps they need to get some Japanese rugby players out on the field? This week they started with 12 foreigners in the run-on team. Last week it was 13. 

The Weekend’s Games

Crusaders 36 – 10 Lions

I doubt whether the presence of Warren Whiteley and/or Malcolm Marx would have made the slightest difference in the result of this game..

The 36-10 scoreline showed the gulf in class between the two teams.

The Crusaders dominated most facets of the game, as is evident in the stats: The Crusaders made 587 meters with the ball in 148 carries. The Lions made 225 meters in 86 carries. The Crusaders beat 25 defenders, the Lions 14. The Crusaders made 15 clean breaks, the Lions just 8.

The Lions were forced to make 185 tackles compared to the Crusaders’ 118. The Lions missed 25 tackles, the Crusaders just 14.

The Lions lost two of the seven scrums awarded to them, while the hosts won all four of theirs.

It was men against boys all the way. The Lions tried hard, but no matter how hard they tried, they were never going to be good enough.

Sunwolves 0 – 52 Highlanders

The Highlanders simply tore the Sunwolves to pieces. 

The Sunwolves had no answer at all to the intensity and the accuracy of the Highlanders. They ran in eight tries and, perhaps even more impressively, didn’t concede a single point all game.

There is really nothing more to report on this game.

Hurricanes 47 – 19 Chiefs

This was set up to be an interesting game. Both teams had struggled, in one way or another, to get themselves going in 2019. The Chiefs in particular had seemed woefully out of sorts until a couple of weeks back in their previous game against this same Hurricanes outfit, when the Chiefs suddenly found something in their game and consequently drew 23-all with the ‘Canes.

Well, that new-found form did not last.

Back at home the Hurricanes wasted no time as they scored two tries in the opening six minutes, both of them to fullback Jordie Barrett, which set them up for a wholly dominant performance that ended with the score on 47-19. 

Beauden Barrett was back at his best as the game manager in the 10 jersey, while brother Jordie was having fun running from the back with the Chiefs giving him plenty of space and time to do whatever he wanted. Ardie Savea was all over the place, worrying, harrying, carrying…..

The Hurricanes have been remarkably inconsistent in 2019, and have not found the levels of play we are used to seeing them produce in previous seasons.Yep, they have won plenty of games, but some have been horribly close and could easily have gone the other way.

On Saturday against the Chiefs it did look like the ‘Canes had started to find form.

They just looked comfortable, and confident, all afternoon, especially in defence. They only had 39 per cent of the ball and had to do a lot more tackling than the Chiefs – 162 tackles compared to 99 – but they just did not seem to be under pressure. It was all very calm and composed as they waited to force the error and then counterattack.

They will have one small point of concern. Their forwards are not dominating, and that will be a problem against the likes of the Crusaders!

Waratahs 15 – 23 Sharks

Sharks fans will be delirious with this win. A win away from home is always good. A win after the horrendousness of the last two weeks must taste like fresh baked bread to a starving man.

Yet……..

How on earth did the Sharks allow the Waratahs to stay in the game and come so close to earning a losing bonus point?

Playing with a one-man numerical advantage for 34 minutes and a two-man advantage for 10 of those 34 minutes, I would suggest that the Sharks should have banked a try-scoring bonus point and done something about their points spread numbers.

This was a game, against a woefully underperforming ‘Tahs outfit, where the Sharks should have stepped up to the mark, turned on the afterburners and blown the Aussies away.

And they did not.

The visitors dominated most of the physical exchanges and looked a far cry from the team that lost so badly at home to the Reds and Jaguares.

But there are some very real questions that need answering.

How did the ‘Tahs still carry the ball more, and further than the Sharks? How did the Waratahs still beat more defenders and make more clean breaks than the Sharks? The Waratahs made more passes, more offloads, won more rucks, had a better lineout success rate, and were even in the scrums.

Despite playing with 13 men for 10 minutes and 14 men for 34 minutes.

These are the things that Sharks’ supporters must be thinking about!

Stormers 24 – 23 Bulls

Sometimes you watch a rugby match and can quickly come to the conclusion that one side is going to win, not matter what the other tries to do about it.

This was one of those games. 

The Stormers might well have been in a giving mood when they handed the Bulls a losing bonus point after the final whistle had sounded, but they never looked like they might lose this game.

The Stormers won the physical battle against Bulls, there was far more focus and intent on the attack, and an increased clinical approach that has been the one missing ingredient in the Stormers’ game all year. They lost to the Blues and the ‘Canes because they did not finish promising moments and did not use their opportunities. 

They did it again a week ago against the Brumbies.  

This time around they were a different side altogether. 

This was primarily a real team effort as they produced an impressive defensive effort to stymie the Bulls, time and again. The Bulls had 58% of the possession, and 63% of the territorial advantage, but they simply could not find a way through the Stormers. (They did butcher a couple of opportunities too!)

Much like the Stormers of previous weeks, the Bulls found finishing promising moments something of a mystery. 

Manie Libbok might have enjoyed his after-the-siren try at the end of the game, celebrating somewhat excessively after he had broken through the Stormers line, but he thoroughly butchered the Bulls’ best opportunity to score earlier, when he selfishly clung to the ball when a pass out wide was all it would take for an unopposed try!

It was also his wayward clearance kick that handed the ball to Dillyn Leyds and ended with Jantjies’ try!

This was an important match for the Stormers and they impressed in the focussed way in which they worked for each other.

A couple of players are certainly starting to find form as the season progresses.

Damian de Allende is looking quick, lean, and hungry in the midfield and he was an influential presence with the ball in hand and when running his support lines. He is looking better and better in the 12 jersey. Made 14 carries, ran 71m and beat five defenders.Missed a couple of tackles, though.

I have already mentioned both Dillyn Leyds and Damian Willemse, both looking good.

Siya Kolisi is starting to return to top form, making 14 tackles and completing 11 carries for 27m.

RG Snyman is looking better and better with every game. His ball skills have improved beyond measure. All he has to do now is ensure that those offloads go to someone in his own team!

This being the biggest of the South African derbies there are always massive collisions and brutal tackles. There is always a worry of injuries to important players.

South Africa is holding its collective breath that Pieter-Steph du Toit ‘s injury is not too serious, while Jesse Kriel’s ankle might also be a problem for the Springbok selectors.

The Stormers deserved this win.

Jaguares 20 – Brumbies 15

Brumbies’ indiscipline will haunt them after their 20 – 15 loss to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires. Mistakes, silly errors, and missed opportunities were the story of the day. 

All of the action took place in the first half, with the game simply falling flat in a dour second 40. The only points of the second half came from a penalty goal to Jaguares’ flyhalf Domingo Miotti.
The Jaguares lost Marcos Kremer to the sin-bin in a game that had deteriorated into an undisciplined arm-wrestle in the second half, the penalty count going against the home side 11-6. 

The Brumbies edged the scrums and lineouts, taking 16 lineouts to five, also stealing three of the Jaguares’ throws. But the Brumbies missed 25 tackles and conceded 17 turnovers as the two teams bored the crowd to tears in the second half.

I went to bed about 5 minutes into the second 40, and fast-forwarded through the second half the next morning. Even that was a waste of time.