Mud-sling­ing tainted Super Rugby start

The Citizen (KZN) - - Sport - Ru­dolph Ja­cobs

Last week’s open­ing round of Super Rugby matches evoked mixed emo­tions for var­i­ous rea­sons. The three teams who im­me­di­ately stood out were three-time de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons the Cru­saders, the Stormers and the Chiefs, and maybe to a lesser ex­tent the Jaguares.

In the early stages of the sea­son, there al­ready seems to be no stop­ping the in­cred­i­ble Cru­saders who de­spite los­ing a host of All Black stars looked very or­gan­ised in their first game of the new com­pe­ti­tion against the Waratahs.

The Chiefs also looked im­pres­sive, de­spite trail­ing the Blues 19-5 at the break. They were ruth­less in the sec­ond half, mark­ing a dream start for new coach War­ren Gat­land.

Among the SA teams, the Stormers were the most im­pres­sive in their 27-0 de­mo­li­tion of the Hur­ri­canes, and the zero be­hind their name on the score­board would not have gone down well with the proud Kiwi fran­chise.

The mud-sling­ing af­ter­wards, how­ever, was some­thing the game could have done with­out.

Stormers coach John Dob­son was un­happy about the late charge on his cap­tain, Siya Kolisi, with the Bok skip­per ex­pected to be side­lined for al­most two months by a knee in­jury.

Was Kolisi tar­geted? That’s a ques­tion for which we will prob­a­bly never have an an­swer.

Flank Pi­eter-Steph du Toit ap­par­ently got some fin­gers in his eye, and fly­half Damian Willemse strug­gled to get up af­ter a dan­ger­ous charge in the air.

The Canes hit back by say­ing that the glass at New­lands must be thick, hint­ing that peo­ple in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

The other three SA teams had a stut­ter­ing start, with the Sharks edg­ing the Bulls in Dur­ban.

Both teams’ true value will be­come clearer to­day, how­ever, when the Sharks play away to the High­landers and the Bulls get a chance at New­lands to prove whether the Stormers are re­ally that good or if the Hur­ri­canes were just poor.

It is none­the­less too early to start rav­ing about the Stormers or the Sharks af­ter just one match.

It’s also too early to write off the Bulls, and es­pe­cially the Lions.

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