Another roadblock halts in-form Trokkie
In the Stormers’ 24-14 loss to the Sharks at Kings Park on Saturday afternoon, Augustus produced a Man of the Match performance in a game the visitors desperately wanted to win given what went down against the Blues at Newlands a couple of weeks ago.
That didn’t happen, the Stormers didn’t manage to put on a match-winning display so fine that it would have succeeded in erasing their pre-bye blues.
What was put on show, though, was a ‘Trokkie’ reel of contributions that should have been enough to take you back to his 2017 breakthrough season.
And what a year that was.
He burst onto the scene with the Junior Boks and was named World Rugby Under-20 Player of the Tournament after the Georgia spectacle, during which he scored in every single one of the South Africans’ matches and finished the competition as the top try-scorer.
Since then, however, we haven’t seen the big ball-carrying back-row forward live up to all the hype that encircled him post his domination in Tbilisi. Injuries, a succession of not-too-serious ones, have made sure that his havoc in the close quarters and in the wider channels have been a rare sight since 2017. Until this past weekend, that is.
In Durban, the burly No 8 had a hand in both the Stormers’ tries.
First, he gathered a kick around the halfway line and beat a handful of defenders before Herschel Jantjies finished with the try.
Then there were his contributions to replacement scrumhalf Paul de Wet’s visit to the Sharks’ in-goal. After taking a pass from Damian Willemse, the 22-year-old broke the line and topped it off with some good awareness as he looked for support and found it in De Wet.
There was also his work on defence, his grind at the breakdown (he also won an important turnover for the Stormers in their own half not too long before that try) and his gainline-marauding ways.
All of that contributed to a devastating show by the young loose forward.
The bittersweet part? No Super Rugby for the foreseeable future, and the halt in momentum for Augustus that can be expected to come with the break.
Sure, the decision to call time-out given the coronavirus outbreak is understandable, some things are bigger than rugby, after all. Everybody will feel it, but focusing on this past weekend’s game, it’s just a pity that Augustus seems to be hitting his straps now, when there is no guarantee when Super Rugby will resume.
The promising part? Not that there should ever have been any doubt, but at the weekend he showed that he’s the real deal. He’s no junior tournament special. He gave us a reminder of his abilities and again showed that those abilities aren’t confined to the U-20 level of business.
So, if you want something to look forward to once business resumes, look forward to more of Juarno Augustus.