Super Rugby

5 talking points: Super Rugby quarter-finals

Handre Pollard offloads against the Hurricanes (Getty Images)
Handre Pollard offloads against the Hurricanes (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Sport24's Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after the 2019 Super Rugby quarter-finals:

1. Jaguares show champion's mentality

The Jaguares showed in their 21-16 win over the Chiefs that they are the real deal.

I felt the men from Argentina - who finished second on the overall standings - were a tad unlucky to draw the dangerous Chiefs as quarter-finalists.

The Chiefs started the season slowly, even losing at home to the Sunwolves, but gradually grew stronger and it was no surprise when they led 16-8 at one stage in the second half in Buenos Aires.

Many would have expected the Jaguares to fold in that pressure cooker scenario, but their character shone through as they scored 13 unanswered points to close the game out.

The Argentines will be favourites to beat the Brumbies this weekend and reach a maiden Super Rugby final.

2. Bulls showed Boks the way

The Bulls may have lost their semi-final 35-28 to the Hurricanes in Wellington, but they showed heart with a gutsy display which included four tries.

Bulls fans may have feared the worst when they trailed 24-7 in the first half, but the character of the team shone through to push the Hurricanes right to the end.

I feel the Bulls also provided the Springboks with a blueprint on how to challenge the All Blacks: they dominated the scrums, matched the 'Canes physically and showed enough enterprise with ball in hand.

It may have been a defeat, but there were many lessons to be learnt from the Bulls' efforts in Wellington…

3. Pollard vital to Bok cause

Nick Mallett made a valid point when he said in the SuperSport studio that Handre Pollard is by far the best flyhalf in South Africa at present.

The Bulls skipper was highly impressive against the Hurricanes and Springbok fans will hope he doesn't get injured with the World Cup on the horizon.

Pollard, whose goal-kicking was flawless at the 'Cake Tin', comfortably tops the competition's points-scoring chart with 194 points.

The only player with an outside chance of catching him is Crusaders pivot Richie Mo'unga, who boasts 148 points with two potential matches left to play.

4. Lacklustre Sharks lacked impetus on attack

The inconsistent Sharks limped out of the competition with a 38-13 defeat to the Brumbies in Canberra.

What was concerning though was the fact that the Sharks had done most of the playing.

Statistics after the game revealed that the Durbanites enjoyed 77% territory and 63% possession, yet were outscored by five tries to one.

After trailing 24-6 at the break, the Sharks had dominated almost the entire second half - and were in with a shout at 24-13 down heading into the final 10 minutes - before two late Brumbies tries settled the matter.

As was the case at Newlands the previous week, the Sharks did not appear to know exactly what to do with ball in hand and lacked impetus on attack.

Unfortunately, it was another inconsistent season from a team that promised much.

5. End of the road for Sharks coach?

Sharks coach Robert du Preez has made an enemy of the media in recent times and one can expect more calls for his head in the coming weeks.

After the Sharks qualified for the quarter-finals with a narrow win over the Stormers at Newlands, Du Preez took a swipe at the media by calling them "cockroaches" - he used the same word when referring to media earlier in the season.

The negative press has already started, with the Durban-based Sunday Tribune running a story with a headline: 'Sharks finally free of the ROACH'...

The story claimed that Du Preez will be fired after failing to take the Sharks to the semi-finals.

Whether Du Preez gets the boot or not, he cannot claim that the Sharks' season was successful... they lost five times at home and were way too inconsistent to lay a claim for title contenders...

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