Tue. Oct 20th, 2020

Super Rugby Unlocked: Five things we learned during round two

Here we look at five things we have gleaned from the second round of Super Rugby Unlocked action that took place this weekend.

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The second weekend of Super Rugby Unlocked is in the bag with the Cheetahs leading the race for the trophy.

In what was the second week of competitive rugby after a long break we saw the tournament establish some early patterns this weekend.

Five things learned during Super Rugby Unlocked round two

Here are five things we learned from this weekend’s Super Rugby Unlocked.

The Cheetahs have some steel

The Cheetahs have over recent seasons established themselves as an exciting attacking force, but in their victory over the Bulls in Bloemfontein on Friday, they showed they could also grind out a result.

Much of that has been imbued upon the team by the presence of Frans Steyn in midfield. The double Rugby World Cup winner made more tackles than any of his teammates, and his prodigious boot provides the Cheetahs with an easy out from sticky situations.

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Ruan Nortje of the Bulls and Frans Steyn of the Cheetahs during the Super Rugby Unlocked match between the Cheetahs and Bulls on 16 October 2020 at Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein, South Africa (Photo by Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images)

The Cheetahs forwards work hard on defence and ball retention creating a fantastic base off of which their exciting outside backs can operate.

The intensity is there, the execution is absent

The match between the Lions and the Stormers was played with Test match intensity but was spoiled by errors on both sides.

 A series of elementary errors saw play consistently break down with handling errors the most common sin. Neither side was content to play one-out rugby, but their enterprise was not matched with execution.

Attempts at structured play fell foul of mistakes and disruptions but this was to be expected under the circumstances.

Lions need some luck in Super Rugby Unlocked

The Lions have strung together some of the best passages of play seen in Super Rugby Unlocked, but they have fallen short in both their matches.

A slick 80-metre counterattack featuring forwards and backs for Rabz Maxwane’s try was the high point of their weekend while their penalty count is a clear and obvious weakness.

The Lions gave away 13 penalties in their loss to the Stormers although some were borderline decisions that dealt a hammer blow to their ambitions.

That pre-season feel is still present

While many of the matches have been played with great intensity some of the decision-making suggests that the players have a pre-season mindset.

The Stormers turned down several shots at goal only to butcher attempts to set up rolling mauls from attacking lineouts.

The Super Rugby Unlocked trophy will be decided on league position so the teams should really be focused on maximising their early points haul.

The gap between the big five and Griquas and Pumas is massive

Griquas and the Pumas met in a match that had a second-tier feel to it in Kimberley on Saturday afternoon. 

The sweltering heat certainly didn’t help the sides but their best foot forward but after two rounds it already seems clear that the winners of this competition will be one of the big five (Cheetahs, Bulls, Lions, Stormers, Sharks).

Super Rugby Unlocked Pumas Griquas - Super Rugby Unlocked: Five things we learned during round two
Devon Williams of the Pumas during the Super Rugby Unlocked match between Griquas and Pumas at Tafel Lager Park on 17 October 2020 in Kimberley, South Africa. (Photo by Louis Botha/Griquas Rugby Union/Gallo Images)

Griquas let slip a chance to score some crucial points in a home game against the one team they would expect to beat.

Both sides remain a dangerous prospect when underestimated but shouldn’t really mount a significant title challenge.

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