Writing for SA Rugby Magazine, former Springbok hooker James Dalton looks ahead to Super Rugby round 5.
I’ve never been a Sharks supporter, but they’re the one side this Super Rugby that I’m really starting to like. The more I watch them, the more I simply enjoy the way they approach the game. They’re creating opportunities from nothing, in a very non-South African style, turning defence into attack (perhaps more in line with South African style), but most importantly they’re scoring tries. And it’s this ability to score tries, especially and impressively on the road, that makes me think they’ll put the Reds away by over 12 points this weekend and return home with 3/4, which bodes well for the rest of their tournament. While the Reds have shown to be tenacious and competitive so far this season, I just like the Sharks and their recent run of form too much to not be backing them for their last game on tour.
Conversely to the Sharks, the Stormers don’t seem to have this ability to score tries and have struck me as a bit one dimensional, playing of Willemse’s flat pass and choking teams out defensively and with their pack. One dimensional maybe, and hopefully it doesn’t stay this way for the whole season, but it is an approach that is working for them at 4/4 and top of the table. My other area of concern is that they are dropping balls, not just in matches but apparently in practices too. When I was at the Lions we’d go for a week without dropping a ball In training – it’s just not something you do. If the Stormers are to continue playing a game based on basic strengths, you don’t get more basic than catching a ball, and they need to fix this issue. While the Stormers may be lacking in the try scoring department, it’s not like the Blues are particularly threatening, and for all the Stormers’ other strengths, the Blues are weak. They have a weak pack and a weaker defence, and it took the Bulls being even poorer than them for them to actually win last weekend. I don’t think the Stormers will blow them away, but they should win comfortably by between 7-10.
Ah and the Bulls. If they lose this weekend’s which they probably will, I’ll be throwing in the towel on their behalf. I think it will be a hard fought win for a Jaguares side that came close but was strangled out against the Stormers, but it will be a win nonetheless. Unfortunately for the Bulls, losing this one does not say much for their hopes on tour, and I don’t see a resurgence for them.
The Lions have had a poor start to their season, and despite promising moments against the Stormers, couldn’t grasp that rugby is an 80 minute game. They keep falling short and will probably continue to fall short now on tour, beginning with a game against a nine-wallaby Waratahs side. The Lions are an inexperienced side that may well grow into a decent team, but I don’t see them replicating their 29-0 effort of last year against the Tahs.