It was undoubtedly worth the while for the relevant coaches in determining fitness, form and depth, but not much should be read into results of the Stormers, Bulls and Lions warm-up matches on Saturday.
As was to be expected, it was a case of stuttering interspersed with some good play by all three teams with another observation being that much work still lies ahead before the Super Rugby series can be approached with confidence in three weeks’ time.
♦ For the record, the Bulls beat the Lions 21-17 at Loftus after leading 21-10 at the break, while in Cape Town the Stormers ran in 14 tries in their warm-up against promising club players, excluding students, when they had their first contact of the season in very hot conditions at the False Bay Rugby Club..
None of the teams used their current Springboks, but there were highlights from youngsters and fringe players that would have caught the eye with a view to the real thing when the Super Rugby series kicks off in three weeks’ time.
At False Bay’s field where the club side and Stormers group played only two chukkas of 20 minutes each, the franchise centre Dan du Plessis scored four tries before the turn-over. The Stormers Springboks and a Stormers conditioning group went through their fitness paces before the match but did not play in the warm-up.
At Loftus, the Bulls scrummed well, the centres JT Jackson and Franco Naude combined well for the home side, and former sevens star Rosko Specman scored a good turnover try from his own half. There were also good performances from Bulls captain on the day Ruaan Steenkamp, and the class of the Lions three-quarters, in particular Wandisile Simelane, shone through when the Lions started playing with greater confidence after the break.
What did the coaches learn? That plenty of work is still needed before the season starts, that the Bulls in particular have good and quality depth, and that the Bulls could surprise with heir scrummaging this year where they at last have some depth after some lean years.