Breakdown laws to produce more super14 tries

There were shocks, mini-shocks and some outstanding performances – but the second round of the Super 14 will be remembered for the series of high scores with the match between the Lions and the Chiefs the outstanding memory.

In the match at Coca-Cola Park 18 of the weekend’s 52 tries were scored – nine by each team in the Chiefs 65-72 win.

The reason for the weekend’s big scores is probably the new application of the breakdown law, where the tackler may no longer retrieve the ball after taking an opponent down.

This makes turnovers very difficult and gives a huge advantage to the attacking side.

The deluge of big scores also meant a deluge of tries – and the ease with which they were scored should be queried as being good for the game, especially as this weekend is unlikely to be a once-off.

“If you have the ball in the opposition 22, it’s basically only you who can lose the ball and not the opponents winning it,” said Bulls captain Victor Matfield, whose Bulls side recorded their second half-century in two outings.

“It’s very difficult to get your hands on the ball. It brings the necessity for a new game discipline, like kick offs, lineouts and so on.

“If you make a mistake in your own territory and forfeit possession, it will probably mean a try to the opposition.”

Matfield says he foresees more tries, but said he hopes it wouldn’t lead to the “crazy” situation of the 18 tries in the Lions versus Chiefs game.

Brumbies captain Stephen Hoiles agreed that there would be more tries flowing from the new application of the ruck law.

The past weekend had scores of 47, 50, 72 and 65 (in one game) and 41 recorded in seven matches.

Hoiles rued the poor discipline of his side – the second time in two weeks, he says – and feels this cost them against a clinical Bulls side that came back from 27-20 down to eventually run in five tries for their second bonus point in their 50-32 win.

They could, however, be without Matfield for the clash against the Waratahs on Saturday night. He has been cited for using an elbow and charging into a ruck without his arms.

Pierre Spies could also be a casualty after a bump on the shin.

The Stormers did some very good things in their 27-6 win over the Waratahs. However, coach Allister Coetzee must be slightly concerned as the Stormers were again on a few occasions out scrummed on their own ball.

The Stormers defence – and that of the Waratahs – was however outstanding, and the Stormers did enough on attack to show that they are indeed serious title contenders.

For the record, the Cape side again had to make nearly 80 tackles compared to their opponents’ 46, and this lack of possession – or taking care of what they have – could be a problem going forward.

What would have been pleased Coetzee was the way in which the home side hit the rucks with Andries Bekker looking a classy lock.

These is something wrong in Sharks country.

That has been evident for some time and the grumblings of some stalwarts cannot be ignored. The Cheetahs remain their bogey team, and the Bloemfontein side’s 25-20 win in Durban is a big knock for the Sharks.

They are now winless after two matches at home. This could come back to bite them at the play-off stage. What will be particularly worrying for coach John Plumtree is the loss of flair from a team that is increasingly looking as if they lack confidence.

From a Cheetahs perspective: the side showed heart, tackled well and wanted this win – their first away since 2007 against the Lions in Johannesburg.

The Lions fight back at Coca-Cola Park from 65-25 down to get a losing bonus point was outstanding. They looked good with ball in hand, scrummed well, were good in the rucks and lineouts and good on attack. The Chiefs however still won 72-65 and in truth only one team showed class.


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