CAPE TOWN - Independent Media rugby writer Wynona Louw has compiled a list of the five biggest takeaways from last weekend's Super Rugby action.
1. Damian Willemse is the real deal
People are always quick to say ‘don’t get too excited after only one game’. The young flyhalf followed up his top performance in Bloemfontein against the Cheetahs last week with another pleasing one against the Sunwolves, although that might be a bit bland.
The individual attacking skills in broken play he put on display were just too good to describe, and he again showed he has no issues making tackles, and this time he had an extra Super Rugby box to tick - goal-kicking.
He slotted four of his six conversions, and although some of his kicks to touch were a bit aimless, or not as good as they were last week, he gets another tick next to his name.
2. The rise and fall of the Kings
The Kings have obviously stepped up this season, and they’ve won six of their games, with eight defeats. It’s a huge improvement from last year, when they won just two of their fixtures and lost 13.
The victories they’ve secured this season are also a good indication of their progress - this year they’ve beaten South African teams for the first time, and those celebrations have included wins over the Sharks and, this past weekend, the Bulls.
Given their improvement, it would have been great to see what the Kings could have achieved next season.
3. Potent back three
Dillyn Leyds, Cheslin Kolbe, Seabelo Senatla. Those three men tormented the Sunwolves at the weekend, and it was great to see them getting rewarded with tries as well. They were devastating on the counter-attack and generally in open play. Leyds was absolutely sensational as he set up Willemse’s try with a superb step and offload, while Senatla’s moment came when the Bok wing broke the line out wide and booted the ball ahead for the Sevens star to score.
He also made a number of exciting runs throughout the match and, of course, selflessly gifted Kolbe a try for his second hat-trick try in two weeks. Kolbe produced a few impressive kick-aheads and he proved to be dangerous out wide, while probably the only thing more impressive than his trips to the try line and his kick-chases being his give-all tackles.
Senatla, on the other hand, saw the ball much more in Round 16 than in his previous outings, and he again showed that he won’t be stopped once he shifts into gear (which he does unbelievably quickly). His all-round grind was first-class yet again.
4. A ridiculous format
The mere fact the Brumbies are even in play-off contention is a shocker on its own. But to think that a team like the Blues, who have more points than the Aussie side has, missed out completely is just unfair.
Yeah, the Blues don’t come close to the other Kiwi sides, but that’s not the point. In fact, when you put it into perspective (that New Zealand’s poorest side has done better than Australia’s best) it sounds even worse.
And when the Brumbies went up against the Reds at the weekend in a match nobody should have had to sit through, the biggest positive was that both sides managed to salvage a tiny part of the error-ridden display at the Suncorp Stadium in the last 20 minutes. What a format.
5. Hey, Pieter-Steph what’s up?
Looking at Pieter-Steph du Toit’s performance at Newlands, he doesn’t look like a man trying to play his way back into the starting Springbok jersey. His positional play was poor at times and the way he missed some tackles can only be described as shocking.
He made eight tackles and missed seven seven! He wasn’t very appealing with ball in hand either, and more often than not he just took contact and either lost the ball or got it away with a poor pass. Yes, he won two turnovers, but he also conceded one. Of late, he definitely hasn’t been the Pieter-Steph we’ve come to know.