CAPE TOWN – While the defensive lapses some of the South African Super Rugby teams have shown this season has been bad, it’s not the only area that needs to improve.
There were a few costly defensive errors the Sharks would have lamented following their outing against the Rebels on Saturday – from a number of players marking the same man to simple poor alignment.
Line-speed is a wonderful thing, it can be an extremely effective way to put pressure on the opposition and prevent them from scoring points, and it can also be used as a weapon to get the defending team some points if they manage to force the opposition into making mistakes. But in the Bulls’ humiliation against the Chiefs on Saturday, we were given a reminder of just why it’s so important to get the tactic right as the Chiefs were the ones who managed to make the Bulls’ own play work against them.
At the Cake Tin on Saturday, there were some very distasteful efforts – or lack thereof – by the Stormers on defence. The way Wes Goosen scored his first try after going down the touchline was embarrassing.
It’s not the first time the Stormers have been exposed in the wider channels this season, but it’s scary to think of the unpleasant time they will have out wide against the Blues – or Rieko Ioane – if they don’t drastically guard the space inside the touchline better.
So yes, there can certainly be a bigger effort on defence. But the very same should be said about attack.
The way the Chiefs came out against the Bulls was seriously impressive. Not only the fact that they put 50 on the Bulls, but also how they did it.
If you had been waiting for the Kiwis to fade in the second half thanks to altitude, you would have been disappointed. They didn’t stop.
They kept going.
They scored some stunning tries and there was no let-down when it came to the way they handled theand what they managed to do with it.
The Stormers-Hurricanes game, for example, was a big contrast to what the Chiefs did at the weekend.
The approach the Stormers went for – while they succeeded in keeping the margin a decent one – said a lot. And while they did throw away a few chances, that wasn’t the only thing that stood out.
They kept it to a nine-man game. And it was just one example of the difference that still exists.
On the SA front in general, the Sharks have mixed the good with the bad. They’ve done some good stuff on attack, and so have the Bulls and Stormers at times. But we are going to have to see more of that if the SA teams are to have a chance.
It’s not just about limiting the damage. You can’t just play it “safe”.
Yes, the defence of virtually all SA Super Rugby teams needs to improve. But in hunting that formula, they shouldn’t neglect attack.
They shouldn’t forget what can happen if you let the ball do the work.
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