Super Rugby

5 talking points: Super Rugby Week 5

Sharks v Crusaders (Gallo Images)
Sharks v Crusaders (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Round 5 of the 2016 Super Rugby competition:

1. Super Rugby’s also-rans

This past weekend’s action again saw losses for the Southern Kings and Sunwolves but that is likely to change this weekend when the two teams square off in Port Elizabeth. 

Both teams are still hunting their first victory this year and while both have shown improvements, victories will be hard to come by in 2016.

Therefore, Saturday’s clash will be of utmost importance for both sides who will feel they have a golden opportunity of claiming their first win.

The Sunwolves may have lost by only three points to the Bulls, but the scoreline flattered them in all honesty. They were pummelled in the scrums and lost several of their own lineouts and therefore had no platform to build phases from.

However, they showed against the Bulls how dangerous they can be with ball in hand and the Kings need to be wary of this. 

The Kings would need to start well in this game and try keep things as slow as possible if they are to emerge victorious.

The Kings were better against the Hurricanes than their 42-20 reverse indicates and had it not been for a slow start, they may have staged and unlikely upset. They will fancy their chances at home against the Japanese team. 

2. Stats paint an ugly picture for the Sharks

I might sound negative from a South African perspective, but it would have been a travesty of justice for rugby had the Sharks beaten the Crusaders in Durban at the weekend. 

According to the statistics, the New Zealand team dominated all facets of play and it was only steely defence and great opportunism from the Sharks that kept them in the game.

Here’s some significant statistics I picked up after doing live updates on the game: (via - SANZAAR's official website)

Metres made: Sharks 205-554 Crusaders

Carries: Sharks 49-107 Crusaders 

Defenders beaten: Sharks 6-14 Crusaders

Clean breaks: Sharks 3-15 Crusaders 

Passes: Sharks 52-215 Crusaders

Tackles made: Sharks 107-53 Crusaders 

Offloads: Sharks 2-21 Crusaders

Tackles missed: Sharks 14-6 Crusaders

Penalties conceded: Sharks 10-9 Crusaders 

Possession: Sharks 44%-56% Crusaders

Territory: Sharks 33%-67% Crusaders

The Sharks will have to start playing a bit more rugby and not just rely on their defence. Thus far this season their play has been very characteristic of the Stormers teams in the Allister Coetzee era...

3. Bulls need to be more clinical

The Bulls completely dominated their encounter against the Sunwolves, yet were only able to win by three points. 

They annihilated their opponents at scrum time, had a field day in the lineouts but were unable to make enough use of their opportunities.

They relied too much on their driving maul from lineouts to score tries and the attacking spark shown during last year’s Currie Cup is yet to feature in this year’s Super Rugby competition. 

Their defence also seems brittle and the ease with which the Sunwolves at times were able to carve them open should be a concern for coach Nollis Marais.

4. Stormers need to improve

The Stormers may have claimed a 13-8 win over the Jaguares in Buenos Aires at the weekend, but they will have to improve if they are to mount any significant title challenge in 2016.

On the back of a dominant scrum in the first half, the Cape side raced to a 13-3 lead after 20-odd minutes, but then went into sleep, or should I say defence, mode. 

In all fairness, the Jaguares were their own worst enemies. They had 62% of the possession and 63% of the territory but made 23 handling errors and missed three crucial kicks at goal, two of which were relatively simple. It cost them the game.

The Stormers still lack that spark on attack and more hard work lies ahead for new coaching incumbent Robbie Fleck.

5. Some good news! 

This column is mainly negative from a South African perspective, so thought I’d throw something positive in the mix.

There wasn’t an awful lot to write about the Cheetahs’ efforts against the Brumbies, so I figured I’d mention the South African team that had a bye this past weekend, the Lions. 

According to Sunday’s Rapport newspaper, Lions coach Johan Ackermann has extended his contract with the union.

According to the Afrikaans weekly, Ackermann put pen to paper last Thursday, with an official announcement to be made this coming Tuesday.

Ackermann's current contract expires after this year's Currie Cup, and he has been linked to clubs in Japan and Europe. 

This is good news for South African rugby, considering the attractive and successful brand Ackermann has instilled at the resurging Lions...