A look at the stats reveals that the Cheetahs won the battle of the breakdown, the Stormers took the lineouts, and the Bulls changed tactics to make seven linebreaks.
Tracey Nelson of the New Zealand Herald crunched the key statistics from the weekend’s three Super Rugby matches between Kiwi and South African teams, and came up with the conclusion that the New Zealand teams coughed up too much ball.
HIGHLANDERS v CHEETAHS (19-36)
Cheetahs won the battle of the breakdown, winning four turnovers plus twice holding the Highlanders up in maul situations.
Lima Sopoaga threw two passes that resulted in Cheetahs tries, along with putting two restarts out on the full.
Handling errors were a major problem for the Highlanders, not only knocking the ball on nine times but also making five passing mistakes that resulted in a loss of possession.
The Highlanders made seven linebreaks to three, with Kade Poki scoring a hat-trick on the night. But despite scoring three tries to two, it was Johan Goosen’s boot that was the difference landing 5 penalties and 3 conversions for a 100 percent kicking record.
Lappies Labuschagne was a colossus, making six ball carries for a gain of 50 metres as well as making 26 tackles. Reserve prop Coenie Oosthuizen also stood out with two tackle turnovers won.
Sarel Pretorious made an impressive 118 running metres and scored two tries.
STORMERS v CHIEFS (36-34)
Plenty counter-attacking from both sides given that there were six knock-ons in the first half, but the first scrum of wasn’t set until the 28th minute. There were only eight scrums in total.
De Kock Steenkamp was impressive come lineout time, taking three steals in total – including the first two lineouts of the Chiefs.
The Chiefs discipline let them down, with 12 penalties and two yellow cards conceded. They struggled with containing rolling mauls by the Stormers, conceding two penalties for either collapsing the maul or entering the maul incorrectly.
Sam Cane was the top tackler with 22, but missed three tackles – as did Asaeli Tikoirotuma on the left wing. In total the Chiefs missed 22 tackles, while the Stormers missed just 12.
There was plenty of kicking, with 19 kicks from hand by the Stormers and 20 by the Chiefs. The Chiefs used two grubber kicks by Aaron Cruden to good effect – resulting in tries to Charlie Ngatai.
The Chiefs scored four tries yet still lost the game due to the number of kickable penalties conceded. Joe Pietersen landed five penalties and three conversions for a 100 percent kicking record.
This was just the second time in 52 games that the Stormers have conceded four tries in a match.
BLUES v BULLS (21-28)
Too many handling errors cost the Blues dearly with 11 knock-ons and two passing errors all giving possession back to the Bulls. The Bulls only made six handling errors in this game, with five knock-ons and one forward pass.
The Blues kept the kicking to a minimum in this game, with just 13 kicks from hand, compared to the 22 made by the Bulls.
The Bulls changed tactics to make seven linebreaks while the Blues could only muster four.
Despite missing 25 tackles (more than twice that of the Blues), the Bulls managed to scramble on defence and force the errors from the Blues to regain possession and clear their line.
Rene Ranger stood out with two clean linebreaks, 105 running metres, and a tackle turnover won.
The Blues conceded eight penalties, three of them by Liaki Moli, all in the first half of the match.