Super Rugby

Stodgy Stormers still good at gate-shutting

The Stormers' campaign was just beginning to develop a wobble - successive defeats, without a losing bonus point to show either time - when Super Rugby’s coronavirus-related cut-off took effect.

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John Dobson’s charges had slipped to seventh overall, after a heartening four-from-four start, when the suspension was announced.

But they do manage to retain a reputation, something that stretches back to the Allister Coetzee coaching tenure between 2010 and 2015, for noticeable defensive solidity even as their dynamism as an offensive force has come into regular question.

The Capetonians enter the enforced break with at least one honour (of sorts) intact: concession of the fewest tries in the competition.

After six matches, they have leaked only 10, so a miserly average of 1.66 per game.

Next best for bolting the gate are SA conference rivals the Jaguares, who have conceded 12 from as many played matches, even though they were awarded a draw for a seventh fixture, the called-off one at the weekend against the Highlanders.

That pair’s records are light years better than the basement Sunwolves, who have haemorrhaged 45 tries in six games - an average of 7.5 per outing.

Yet the current statistics also do little to suggest that the Stormers are evolving yet to the extent many of their supporters would like in attacking terms: nine teams eclipse them in “tries for” although their tally of 17 amounts to a respectable enough nearly three per match.

Last season, under Robbie Fleck’s coaching charge, the Newlands-based team shared with the Sunwolves (34 each from 16 ordinary-season matches) the statistical low for tries registered.

Surprise leaders for tries dotted in 2020, considering their relatively lowly berth of 10th, are the Reds, on 32 from seven matches (4.57 a game). It is helped greatly, admittedly, by the 10 registered alone in a 64-5 drubbing of the Sunwolves at Suncorp Stadium.

Hot on their heels - again just a little against expectation? - are much higher-riding Aussie compatriots the Brumbies, second overall on the table and with 31 to their name.

The Sharks top the overall log, with their encouraging six wins from seven fixtures so far, and are the top try-scorers in the conference (21), although that leaves them a humdrum eighth competition-wide in that department.

Dubious record for fewest tries falls to the Highlanders: 11 from five completed contests although they have technically played six due to the Jaguares “draw”.

In a reflection of their lowly statuses on the table, other South African teams, the Lions and Bulls, are second and third-worst in tries posted: 13 and 14 respectively.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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