Had the Jaguares been allotted to the Aussie conference instead of the South African one they would surely have walked their way into the knockout games and even enjoyed home-ground advantage.
As it is the men from South America are finally playing the kind of rugby that a lot of us expected of them as a semi-international side and are well and truly throwing the cat (a huge, wild cat) amongst the pigeons in the SA conference.
The Chiefs have not yet convinced me and they were poor on the day. But the Argentines conquered what was put in front of them and unbelievably ended their four-week tour of Australasia with the four “W”’s – something that no SA side has ever been able to muster. Bravo senoras!
The Rebels returned to their homeland but were greeted by more of the same. Dave Wessel’s side have struggled to put two halves of rugby together and in Melbourne the Crusaders put them to the sword in the second stint, humiliating the home side by scoring six tries to zero in the second half.
Most were expecting the Lions to pick up a bit of a hiding in Wellington. Like a cheeky child the Lions were always in trouble in this one and just about managed to stay out of reach of the mom who was trying to give him a spanking for having his hand in the cookie jar. First little Johnny (aka Mostert’s men) were able to sneak back into the kitchen when they burgled a try just before the half time break. Then, trailing 28-7 and facing what is usually “kill” time for the Kiwis, the Saffaswere able to latch onto a few opportunities in the last 25 minutes to largely avoid dad’s belt. Whilst the beating may have been avoided some serious homework remains for last year’s finalists who have now lost five games this season.
This critic labelled it as crap versus crap in the build-up and as expected it was mostly scrap dished up at Brookevale Oval between the Waratahs and the Blues. The field had an advertisement painted on the ground promoting the support of local club rugby and whilst watching this game I felt like I was indeed busy “supporting” a club game – and it wasn’t even the first teams playing I felt! The Tahs had a golden opportunity to break the trans-Tasman hoodoo but unfortunately, they fluffed their lines yet again.
Some better rugby awaited us in South Africa. John Mitchell’s men were dealt a terminal blow as Trevor Nyakane was a late withdrawal to their team. Coming off a strong performance against the Highlanders the more make-shift front-row were immediately under the cosh with the upper hand established by Kitshoff and Louw proving no small contributor to the Stormers’ early momentum.
Somewhere in Camps Bay on Sunday you were likely to find a salt-and-pepper haired ex-Springbok outside centre sipping on a Flying Fish (or a pink cocktail), bare feet in the sand, grinning from ear to ear. In the run-up to the match at Newlands the whole country was talking of the messiahs of Bulls rugby who was tuning the Bulls into a mean machine whilst good old Flecky’s head needed to be on the chopping block since the Stormers were going backwards in a hurry under his stewardship. Alas it seems Mitch is not quite ready to swim in the deep-end let alone attempt walking on water. BUT steady on Flecky– the noose might seem to have come off but me thinks it was only loosened a bit, for now.
Against a New Zealand team best known for their smart use of the boot it came as a huge surprise that the Sharks took the visitors to the Tank on at their own game and came out trumps. The Highlanders never looked switched on for this one and they were beaten to the aerial ball as well as a few smart kick-throughs which saw the Sharks maintain the advantage throughout.
Nkosi was back to his best as he overshadowed some of the more illustrious outside backs opposing him. The pack of forwards also set a great platform upfront. Thomas du Toit does seem to be steadily improving at tighthead and though I am not quite ready to eat my words with regard to him not being able to adapt to no.3 I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t googling Jamie Olivier recipes of how best to digest the written word…
The Bulls were caught flat at Newlands and with their pack under pressure they were looking down the barrel trailing 12-0 against the Stormers. Half an hour and 17 points later the visitors had dragged themselves into the lead after a Jason Jenkins try. From the kick-off the Bulls let themselves down badly. The Stormers were able to ruck over the tackle ball and soon after Damian de Allende was making his way down the short side to set-up the match defining score. These are certainly what is referred to as coach-killer moments and Mitch will be sure to remind them that such soft moments are allowed when you still sleep with a teddy bear next to you but not when you pull a Super Rugby jersey over your head and jog onto the park.
It’s not often than an individual stands out well and truly above his piers but when it comes to one specific skill-set yet Israel Folau is literally head-and-shoulders above anyone else when it comes to his proficiency under the high ball. The Waratahs use him to retrieve the ball from the kick-off with almost unerring success (as he did against the Blues) and he is also often the target for the kick-pass. He has become notorious for not being a fan of men fondling other men’s balls but in all of rugby there is no one better at plucking a rugby ball out of the sky - and few sights more pleasing in terms of watching a man do his work with surgical precision - than the Wallaby fullback.
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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