Super Rugby: South African Conference Analysis
Opening matches have come and gone, two weeks into the grueling competition and we already have a few upsets as well as disappointments. The South African conference has yet to live up to expectations with matches being low scoring, full of errors and ill-disciplined.
The Cheetahs have been the least impressive side in the South African Conference with under-performance and mediocrity the order of the day. The opening match was lost to the Lions due to a valiant effort on defense and even though the match was there for the taking, the Cheetahs never seemed to have the will power and big match temperament to close the game off.
A thrashing of note was then taken at the hands of the Bulls and the invisible cloak the Cheetahs have been wearing has been ripped off to expose all the flaws and shortcomings of an undercooked and under coached team. A person could only wonder how these results manage to keep coaching as well as management staff in place.
The Sharks have been the disappointment of the South African conference as high expectations were placed on them to perform with new talent joining the team as well as carrying the momentum of reaching a Currie Cup final. The Sharks physicality and immense defense has been countered by a lack of finishing ability, high error count and inexcusable discipline.
With Tim Whitehead joining the team and Meyer Bosman hitting a slight vein of form one would expect the rest to fall in place with Pat Lambie on the inside and finishers of note on the outside. Instead the forwards choose to give away clear-as-daylight penalties and waste try scoring opportunities. Keegan Daniel and Bismarck Du Plessis (Captain and vice-captain respectively) have been the main culprits in this department and one can only wonder when a player is actually worth all the points against the team.
The Bulls have been spectacular this season showing their adaptability and promising talent. The opening match against the Sharks was what one expected from the Bulls, an aerial assault with Bjorn Basson chasing and the forwards taking the ball up phase by phase. But there is more to this than just a typical Blue Bulls game plan. The Sharks are known year in and year out for their fantastic defense and counter-attacking ability, how better to take this out of the equation other than by using the above-mentioned game plan.
One might think this is a way to explain a boring and pragmatic approach but only a week later and the Bulls showed their attacking hand by running the Cheetahs ragged. This was also a precise game plan with the Cheetahs not bragging the best defense in Super Rugby and the Bulls utilizing team analysis. The Bulls have to be praised thus far for the strategic planning with a young side under a new captain.Continued on the next page