DURBAN - Stormers utility back Dillyn Leyds and Sharks hooker Akker van der Merwe received most of the plaudits after round 14 of Super Rugby.
Focus is everything
This year’s Super Rugby competition has emphasised the fact that when one team pitches up with their eye off the ball and the opposition is razor sharp, a blow-out can ensue. And the following week, the team that copped the hiding often bounces back with a performance that leaves spectators wondering “Where did that come from?”
We have seen it with the Sharks often enough, including the fortnight which saw them take 50 from the Rebels only to then smack the Blues at Eden Park. This weekend it was the Reds who bounced back from an embarrassing performance against the Sunwolves to almost beat the Hurricanes in Wellington on Friday.
Leyds the silver lining to the Stormers' cloud
Dillyn Leyds would have not known whether to laugh or cry after his team sunk to a despairing defeat to the Sunwolves on Saturday. His performance was brilliant and had Springbok written all over it. The first of his two tries will surely challenge for Try of the Season. It had everything in it - pace to break out of his own half, a dummy to throw defenders off course, flair to run inside and outside flyhalf Hayden Parker and exceptional agility to ground the ball at the corner flag, with his body in the air outside the touchline.
Shoddy Sharks must clean up their act
The Sharks continue to deliver performances that are both error-ridden and excellent. For every slick, patient attacking move that often includes neat offloading and strong support play, there is either a schoolboy handling error or a lapse in discipline. Coach Robert du Preez can be forgiven for his exasperation.
The Sharks did all their pre-season training conditioning with ball in hand and every week the coach preaches the merit of good discipline. And yet the errors mount, as do the cards and - especially the high tackles. The Sharks will not be contenders until they become more clinical.
Akker aiming for higher honours
The 'Angry Warthog' is hitting the form of his life now that he is a regular starter in the Sharks front row. For the second consecutive week, he has made a strong statement to Bok coach Rassie Erasmus, who has been forced to re-look at his hooker options after the injury to Malcolm Marx.
Akker van der Merwe was the man of the match at Loftus - even if many felt it should have gone to Warrick Gelant - and at the weekend he popped up all over the show, making himself a general nuisance to the Chiefs. He ripped ball out of the hands of Chiefs players, made line breaks like a centre and even threw a dummy that made the try for flyhalf Robert du Preez.
Jaguares the team to beat
The Lions may be log leaders and can’t be overhauled before the June break, but the form team in the SA conference right now are the Jaguares. The Argentinians backed up their four wins in Australasia with a big win over the Bulls in Buenos Aires. The Lions were not impressive in beating a Brumbies team that was at one stage down to 13 men.
The Lions will know that they will have to pull up their socks if they are to hold off the Jaguares on the log. The Jaguares play most of their remaining games at home, continuing this week against the Sharks.