Un-Australian Activities - Green and Gold Rugby
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Un-Australian Activities

Un-Australian Activities

The South African conference provided a fabulous start to the 2018 Super Rugby season. We opened with Stormers at home to the Jaguares in an entertaining tussle. The game of the round followed –  Lions at home to the Sharks is a game that rugby fans will want to watch in full.

A note on the refereeing – the new scrum interpretations may well take a few rounds for referees to be comfortable that packs have caught up.

STORMERS 28 JAGUARES 20

This game featured a yellow card each; a scrum penalty try to the Jaguares; a Stormers conversion kick legally charged down; and another four scintillating tries, three to Stormers and one more to the Jaguares.

The Stormers will look forward to the return of Etzebeth and du Toit who were rested. The starting locks did well enough but were unable to arrest a sporadic set piece. Occasionally excellent, frequently not so much.

Jaco Piper found it necessary to reset many scrums where either a gap was not maintained at the bind, or poor scrum feeds or poor strikes did not allow the game to proceed under the new rules.

Ledesma has the Jaguares playing free-flowing rugby with even the tight five passing. Unfortunately they were poor switching back to a forwards possession when the game called for it. It may be a fitness issue but it did lead to discipline issues which continues to be a Jaguares bugbear.

The Jaguares exit strategy presented as well honed. The forwards strongly commit to the first or second phase protecting the half who slows things down before kicking. With this signal, a strong kick chase followed sometimes leading to a successful challenge or turnover. It may be picked off by the Kiwis but it is a Jaguares strength at this early stage of the competition.

The Stormers also lacked discipline in stretches, especially when down to 14 men.

Concerns over poor defence in the Stormer centres was not evident with wide forwards helping out. The 19 year old fly half, Willemse, showed plenty of promise. He was helped out where needed by the back three – Senatla dropping in to first receiver when the 10 was caught and both of them showing a lovely wide pass. This is the Stormer’s “A game” – get it wide to the wingers (Rhule and Senatla) and fullback (Leyds). They were slippery and made plenty of distance. The support was there but if stronger the Stormers could have taken plenty more points.

The Jaguares, as usual, were promising but the Stormers deserved their first season win.

 

Lions 26 Sharks 19

Possibly one of the best Round 1 games we have seen in a few years, both teams showing why they are favoured in the South African conference in 2018. If you missed this game, don’t just rely on the highlights – find a replay and watch the full game if you can.

Both teams featured plenty of tactical kicking both early in the game and throughout the match. This was not, however, the dreaded African 10 man rugby that we are familiar with on the Hiveldt. Territory was balanced with determined raids behind the kicking. The Sharks, as promised by Head Coach du Perez, showed determined attack rugby on first phase possibly matching the flamboyant Lions.

The Sharks dominated the line outs with plenty of wins against the throw.

The scrum, the scrum, my god the scrum. Lions dominated. They used a forceful 8 man shove when the opposition had to have the hooker striking. Something that the Sharks were unable to return on their tight head feeds. Wright (Shark 9) felt forced to nonchalantly skew the feed – referee Glen Jackson was having none of it. A small reprieve for the Sharks when the Beast arrived after half time immediately earning a rare scrum penalty for the Sharks. Once the bench front rows were emptied it was back to Lions domination.

The Lions under new Head Coach Swys de Bruin certainly seem to have picked up from where Ackermann left them. Incredibly they may prove to be a better team in 2018. Entertaining rugby with frequent early phase attack, clever kicking, and solid forwards. It is possible that the Lions are improving on last year. Just look to the line out Swys!

The Sharks are a massive step up from last year. Very nearly holding the Lions in spite of the scrum and having legs with little in the tank for the last 20 minutes at height.

Both teams should be taken seriously in 2018.

  • Brent Craig

    Awesome write-up, dru. I’ll be looking out for a replay of Lions v Shorks for sure.

    • dru

      Hey Brent – nice to chat when I’m not on a Kiwi rant. Both games are worth watching, but the Lions/Sharks is a pearler.

      Happy to see my game predictions were right.

      BUT would have liked to have been wrong about the Sharks. But then the Sharks let no-one down. Great Round 1!

  • Fatflanker

    Great write-up. Hard to believe the Boks have been struggling with that kind of talent on display.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Yeah it’ll be see if this can be transferred to the national team later

      • dru

        Hahaha!. Organisationally the Boks are in a world of pain. They have ALWAYS had extraordinary depth in the grass roots.

        If Lions and Sharks stand on creative rugby, and the Stormers have this as intent. Well, we’ll find some forwards from the Bulls, and who knows the talent growing STILL in the Cheetahs and Lions.

        There is no reason outside of selection and coaching, for the Boks to feel threatened by sub top 5 teams.

        They are definitely not done yet.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I agree mate the last couple of years have been a struggle in the coaching and selection area. I know the quota system has been some of the problem but certainly compounded by poor decisions in those areas

  • Brumby Runner

    Think you will find Dru that Etzebeth is out injured for about half the season, not just rested.

    • dru

      Yes you are right.

      How did I go with my (writing) strategy? The idea was to leave the game pretty much alone, my guess was that people would watch the highlights vid. SO I focused on how they play and the stuff you don’t see in the highlights vid.

      We put a lot of effort into this stuff, and I see errors in pretty much my first para (damn!)

      In Un-Australian Activities I’d like to take the rugby fan who is focused on Aussie rugby, and fill in the keys things from outside our conference. Enough that you have the info for pub talk. (Well that’s my concept of Un-Australian activities anyway!)

      Getting this right is tricky.

      Very.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Good write up Dru, wow that Lions scrum was massive. It’s going to test quite a few teams this year I think. I thought the Sharks did well to stay in the game with such a smashing and if they manage to shore up the scrum they’ll go so much better.

    Let’s hope the rugby this weekend keeps up to the same level.

    • dru

      Kiwis will match it, though they are always slow winding up in a season. Here in Aus, we just have to see. If we can match the Saffers, who had bigger issues than we did in the off season, then we are doing OK.

      Looking forward to the weekend.

Rugby

Too small for the pack too slow for the backs - the exception that makes the rule that rugby is a game for all sizes. Qld bred rugby fan with an eye on South Africa.

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