Super Rugby

5 talking points: Super Rugby Week 3

Rosko Specman keeps the Lions defence guessing... (Gallo Images)
Rosko Specman keeps the Lions defence guessing... (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Sport24's Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Week 3 of the 2019 Super Rugby competition:  

1. Pollard gets ahead in early race for Bok No 10 slot

The South African derbies in year's Super Rugby event will have extra bite in this Rugby World Cup year.

At Ellis Park on Saturday, Handre Pollard won his flyhalf battle with Elton Jantjies and showed why he is currently the Springbok incumbent.

Pollard produced a man-of-the-match display, contributing 20 points with the boot as he steered the Bulls to a comprehensive 30-12 win.

Pollard, who currently tops the competition's point-scoring chart with 52 points from three games, looked composed and his decision making was sound at crucial junctures.

It has to be said that Jantjies was playing behind a struggling pack, but his decision-making let him down at times, most notably kicking away possession the odd occasion his side had threatened in Bulls territory.

2. 'Specmagic' a welcome addition to Bulls' cause

Yes, the efforts of Schalk Brits and Duane Vermeulen have been widely reported, but I felt the performance of Bulls wing Rosko Specman also deserves a mention.

Specman was terrific against the Lions and kept the home side's defence busy all afternoon.

According to the tournament's official website, Specman tops the clean breaks category (8), is joint-fourth on the list for most metres carried (189m) and joint-second for defenders beaten (13).

He has clearly made a seamless transition from the sevens code and could prove a Bok bolter later in the year.

3. Du Toit, Etzebeth vital to Stormers' cause

The impact of Springbok duo Pieter-Steph du Toit and Eben Etzebeth was evident in the Stormers' upset 16-11 win over the Sharks in Durban.

Du Toit, who was the official man-of-the-match, was his ever-impressive self in the No 7 jersey, showcasing his value with ball in hand and on defence.

Du Toit has made 30 carriers thus far this season to sit joint-fifth on the official list and his 35 tackles puts him joint seventh in this category.

The best-player award could just as well have gone Etzebeth's way.

The burly lock was instrumental when he made his return from injury against the Lions the previous week and kept his foot on the accelerator in Durban.

The Stormers lineout is vastly improved with Etzebeth calling the shots and he is already joint-second on the list for most lineouts won with 13.

4. Jersey confusion avoided

There was more controversy over the Super Hero jerseys this past weekend as both the Lions and Stormers opted not to wear their Marvel-inspired kit.

Both teams announced this shortly before their respective kick-offs out of fears the jerseys would clash.

During the previous week's Stormers v Lions match at Newlands there was a jersey clash as the hosts were forced to change their Thor-inspired strip at half-time.

Kudos to the Lions and Stormers for taking the initiative to avoid more confusion but the time has come for organisers to make an official statement on how the issue will be handled for the remainder of the season.

5. Shock of the season

The Sunwolves shocked the rugby fraternity when they beat the Chiefs 30-15 in Hamilton on Saturday.

It was the Japanese team's first-ever victory achieved away from home since their debut in Super Rugby in 2016.

Since their introduction in the competition, the Sunwolves had previously not won a match outside of Asia in 23 attempts.

Former Bulls and Stormers wing Gerhard van den Heever scored a try in the Sunwolves' victory and his performances have caught the eye thus far in 2019.

Van den Heever tops the metres carried category (326m), lies joint-second on the try-scorer's list (3 tries), is third with 34 ball carries, joint-second with seven clean breaks and joint-ninth in the defenders beaten category (10).

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