By Lucky Vince Pienaar
As much as the South African teams struggle with winter conditions in the northern hemisphere, visitors have had to deal with summer conditions down south and it showed.
The Springboks who have finally been released to play in URC matches also helped the local teams to totally outclass the visitors.
➤ Did a yellow card in the last minute cost the Stormers a vital draw in the match against Cardiff in Wales? We’ll never know. The scores were tied until the Stormers’ Connor Evans was sent off the field and Cardiff immediately scored a maul try.
Cardiff’s seven-point victory gave the Stormers a losing bonus point but a bonus point for a fourth try would have come in very handy. It was not to be.
➤ Zebre Parma, who have been showing signs of not being the URC whipping boy, stayed in the hunt for the first half, but then the Lions devoured Zebre in the second.
The anticipated sparkling play from Lions flyhalf Sanele Lohamba didn’t happen simply because the visitors were totally overwhelmed. Coach Cash van Rooyen will be happy with his team’s performance, but marketing at Emirates Airline Park is still a failure. As expected, the 55,000-seat stadium was all but deserted.
➤ What a pleasure it was to see Willie le Roux managing the Bull’s backline! He also scored a try. A nice way to start his career in the blue jersey. Make no mistake, the match was won in the first place by the Bulls’ unstoppable forwards, but it was an all-round team performance that will make coach Jake White a very happy man.
The super-talented Canan Moodie came on with 20 minutes to go, and touched the ball only once which resulted in a knock-on. That’s rugby for you. No doubt, he’ll have a great game next week.
➤ Is it too little too late for the Sharks in the URC? The sheer display of class by the likes of Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi, Eben Etzebeth and Grant Williams was breathtaking. It helped the Sharks to a first URC win of the season, but they are still close to the bottom of the log. They have a long way to go.
Coaches Neil Powell and John Plumtree will have to find a way to get the entire team to perform and not just the superstars.
Cardiff (4 tries) 31-24 (3 tries) Stormers
Lions (9 tries) 61-19 (3 tries) Zebre
Bulls (7 tries) 53-27 (3 tries) Connacht
Sharks (10 tries) 69-14 (2 tries) Dragons
Pictured above: Aphelele Fassi of the Sharks.
Image source: X