SIMON BORCHARDT looks at five talking points from the past weekend’s Super Rugby matches.
Sharks can strike from anywhere
Three tries in an eight-minute purple patch at the end of the first half gave the Sharks a commanding 27-3 lead against the Highlanders in Dunedin. Coach Sean Everitt would have been most satisfied with the third try – winger Makazole Mapimpi’s second – which came after the Highlanders had lost possession inside Sharks’ territory. Everitt has spoken about the need for his team to make an effective transition from defence to attack and that’s exactly what they did here.
From Mdantsane to Dunedin… Makazole Mapimpi cannot be stopped 💥🇿🇦
— SuperSport 🏆 (@SuperSportTV) February 7, 2020
Notshe excels in black and white
Sikhumbuzo Notshe became a Springbok while playing in Cape Town but never reached his potential. A move to Durban could prove to be career-defining for the No 8 as the Sharks’ style of play clearly suits him. Notshe played an important linking role in Dunedin, doing well to get a pass away in the tackle in the build-up to Mapimpi’s first try and then making an excellent one-handed offload that led to the winger’s second. He ended up with 44 running metres from six carries and completed all six of his tackles.
Lions’ scrum woes
The Lions beat the Reds 27-20 at Ellis Park but coach Ivan Rooyen will be concerned about their set-piece performance. The hosts conceded several scrum penalties, with the Reds’ South African loosehead prop JP Smith giving former Bok tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis a torrid time. Such was the Reds’ scrum dominance that when tighthead prop Taniela Tupou and his replacement Josh Nasser were both in the sin bin, they were still able to win a scrum on the Lions’ feed. The hosts also lost three lineouts on Saturday, but were, fortunately, able to assert themselves through the driving maul.
Stormers keep another clean sheet
The Stormers are yet to concede a point after 180 minutes of rugby this season, having beaten the Hurricanes 27-0 and the Bulls 13-0 over the past two weeks. To put that achievement into context, in the 24 previous years of Super Rugby, the Cape franchise had only kept opponents scoreless on three occasions – against the Highlanders in 2010 (33-0), Cheetahs in 2014 (33-0) and Bulls (16-0) in 2014. On Saturday, the Stormers made 100 tackles from 119 attempts (84%) with captain Steven Kitshoff saying their defensive effort ‘showed a lot of character’.
Bulls turn down three points – again and again
The Stormers should never have kept a clean sheet at Newlands, though, as the Bulls were awarded several kickable penalties during the third quarter of the match while camped in the opposition 22. However, instead of taking a gimmie three points, the visitors either opted to scrum or kick for the corner and set up a lineout, only to come away with nothing. A kick at goal when the opportunity first presented itself would have made it 13-3 with plenty of time remaining, and perhaps ensured the Bulls were within striking distance late in the game. Instead, they only had a losing bonus point to play for and weren’t even able to achieve that.
Photo: Steve Haag/Hollywoodbets