It was a bleak weekend for South Africa’s Super 14 franchises, despite the Stormers’ lone win over the Highlanders on Saturday.
News24 reports that with only three matches remaining in the competition the country’s two semi-final contenders, the Sharks and Stormers, now have it all to do to clinch a home semi-final.
The Sharks, who have never really been convincing this season, again stuttered with a number of individuals starring but the team not putting it together.
Their 25-10 loss to the Waratahs saw the latter move ahead of them on the log. The Sharks are now in third place.
It was their second defeat in two matches and, with the Crusaders awaiting them this weekend, their season could go totally pear-shaped if they don’t turn the quality of their play around.
The Stormers, who have had an up-and-down record against the Highlanders, were always in control, but the fact that they could not score four tries against the lowly Otago side saw them slide to sixth position on the log. The scoreline of 26-16 does not tell of the Stormers’ struggle to come to terms with their game.
The visitors gave their all, and one got the impression that the Stormers were a little tense with a resultant lack of fluency in their play.
Very last move
They face a difficult Brumbies side at Newlands next weekend, although the Canberra-based franchise were a little fortunate to clinch their match against the Lions with the very last move of the day on Friday.
They won 28-21 in Canberra in what was a heartbreaking match for the Lions, who played well before the break and at times had the home side on the rack. But finishing and slipped first-time tackles throughout the match cost the Lions a possible second win.
The Cheetahs were no match for the Hurricanes in their 38-10 loss in Bloemfontein and are now obviously without confidence after their season started with so much promise. But the earlier near-misses that meant defeat now have them in a rut where they obviously don’t believe they can win.
The best match this weekend was undoubtedly between the Blues and Crusaders, although the clash between the Reds and the Chiefs also provided rugby to savour. The skills of these four teams made one marvel at what rugby can be like – despite the detractors of the Super 14 up north.
For the record, Crusaders won 26-22 and were made to fight for every try and point on their home turf.
Chiefs were the better side in their clash and seemed to have it wrapped up early in the match, but the Reds – a pleasant surprise this season – nearly put an end to their semi-final aspirations with the scoreline of 32-20 a little flattering for the Chiefs.Tweet