CAPE TOWN - Independent Media rugby writer Wynona Louw has selected five flashpoints from the past weekend's Super Rugby action.
1. The Kiwis can be “beaten by scoring tries”
If there was ever any doubt regarding that, then I hope the Stormers’ smashing 34-26 victory over the Chiefs will be a shining lesson. In the build-up to the Stormers’ clash against the Kiwis, coach Robbie Fleck said that they wanted to “win the game by scoring tries”, and they did just that as they scored four tries to the Chiefs’ three in front of a pumping Newlands crowd.
The biggest positive was how the Stormers went about the game - they stuck to their 15-man game and I don’t think I need to go into detail with all the moments of brilliance the game was overloaded with (Dillyn Leyds’ out-of-this-world offload was of course the most memorable one). That win was a big moment, not only for the Stormers, but for the whole of South African rugby. Hopefully the Stormers sent out a resounding message to the rest of country. And while it’s very true that you can’t easily beat the New Zealanders with penalties, it’s also very possible to beat the Kiwis at their own game.
2. Beauden Barrett is unstoppable
It’s actually sickening how good this guy is. In the Hurricanes’ 38-28 win over the Waratahs in Wellington, the flyhalf had a hand in five of the Canes six tries and scored one himself to down the Tahs. In the build-up to the first five-pointer, Barrett ran a beautiful line and cut through defenders before sending a perfectly-timed pass that dissected the Waratahs' defence to No 8 Reed Prinsep, who went to ground before Ngani Laumape rounded off to score.
Barrett ran in his side’s second try himself, before delivering a superb skip pass to younger brother Jordie to add another. Not even two yellow cards could break his flow, and as soon as he came back on after the first one he produced another spectacular wide pass to put South African-born wing Wes Goosen away on the outside. For the last Hurricanes try, he made an amazing break in midfield and covered huge ground, before sending the ball to Laumape on the far outside to score. Nothing more can be said about Beauden Barrett, his actions speak loudly enough.
3. Captain Siya!
Siya Kolisi has become a serious contender for the Springbok captaincy. I mean, look at his performances for the Stormers so far. He’s been massive in terms of his on-field contributions with non-stop tackling, great work at the breakdowns, and carries and passes that make him a standout forward. And good things can also be said about his leadership. Yes, we can’t always tell what he says or does on the field or in the change-room at half time, but it can’t be argued that he should definitely get some credit for steering the Stormers to where they are now.
The season’s far from over, but it’s been a great one by the Cape side so far. Kolisi is certainly young in terms of international experience, but he has all the traits that make him a fit for the Bok captaincy. He’s in unquestionable form, he leads from the front (to use a cliche), and it seems like he’s doing something right in how he leads his side, to say the least. Those few points alone account for far more checks than what the last Bok skipper could tick off his what-you-need-to-lead-the-Boks list. Just saying...
4. And now, Bulls?
To say the Bulls are in all kinds of trouble is an understatement. The fact that they lost to the Sunwolves after yet another sorry performance was next-level bad. Yes, they were without a number of their stalwarts heading into the match, but that was a match that a team like the Bulls shouldn’t have lost. They just look like a deeply confused team on attack and the way Adriaan Strauss missed that tackle in the first Sunwolves try is symptomatic of their problems on defence.
5. Learn from the Kings
It’s not often that one can say something like that about the Kings, but I do think they deserve it. They suffered a 46-41 loss to the Force in Perth, but the kind of rugby South Africa’s least-favourite rugby child put on show deserved heavy praise. In a hugely entertaining game, the Kings back three and flyhalf Lionel Cronje let loose as they cut through the Force’s defence, while Cronje also did well to create try-scoring opportunities for his outside backs. It was all about the thrill in Perth, and although the Aussies mixed up their entertaining play with less-exciting stages in between, it was still a good game of exciting rugby to watch and the Kings surely deserve a thumbs up for their losing bonus-point efforts.