Another round of Super Rugby is done and dusted for another week, and as usual, there is plenty to talk about.
Here are five things we learned from Round 6.
What’s going on with the Sharks?
I’ve pledged to myself that I won’t buff the Rebels until they’ve played New Zeraland opponents, but they were very impressive against the Sharks in their 46-14 win.
So rather, let’s chat about the Sharks.
On paper last week, I mused that they have one of the most talented 1-23 rosters in Super Rugby. I stand by that statement.
In Tendai Mtawira, Akker van de Merwe and Thomas du Toit – they have one of the most experienced front rows in the competition. For what it’s worth, their scrum was about the only thing that stood up on Friday night.
In the backs, Lwazi Mvovo, Sibusiso Nkosi and Curwin Bosch are a young, but enigmatic back three that produce fairly consistently. In between, Lukhanyo Am and Marius Louw are jets. So, why do they find themselves with just one win through their first five games?
Watching the game live on Friday I felt that their defensive patterns were completely wrong. Tom English spoke pre-game of the Rebels’ enthusiasm to get on the outside of the first defensive channel, and literally from the very first minute, they did just that.
Am sat deeper in defence than a rushing Louw, and Billy Meakes and Jack Maddocks linked up in midfield to continually beat them on the outside. It was too easy, and a point of concern for the Sharks.
For what it’s worth – the Sharks aren’t dead in attack, but the old adage of “offence being the best form of defence” perhaps doesn’t ring true for Robert Du Preez and his men.
The Chiefs are a pretty clinical outfit
The Chiefs second half performance against the Bulls two rounds ago was impressive an80-minute. Their 80 minute performance against the Sunwolves was a clinic.
The Sunwolves travelling back from a mammoth South African effort against the Lions were always going to struggle on the quick turnaround, but the Chiefs put them to the sword.
Damien McKenzie contributed 26 points in a 61-10 drubbing of the Japanese outfit.
Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of their performance was the “80-minute” aspect of it. From 28-5 at half time, it could’ve been easy for Colin Cooper to empty his bench and cruise the remaining 40. However, a 33-5 second half output was impressive.
Solomon Alaimalo continued his good form, crossing twice, whilst halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi was arguably best on ground.
With a bumper next round match against the Highlanders in Waikato, it’ll be interesting to see how they perform after the travel home.
The Reds were plucky, but the Stormers were too good
Brad Thorn can be proud of his troops efforts. At a traditionally tough Newlands Stadium, his men went down 25-19, courtesy of a late Filipo Daugunu five-pointer.
For the Reds, a stern test away from home was passed, if not with flying colours. Two tries either side of the break kept them in touch, and a late surge nearly saw them pull a swift one – but that was the only time they looked like a real threat of taking the points.
Samu Kerevi, Jono Lance and Alex Mafi were all solid, while Filipo Daugunu’s length of the field effort in the 79th minute was one of the tries of the season.
They were always going to be up against it, however, as the Stormers roared to their second straight win at home.
Damian Willemse is probably the form 10 of the South African conference, with Elton Jantjies from the Lions struggling to find his rhythm.
He squares up the Stormers attack, and consistently provides good service for his centres in EW Viljoen and Damian de Allende.
Their wingers were outstanding on the day, too, Raymond Rhoule one of the standouts.
The Stormers are now second in the South African conference, and will be looking to stay in touch with the Lions in coming rounds.
The Jags can turn it up when the mood strikes
Gee, the Jaguares are hard to put away on their day.
They were well beaten last start by the Reds, however, one week later and hosting the Lions, arguably one of the best sides in the competition, the Jaguares fired on all cylinders to record an impressive 49-35 win in front of a boisterous Buenos Aires crowd.
In a high-scoring, entertaining affair, the Jags scored after just 45 seconds, courtesy of a delightful short-ball in the midfield from flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez; Baptist Delguy the beneficiary.
Despite trailing by 4 at one stage, they flew back in the second stanza to record a comfortable victory built on the back of some blistering attack, often from deep in their own half.
Their inconsistency is a worry, but on their day they can beat anyone in the competition.
The Tahs return to club land
The Waratahs used the Bye week to send more than 20 of their squad to club land, where they turned out for Shute Shield sides final trial hit-out before the beginning of season proper.
21 Tahs, including Andrew Kellaway, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Tolu Latu, Will Miller, Cam Clark and Taqele Naiyaravoro all played in the suburbs of Sydney as decent crowds flocked to catch some of the stars in action.
Simon Cron, a member of the Tahs coaching staff, no doubt had a part to play in this – an avid, an open supporter of club land given his background coaching Northern Suburbs to the Shute Shield final last season.
A nice look for rugby in NSW.