In the lead up the Super Rugby 2015 season many, many pundits made predictions for how the various teams would go – including us.
How are things looking in reality now that we’re four rounds in?
We thought we’d dedicate this week’s #TuesdayHIGH5 to one key lesson we’ve learned about each SA team so far this year.
In no particular order:
Top stat: #1 in loose balls collected
No one really expected the Lions to do well this season and so far they haven’t, winning only one of their four matches. They were decent against the Stormers and the Blues, but poor against the Sharks and the Hurricanes. The team lacks depth and they will struggle to sustain the kind of game plan they employ for another month – let alone another three.
That said, is the Blues result the start of a winning turnaround? It might be when you consider that the Lions lost all four games on tour last year.
Lesson: Lions can win on tour
Top stat: #1 in conversions
The Bulls started their season off badly, getting a proper hammering at the hands of the Stormers before going down again to the Hurricanes. They then started winning, beating the Sharks (thanks to the help of dodgy officiating) and then the Cheetahs.
What’s more, their victories, particularly against the Cheetahs , have been convincing and a Bulls team that builds up a head of steam is difficult to stop.
Lesson: Bulls head into their bye on a winning streak
Top stat:#2 in tries scored
The Cheetahs started their season off well, giving the Sharks an unexpected hiding at home before squeaking past the Blues. Then they played the Bulls and the wheels came off.
One of the commentators summarised the Cheetahs game plan accurately on Saturday when they remarked that there is an over reliance on the creative genius of Willie Le Roux. What if he gets injured though? What then? I predict that the Bulls game marks the start of a losing streak for the men from Bloem.
Lesson: A Cheetahs team that’s low on confidence is a losing team.
Top stat: #1 in lineout steals
While the Sharks do not currently occupy a great log position, this writer is of the opinion that the Sharks are doing fine and there is no need to panic just yet. The loss to the Cheetahs was probably a case of classic opposition under estimation, while the game against the Bulls can probably be attributed to the ref. The loss to the Stormers however was a bit more concerning.
Where are the Sharks mentally, though? Is there a degree of ‘we just need to show up and this game is ours’? That’s the sense I get from them.
Lesson: Sharks are winning everywhere except on the scoreboard.
Currently top ranked in: Penalty goals
While the Cape side is currently undefeated, that statistic can be a bit misleading – they’ve had their issues. They were great against the Bulls, average against the Blues, below average against the Lions and then good against the Sharks.
That being said, the side wasn’t really seen as a threat to the SA conference prior to the competition and, with changes to their game plan and some smart recruiting where it matters, they’re looking a lot more well-rounded than last year.
Lesson: Stormers look a more balanced side
What are your thoughts guys? Post how you see the SA conference ending from 1 – 5 in the comments or tweet us your thoughts @leftbacks on Twitter.