Local South African rugby went up a gear this weekend, with enjoyable scorelines country-wide, while Super Rugby Aotearoa remains a joy to behold. Oliver Keohane picks three highlights from this weekend in rugby.
Seabelo Senatla starred for the Stormers in his first start of the preparation series. Senetla calmly collected a kick early on down the left wing and popped the ball inside for the Stormers’ first try, finished off another team effort for himself minutes later and just before the 20 minute mark burst down the left, used his explosive power to cut through two defenders before feeding the ball off to Herschel Jantjies for a try underneath the poles. I’ve always loved Senatla’s style and he is a menace against defences that allow him too much space. South Africa’s outside back stock is strong at the moment.
KOLISI COMES BACK
Siya Kolisi had a solid showing in his first game for the Sharks, as they battered a young Bulls side 45-12, scoring seven tries – of which one was finished calmly by Kolisi out wide. The Springbok captain has battled with injury since the heroics of the 2019 World Cup, and to just see him get through some good graft for 50 minutes, and be playing with a smile on his face inspires confidence in his come back and the possibilities that lie ahead for him at the Sharks and Springboks.
Damian McKenzie is perhaps the Chiefs’ most valuable asset, and stylistically similar to Cheslin Kolbe, McKenzie’s swerve, step and size-proportional power is a spectacle for rugby fans and headache for defences. The Chiefs struggled last year in the inaugural Aotearoa competiton and didn’t start 2021 convincingly. But after a first win last weekend, McKenzie was instrumental in allwoing for a follow up this weekend against the Blues. Trailing 12-8 with two minutes left, McKenzie hit the line from the flyhalf channel, looked for space between three defenders, appeared to have been stopped before spinning 180 degrees and frantically finishing the Chief’s counter attack just next to the poles and converting the kick to steer them to a 15-12 win.
(Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)