JOHANNESBURG - Independent Media rugby writer Jacques van der Westhuyzen has looked at the biggest talking points from the sixth round of the Super Rugby this past weekend.
Jaguares have Lions’ number
The men from Buenos Aires have been poor this year; worse than in 2016 and 2017. They have struggled at home and away and even lost to the lowly Reds last weekend - at home. Yet they love playing one of the more formidable sides in the competition in the Lions, beating them in the Argentina capital 2016 and 2017 - and now again in 2018. Perhaps it is the fact the two teams play similar games and love it when things get loose, but whatever the reason, the Jaguares, in Buenos Aires, have got a mental hold on the Lions.
Lions have to get defence right
The Lions have scored a heap of tries this season (34), not unfamiliar to what they’ve done in the last few seasons, but their defence has been nothing short of woeful. On Saturday in Buenos Aires against the Jaguares they conceded six tries - to the five they scored - to take their total number of five-pointers conceded in six games to 26; that’s simply not good enough for a team that is supposedly one of the best in the competition.
What is up with the Sharks?
The men from Durban were written up by several observers as the South African team best-positioned to launch a challenge on the title in 2018, but they have again under-performed, as they have so often done in recent times. They have great players and good depth, yet they’re unable to produce the goods on the field, losing three and drawing one of their five matches so far. But it is not only the final results that have been disappointing, but the actual performances, too. Something just doesn’t seem to be gelling.
And all hail the Rebels
Australians in Perth weren’t very happy when the Western Force were cut from the competition, but the Rebels, from Melbourne, have shown they are the team on the up, justifying the decision to keep them involved in Super Rugby. They currently lead the way on the overall standings, having amassed 20 log points from four wins in five outings; the latest a 46-14 hiding of the Sharks. They have yet to travel but they are playing some quality rugby under the guidance of former South African Dave Wessels, so well done to them.
The Bulls need to get it right
John Mitchell has been praised for turning the Bulls into a more attacking - and watchable - team since the start of the competition, and several players have stood out in their performances so far, but the results have not matched the optimism off the field. Sure, they have lost on the road to the Reds, Crusaders and Chiefs, and to the Lions at home, with only the one win against the Hurricanes in their opening match, but they now need to show they have grown and make Loftus a fortress again.