Super Rugby 2017: 5 things we learned in Round 8

Lions are back to Number 1

There was an incredible amount of hype in this clash between North and South, with the Lions travelling to the feared Newlands to take on the undefeated Stormers. With the Lions winning their arm wrestle against the Sharks, they were looking to become the number one team in South Africa when they played the Cape Town based side on Saturday

The Lions humbled the Stormers in another classic SA derby, defeating the Stormers and earning them their first ever Super Rugby win at Newlands. The Lions were immense on defence and made the most of their opportunities. They were tactically superior with Ackerman outsmarting Fleck’s men in most areas of the game.

This game showed that South African rugby still has plenty to offer. Despite their all time low world ranking (7th), they are not to be written off as a country that has such a rich rugby history.

Bulls confide in fortress

Despite only just over 5000 fans attending the match on Saturday, the Bulls managed a pride-restoring victory in what was arguably one of their more impressive victories of 2017 thus far.

Not many people would have given the Bulls a chance, coming off one of their most embarrassing victories to the Sunwolves a fortnight ago. The Bulls reverted to their old tactic of brut strength and physicality which dominated the Argentines and keeps their unbeaten record at Loftus alive. A huge boost for the Pretoria side was Handre Pollard. He was instrumental in the win and is starting to find his feet after his lengthy time off of the field due to injury last year.

The Bulls will breathe a sigh of relief as this win will put them in good stead for their matches to come. They will look to make it two wins in two weeks against the depleted Cheetahs on Saturday before heading into a bye. The fortress will face its toughest task to date when they host the Crusaders and Highlanders in the weeks to follow which will decide whether Loftus is in fact the fortress it has always been referred to.

Cooper returns to Super Rugby

Quade announced his return in the most Quade way possible.

His ability to think outside the box with this neatly crafted cross field kick. Cooper’s vision showed us a glimpse of what the superstar is capable of. Although we are still waiting for Cooper to find some form during normal play, this kick has shown he still does like to think out the box. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for the Wallaby who has yet to find his feet at Super Rugby level, and it makes for some great viewing if you happened to miss it over the weekend.

Rebels get first win

The pre season hopefuls managed their first win of the campaign in nearly two months when they shocked the conference leading Brumbies in Melbourne on Saturday.

The Rebels have had a season to forget with the Brumbies being the Melbourne-based sides first scalp. They have been dominant all season at home with their most impressive performances coming against the Chiefs and Waratahs respectively. It was their final twenty minutes in both games that let them down. They lacked determination in both encounters and got thoroughly outplayed. However, they turned it around on Saturday and fought till the end with a last gasp effort seeing them clinch their first W of the campaign.

Hopefully this a streak they can continue in what has been a tough year for the Rebels, and Australian rugby as a whole.

Barrett brothers do it again

In what was a very anticipated New Zealand derby this weekend, the Hurricanes managed to secure a come-from-behind victory of the Blue in Auckland.

However it wasn’t the Hurricanes’ team performance that stood out, it was the effort from the Barrett brothers that made the headlines. Jordie has burst onto the scene as a dynamic 20 year old who looks as though he was born on the Super Rugby field. He looks unbelievably confident on the paddock and you would assume he’d have fifty Super Rugby games under his belt. He linked up perfectly with his older brother Beauden who had another incredible performance, despite picking up his third yellow in just two games. He was sublime on attack and once again left defenders in his wake with Bolt-like speed.

No matter who you supported on the weekend, you couldn’t help but applaud the brothers’ efforts. Everything they touched turn to gold, even if it was just by their fingertips.

By Tristan Renaud

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