If you’re a bit of a rugby pragmatist, it’s nice to watch the Sharks at the moment.
Their game-plan to date isn’t all willy-nilly running rugby but a balanced approach where offensive defence is also a weapon.
The Durbanites did that really well against the Waratahs at the weekend in a 37-14 win.
Despite laying down a marker for the rest of their campaign, coach Robert du Preez was far from being overjoyed.
He believes the Sharks left various scoring chances untapped and if you take the Stormers against the Kings into consideration too, that was a bit of a problem this weekend.
Sharks won’t be allowed to be complacent in 2017
Robert du Preez isn’t known as a man that’s easy to please.
It was evident after a comfortable victory over the Waratahs at Kings Park.
“It’s always great to win at home,” he said.
“Having said that, I still think there were quite a few opportunities that were left unused. That’s something we’ll have to work on.”
That’s not the worst thing as Du Preez generally has a young spine to his side and might respond better to being kept on their toes.
It’s possible that they might be required to be even more mature over the next few weeks as captain Pat Lambie (back) and in-form flanker Philip van der Walt (concussion) are nursing injuries.
“At this stage, I am not too sure about the extent of Pat’s injury,” Du Preez said.
“It is obviously not great. He is a tough guy, but hopefully, it’s not too serious.”
The Stormers were in the same boat … but they can be forgiven
Robbie Fleck, the Stormers coach, also wondered whether his side could’ve inflated a 41-10 win over the Kings a bit more.
“There were moments when we were really good. I was just frustrated that we didn’t convert more opportunities,” he said.
“The game was certainly never in doubt.”
Yet unlike the Sharks, this XV wasn’t the Stormers’ first-choice combination and rather an occasion to test depth.
And given the performances of some, that was achieved.
“It shows the youth that we have coming through and that we are prepared to back these youngsters,” said Fleck.
Wayward Lions need to be more savvy with their tactics
By now, everyone knows the Lions’ way is by running the ball.
They’ve earned the right to do that given their success.
But Saturday night’s 24-36 loss to the Jaguares has raised the need for them to play this way in considered way.
Opponents are now preparing better against the Johannesburg-based franchise and they’ll need to find a method of varying their product.
“Our balance simply wasn’t good enough,” said coach Johan Ackermann.
“There were times when we could run with the ball but then lost possession in contact. At other times, especially early on, a few better kicks could’ve put the Jaguares under pressure in their half. Instead, we allowed them to attack in ours.
“Discipline was also a headache. The try-count was 4-4. In the end, it was their four penalties that proved to be the difference.”
Those are the margins involved in the competition.
Franco Smith takes a leaf out of the Lions’ book
When the Lions were runners-up last year, they conceded a surprisingly high number of tries.
Yet they avoided trouble because they scored so many as well.
That’s why Franco Smith, the Cheetahs coach, wasn’t too worried about conceding four tries in a nervy 38-31 win over the Sunwolves.
“If you play Super Rugby‚ other teams will score tries against you and that’s how it works‚” he said.
“If you compare it with the Northern Hemisphere‚ it’s about out-pressuring the opposition. Here in South Africa‚ if you want to win a Super Rugby or Rugby Championship match‚ you have to outscore the opposition.”
Instead, the Springbok assistant coach is just happy his team is closing out games.
The most important thing is that we’re closing out these close matches because I have a feeling most of our matches will be like this.”