Coronavirus News Africa

Lions, Bulls so much worse off than in 2019!


Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Floundering:
that is the only way to describe the two Highveld franchises in Super Rugby at
the point when the plug was pulled indefinitely due to the coronavirus … particularly
if compared to their corresponding starts to last year’s campaign.

By contrast,
the South African coastal pair of the Sharks and Stormers are each more promisingly
placed than after their equivalent number of matches in 2019, though perhaps not
by quite as much as some might have anticipated.

Here are the
statistical match-ups …

SHARKS

After seven games this year: six wins, one loss, 24 points

After seven games last year: four wins, three losses, 21 points

Difference: Three points better off

The
KwaZulu-Natalians ended at the recent, enforced “cut” as the team with the most
points overall across the competition, a very satisfying state of affairs even
with some challengers right on their tails.

Surprisingly,
though, they are only three points superior than they were last year after the
same number of fixtures … despite two more victories.

There is one
obvious reason: all their 2020 wins have come without the addition of a bonus
point, making them the only team alongside the bottom-placed Sunwolves tournament-wide
not to have registered a single success in that regard.

While the
2019 Sharks, then under Robert du Preez’s tutelage, had had a hugely
inconsistent passage after seven games, they did get “full house” victories
three times (Sunwolves, Blues and Lions) plus losing bonus points against each
of the Stormers and Bulls.

Keep in mind
also that last year’s Sharks had not had their main Australasian tour yet: Sean
Everitt’s buoyant 2020 charges are done and dusted on that front, with three
commendable victories out of four, so their position is even rosier in many
respects than it may appear.

STORMERS

After six
games this year:
four
wins, two losses, 17 points

After six
games last year:
three
wins, three losses, 14 points

Difference: Three points better off

This year’s
Stormers are one win better as things stand than in 2019, despite the fact that
both of their last two games before the suspension this season were defeats … dulling
some of the positives from that roaring, four-out-of-four start.

Still under
Robbie Fleck’s coaching regime, they began the last campaign with an
unceremonious bump, losing 40-3 to the Bulls in a Loftus derby, before a three-game
recovery that saw them post wins against all of the Lions, Sharks and Jaguares
before two, start-of-tour reverses to the Hurricanes and Blues.

This year’s
Stormers – also now riddled with injuries to key Springboks and some others – have
not yet set foot out of South Africa.

BULLS

After six
games this year:
one
win, five losses, six points

After six
games last year:
four
wins, two losses, 17 points

Difference:
11 points worse off

The 2019
Bulls (eventually qualifiers for the knockouts) were a whole three victories
superior to their 2020 showing to this point, which really sums up their
current pickle.

They’d
thrashed the Stormers (40-3) at Loftus, beaten the Lions (30-12) in nearby
Johannesburg, whipped the Sharks back in Pretoria (37-14) and also seen off the
Durban-based visitors again in a rematch at the seaside (19-16), though played clear
second fiddle to the Chiefs at Loftus and Jaguares in Buenos Aires.

Pote Human’s
2020 outfit can only boast one win (Highlanders 38-13 at Loftus) from their
half-dozen completed assignments, and were already up against it on a cut-short
tour: a 41-17 defeat to the Reds after frittering a 17-0 advantage early in the
Brisbane tussle.

LIONS

After six
games this year:
one
win, five losses, five points

After six
games last year:
four
wins, two losses, 18 points

Difference: 13 points worse off

The men from
the Big Smoke have been the biggest South African “fallers” in log points terms
when measured against the corresponding period in 2019.

Clinging to
that lone home success so far against the Reds on February 8 in the present
campaign, the one excuse they can muster when weighed against their equivalent
start last season is that three of their losses have come on the difficult trek
across the Indian Ocean – they’d had one tour match still to play (Highlanders,
Dunedin) when the suspension took effect.

In 2019, they’d
already done a praiseworthy “double” over strong eventual finalists the Jaguares,
winning 25-16 away and 47-39 at home.

*Follow
our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing
 





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