Still no caviar in Durbs; the Mafi SUV; Happy Feet in Highlander country and Bulls and Lions blow it – and that’s no polony from this week’s Super Rugby!
Friday’s action transpired as expected. The Stormers showed a glimmer of promise here and there but in the end the Highlanders just had way too much fire power for their rather inexperienced opponents. Young “Happy Feet”Willemse remains a bright light for the Capetonians – clearly his running game is already on point and the pivot only needs to develop his basics as well as focussing on creating for those outside him rather than feeling the need to do it all himself (of course in the current Stormers squad one can understand a player deciding to ignore a few of those around you and trying things by yourself).
The Rebels finally blew some excitement into an Aussie derby by properly disposing of the dull Brumbies. The Melbourne based side has already shown that among the very poor Australian teams they appear to be rather less terrible than the other lot. A vehicle that stops at nothing and covers huge amounts of ground regardless of the terrain it faces, thus a 4x4, is a South African’s favourite possession. It goes without saying then that Saffacoach Dave Wessels must be in seventh heaven having the monstrousTongan born Almanaki Mafi to his disposal amongst the rest of the group of koalas that he seems to bemoulding into a half decent unit.
The Hurricanes showed that they are very much one of the big contenders for overall glory in 2018 when they put their early tournament stutters behind them to pick up an impressive victory over the Crusaders. The opening half had one thinking you were watching a South African side under the pump from an impressive New Zealand outfit as the defending champs were uncharacteristically rushing their passes, dropping balls and making errors under the early pressure from the Canes. Seeing the Saders flustered is rare as rain in Cape Town.
At times against the Reds the Bulls looked like they completely ran out of ideas on the fifth or sixth phase and then you could almost physically see the Bulls players have a mental malfunction as they were unsure on how to proceed from here – default to slowing things down and setting up pods or keep pushing the off loads. In fairness the visitors only played rugby for about 20 minutes of the clash and it was only the inability of their hosts which meant that the Reds didn’t get away to a more comfortable victory. Mitch might be spending a lot of time on the skills of everyone in the squad but even if they eventually attain these abilities they will be as useful as tits on a nun if the big boys don’t boss the battle upfront first.
More expected than an Aussie sledge on a cricket field is that the Sharks disappoint when expected to put a side away. The home team started smartly enough and complaining about a team when they put 50 points on the board might sound like a beggar asking for caviar with his half loaf. Yet Robert du Preez will know that his side will have to improve exponentially or they will be in for a world of hurt in Australasia over the next month. Akker van der Merwe and Mapimpi impressed for the Natalians.
The Lions are all-out attack; all about playing positive, expansive, rugby at break-neck speed. Well speed kills, Swysie! One admirers how the Lions fully embrace their style of play BUT after being involved in two Super Rugby finals one would like to see the team smarten up a touch. Despite comfortably leading the game toward the back end of the match the home team was still forcing the game with unnecessary little quick lineout moves, loose carries and panicky tap passes which found ground more often than hand. We applaud these tactics when they come off but when you chuck away a 28-10 lead an hour into a clash some questions have to be asked.
WaisakeNaholo can be as devastating as a bull in a china-shop but at the same time exhibit the balance and footwork of a ballerina on a tight rope. The All Black winger left Rhule for dead in the tightest of spaces and then sped away from two other defenders to set up a scintillating try for his team. (Poor Raymond’s defence has caught more bad press than Enterprise polony of late).
After a less than impressive start to the tournament the Jaguares came out of the change rooms with a sniff of destruction in their nostrils.With the visiting Waratahs seemingly flaunting the red rag the raging bull South Americans ran the Aussies ragged with an exhibition of fast, expansive rugby that left everyone breathless as they streaked to a 26-0 lead within 20 minutes.
My number one WTF moment was the pathetic effort of the Bulls in the scrum. At one stage LizoGqoboka, Adriaan Strauss and Trevor Nyakane were the frontrow and the Reds pushed them back at the rate of nots (this after it had also happened to the starting pack of the Bulls). WTF?! This is a Springbok frontrow against an AUSSIE frontrow– ag no sies man Bulle!
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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