Jarman’s Pick of the Week
This week was a tough choice as all of the SA sides did well but having said that I have to go with the conference topping Bulls who smashed a Rebels team looking for top spot themselves.
Playing at home the Melbourne Rebels would be confident of a win and the opening exchanges showed just how confident they are as they pinned the Bulls back early in this one. The Bulls however were resolute in defence and the Rebels had to work hard for their first score of the game that came in the form of a try from Marika Koroibete; great work from Dane Haylett-Petty in the build up not taking the ball to ground, instead popping the ball up to Koroibete, who crashed over for the first try in this one. Quade Cooper was on hand to slot the conversion 7-0 in the 8th minute and not the ideal start for the touring Bulls.
The tourists would hit back almost immediately and despite their lack of possession showed a sharpness in attack, a real will to get points on the board and they were rewarded for their tenacious attitude in the 11th minute when they drew a penalty from the Rebels. And with the advantage Handre Pollard picked out Cornal Hendricks with a perfectly weighted cross kick to the right hand touchline. Pollard then kicked the conversion to make it 7-7. The Rebels dominant in possession but not on the scoreboard.
The Bulls showing that it’s not how much possession you have, it’s what you do with it showed again just 6 minutes later that they don’t need much possession to score a try as they again put the Rebels under pressure in their 22 and again induced a penalty from the home side. This time Pollard faced with a lock in front of him and support players around him, decided to put on a bit of footwork to beat the big number 5 and canter through the gap he created to score untouched under the posts. The score was now 14-7 now to the men from Pretoria who was looking devastating on attack.
The home team would be next to score, following a box kick that came down kindly for the Rebels. The ball was snapped up by a Rebels player who passed it wide to Jack Maddocks, Maddocks looking for support found Will Genia who scored close to the corner. Cooper unable to convert meant the score was now 14-12 to the Bulls with 27 minutes gone.
The Bulls would add to their advantage just after the halftime hooter as they got another kickable penalty, hands in the ruck from the Rebels and Handre Pollard made no mistake with the kick from about 45 meters out; half time 17-12 to the Bulls.
Second half started in the same manner as the first with the home team on the front foot straight away. The pressure from the home team told in the 42nd minute as Koroibete was in for his brace. The Rebels worked the ball wide setting up a ruck just meters out from the Bulls tryline, the big winger then had a pick and go and showed all his strength to muscle his way over the line in the left hand corner. Cooper again missing the conversion meant it was 17-17 and the game in the balance.
The Bulls were next on the scoreboard in the 59th minute, Pollard in the thick of it sent Rosko Specman flying down the lef thand touchline. The winger then showed a moment of absolute magic as he chipped the ball forward and upon gathering his kick showed great presence of mind firstly to drop on the ball to secure it then to get back to his feet to find Burger Odendaal with an inside pass. Odendaal showed a clean pair of heal to score under the posts, the Bulls back into a 7 point lead at 24-17.
The tourists had now turned the tables on their Australian counterparts and were looking to press home their advantage in the 69th minute as they put pressure on the Rebels in the Rebels 22 and after some great handling skills from first Odendaal and Pollard to find Warrick Gelant, Gelant then threw a loopy long pass to that man again, Rosko Specman who duly scored in the corner the Bulls stretch their lead out to 12 points, 29-17 with 10 minutes to play.
The Bulls would add 3 more points from the boot of Pollard in the 74th minute to polish off a fine victory for the tourists downing the Rebels 32-17 in Melbourne and going to the top of their conference while doing it.
Lions VS Highlanders
With the Lions beating the Waratahs the week before and the Highlanders looking for more momentum after beating the Jaguares the week before this promised to be an exciting clash.
The first half was seesaw affair with both teams scoring 2 tries a piece Andries Coetzee and Kwagga Smith going over for the home Lions team and Patelesio Tomkins and Tom Franklin going over for the Highlanders. At the break the teams were only separated by one missed conversion by the Highlanders, 14-12 to the Lions at half time.
The Lions picked up where they left off in the second half scoring 3 more tries through Kwagga Smith, Shaun Reynolds and Courtnall Skosan. The Highlanders scored 3 tries if their own through Jordan Hyland, Matt Faddes and Josh Loane but it wasn’t enough as the Lions took this one 38-29 in the end goal kicking, costing the Highlanders a chance to get a win on the road as they missed 3 conversions on the day which wouldn’t have won it but the pressure may have told if the scores were closer as the Lions have shown teams through the backdoor on more than one occasion this season but they held out this time for a good home victory in front of the Lions faithful.
Stormers VS Crusaders
The Stormers playing at home in Cape Town faced a Crusaders outfit that demolished the Bulls at Loftus in Pretoria the week before and most pundits had this game going pretty much the same as that one before these two clashed at Newlands.
The home team came flying out the bocks racing to a 10-0 lead within 16 minutes, with a try from their Captain Siya Kolisi and a penalty from flyhalf Josh Stander. The Crusaders though did not panic and showed why they are defending chaps with 2 first half tries from Matt Todd and David Havili to lead the home team 12-10 at the break.
The second half did not start well for the Stormers as the Crusaders were in again just after half time, Braydon Ennor dotting down and Richie Mo’unga slotting the conversion took the Crusaders out to a 9 point lead at 19-10; The Stormers, showed great resilience though and clawed their way back into the game with 2 penalty kicks one from Josh Stander again and one from Jean-Luc Du Plessis.
The last ten minutes was a great spectacle as first the Crusaders thought they had won it with a try from Sevu Reece but it was ruled out with a forward pass in the build -up, then the Stormers in the last minutes had a penalty advantage and replacement fly half out through a grubber kick for Damian Willemse to chase down. The fullback got to the ball but the bounce of the oval ball eluded him as he was left to wonder what if, Jean-Luc then stepped up to kick a nervy but in the end easy kick to level the scores as the full time hooter sounded, the teams share the spoils in an entertaining draw at Newlands.