Bosch on song against Waratahs
Curwin Bosch amassed 27 points, including a try, to help guide the Sharks to a deserved 37-14 over the struggling Waratahs in Durban. Patrick Lambie walked off after just five minutes with a back injury that he picked up in the pre-match warm up. Lambie’s injury resulted in an unlikely replacement in Curwin Bosch, the 19 year old who usually plays fullback for the Durban side. However he stepped up to the plate, and then some. He was brilliant on attack and his goal-kicking was sublime, showing once again that he is a player for the future.
Although Bosch showed no signs of rustiness at 10, he needs to concentrate on 15. With Willie Le Roux’s departure, the Sharks need to find an out and out fullback. Although they managed to get the experienced Clement Poitrenauad’s signature, he was brought on to play more of a mentorship role to the likes of Bosch. With Lambie out for up to 6 weeks, the Sharks will need the likes of Inny Radebe and Garth April to come to the party, and quickly.
Déjà vu for Lions
For the second time in two years, the Lions “B-side” approach backfired, as they suffered a 36-24 defeat to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires on Saturday. Johan Ackerman’s decision to leave behind his key players resulted in the make-shift side being dominated in all areas of the game.
In 2016, it cost them a home final, and probably the Super Rugby title. Whether the consequences will be that bad this year remains to be seen, but it’s a lesson learnt the hard way once again. Take nothing away from the Jaguares, as they thoroughly outplayed the Lions and finally came together to look like a side that is worthy of their place in this competition. It is still too early to tell if they can carry that form into their away fixtures, but they will prove tough customers at home.
New Zealand stars sidelined
In what was a great spectacle of rugby over the weekend with both New Zealand derbies tightly contested and the Crusaders clinching it in overtime against the Reds, it came at a price. The physicality in all three games meant there was a number of New Zealand internationals who picked up injuries.
The weekend took its toll on the likes of Lima Sopoaga, Waisake Noholo, Seta Tamivalu, Israel Dagg and Nehe Milner-Shudder, who all look to do some time on the sidelines. While Dagg’s prognosis is yet to be determined, the rest could all face up to six weeks without any game time with various leg injuries. It doesn’t make for easy reading for All Blacks supporters and will give the Kiwi coaching staff a serious amount of anxiety with the British and Irish Lions tour fast approaching. They join the list of casualties which include Brad Webber, Richie Mo’unga and Ben Smith to name a few.
Cheetahs lack depth
With an impressive victory over the Bulls in round two, the Cheetahs were without a number of key players for their match against the Sunwolves in Bloemfontein. The Sunwolves capitalised on this but fell short, going down 38-31.
Cheetahs coach Franco Smith shifted Rayno Benjamin from wing to centre and Zee Mkhabela from scrummy to wing. Smith’s attempt to play the game at a high tempo, proved costly as the Sunwolves’ first try came as a result of Mkhabela missing a straight forward tackle, one that a winger would usually make. Although they managed the victory, not managing a try-scoring bonus point against the Sunwolves at home is a point lost. The injury induced changes made by the Cheetahs proved they might struggle in this year’s competition without their big guns.
Brumbies snatch first win
Two late tries for the Brumbies, gave them a 25-17 win over the Australian table topping Western Force in Canberra. The Brumbies trailed 17-13 heading into the final ten minutes before a Ross Haylett Pety yellow swung the game in the hosts favour.
Pity’s sin-binning saw Kyle Godwin and Robbie Abel score and give the Canberra side their first win of the competition. The Brumbies’ win will give them the belief to go on and challenge for Australia’s top honours. The Brumbies are tied at the top with the Reds both on six points, with the Force a point behind them and the Tahs a further two back. It looks as though the Aussie conference will be contested till the very end, with the likes of a couple home derbies deciding the play-off spot.
By Tristan Renaud