So, the first shots have been fired… Here’s what I’ve learnt from the opening semi-round.
As expected the Lions pack just had too much fire-power for the visiting Sharks. Jacques van Rooyen must have been ticking off the days to his opening round match-up with Thomas du Toit like a kid before Christmas. His gift came in the form of a young prop being forced to apply his trade on the “wrong” side of the scrum and the experienced Lion’s loosehead proceeded to rip open his present on game day with wild excitement, leaving debris in his wake.
The Sharks’outside backs actually looked quite sharp (with both wingers getting on the score sheet) which promises much, but the most potent of backlines will help you as much as a raincoat in Cape Town if you can’t give them the required platform from which to launch.The Lions got off to the start they would have been looking for but in my opinion the questions around the stewardship of Swys de Bruin will only start to be answered later down the line. As it is the men from Jo-burg have a rather cosy looking few weeks to come and should find themselves in fine fettle atop the log in a month’s time.
On the topic of the Lions let me put this one thing out there from the get-go: Kwagga Smith regardless of size is the type of player I would gladly have in my side any day of the week. Pierre Spies was a physical specimen yet never carried the ball with as much intent nor made a tackle with as much commitment and courage as the “little”Kwagga does time and again. Before the end of this Super Rugby season I will make the Sevens star trend and force his national team inclusion - #makethezebraaspringbok!
The clash between the Stormers and the Jaguares offered few real answers. The Stormers showed some moments of flair, with the fleet-footed and supremely gifted Damian Willemse, showcasing his incredible skill. Whilst there were some sexy moments from the Capetonians there were also instances that made them look like they were only peddling cheap tricks on the corner. Of serious concern to Flecky and his merry men is the loss of Bongi Mbonambi. Rambo Samuels is less reliable at lineout time than Ernie Els over a five-foot putt and an entire Australasian tour with him in the number two jumper could prove disastrous.
The Argentines relied on a strong forward effort to bring them back into the contest but again there were some moments of ill-discipline costing them at crucial times. With their tails up the South Americans can find some good attacking rhythm making them hard to stop but these moments are few and far between. There just seems to be a lack of cohesion and the team spirit and passion which has often made the Argentine national side a tough stumbling block to overcome appears to be lacking in the Super Rugby side.
The tournament finally gets underway for real this weekend and I can’t wait to see the sparks fly. Of real interest will be the New Zealand derbies as those are always bruising affairs. And then the Bulls and the Hurricanes also promises to be an open running occasion between the Mitchell mentored bulletjies and surely one of the most lethal attacking units in world rugby in the Canes. The men from the Jacaranda city will do well to weather the expected storm coming their way on Saturday.
Who is Couch Critic?
Hein Diemont is the resident “Couch Critic” in the Goodforthegame Forum and he shares his weekly Super Rugby Blog the “Post Match Scuffle” or “PMS” with us.
In his blog Couch Critic channels his usual weekend swearing, ranting, cheering, whinging and bickering to the written word. Brutally honest opinions of how the Super Rugby action went down from his perspective – no punches pulled, it’s PMS time…
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