Round 16 of the Super Rugby competition was definitely one which yielded some surprises results-wise and left a few teams with a lot on their minds going into the June International test rugby break
The only matches played by South African sides were home derbies, with the Lions causing a major upset against the Bulls, placing serious stress on the Pretoria-based franchise and creating doubt as to whether they will qualify for a play-off position in the 2014 season. The other derby was the much anticipated Sharks versus Stormers match, which resulted in a shock win by the 11th placed Stormers over the top-of-the-log Sharks side, at home, in Durban. A 79th minute drop goal to win the match by Full-Back cum Centre, Jaco Taute, displayed nerves of steel and will definitely get Springbok coach, Heyneker Meyer, wondering whether he should have opted to include Taute in the 36 man training squad which he named recently.
Even the Bulls captain, Flip van der Merwe, admits that the playoff spot seems rather out of reach for the Bulls at this stage, as they are yet to win an away match in their 2014 campaign and they still have to play the Stormers at Newlands in Cape Town. That will be a testing match for the big men from Pretoria, as the Stormers will be brimming with confidence after their stellar performance against the Sharks over the weekend.
The result from the Lions vs. Bulls Gauteng derby this weekend has also cemented the Sharks as the winners of the South African conference, as no other team can catch them from this week forward. In spite of this fact, the Sharks’ coach, Jake White, expressed his disappointment after their loss, “Playing eight games in a row isn’t easy and then the Springbok camp this week didn’t help,” White said post-match. The Sharks lost ten players to a Springbok training camp at the start of last week.
The Lions will also be pleased with the fact that their Flyhalf, Marnitz Boshoff has been included in the Springbok squad after Stormers player, Damian de Allende withdrew due to injury.
In other news, former Sharks coaches, John Plumtree and Chris Boyd, have announced that they will be coaching New Zealand franchise, the Hurricanes in the 2015 season. They are moving there with the aim to create a brand out of Hurricanes rugby, by engaging with the fans, and playing entertaining rugby, with the hopes to fill the stadium once again.
Round 16 results wrap-up:
Crusaders 30-7 Force
Reds 38-31 Highlanders
Waratahs 33-17 Chiefs
Brumbies 37-10 Rebels
Stormers 21-19 Sharks
Blues 37-24 Hurricanes
Lions 32-21 Bulls
Super Rugby will resume on Friday 27 June 2014