Vincent Tshituka of the Lions scores rugby. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix Lions vs Sharks

Vincent Tshituka of the Lions scores. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

KEY TAKEAWAYS: SA derbies provide rugby food for thought

After an interesting couple of South African rugby derbies in the URC this past weekend, we pick three key takeaways to mull over.

Vincent Tshituka of the Lions scores rugby. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix Lions vs Sharks

Vincent Tshituka of the Lions scores. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

UNITED RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP REVIEW: LIONS GO TOP OF SHIELD AFTER SA DERBY WEEKEND

SHARKS MAKE A MASSIVE STATEMENT

Prior to the clash at Kings Park on Friday night, Bulls coach Jake White laid down the challenge to the Sharks, effectively saying: “Let’s see how good you are!”

As it turned out, the match was far from the most free-flowing contest, with the Bulls in fact holding onto a handy lead at half-time.

Yet, the Sharks turned on their power game in the second half after dominating the scrums, while Lukhanyo Am sprinkled some of his usual magic on proceedings to inspire the home side to a comfortable 30-16 victory.

Now keep in mind that the Sharks can still look forward to adding the likes of Ox Nche, Jaden Hendrikse and Sikhumbuzo Notshe to their player arsenal, and it becomes clear just how strong the Durbanites could be next year.

With the backing of big-money investors and a tight-knit team culture, the result on Friday did offer some notable signs that 2022 could be the year of the Sharks on the local scene.

VINCENT TSHITUKA IMPRESSES AGAIN

There is just so much to like about the Lions’ DRC-born loose forward, who was a standout performer once again this past weekend.

With pace, power and plenty of skill, he is one of the most dynamic flankers on the domestic scene, and has truly enjoyed a breakthrough year with the Lions.

The 23-year-old was named Man of the Match in the Lions’ impressive win over the Stormers, with the big man finishing off a superb try as he imposed himself throughout a compelling encounter.

Unfortunately due to passport issues, Tshituka is not yet available for Springbok consideration, but one can only hope that SA Rugby makes an effort to help resolve this if possible.

There can be no doubt that the talented youngster must be someone who is starting to catch the eye of the national coaches, and looks to have all the attributes of a future Springbok.

LIONS REVIVAL GOOD FOR SA RUGBY

It’s really not that long ago that the Lions were the leading South African domestic side, reaching three Super Rugby finals in succession before that particular group of players and coaching staff largely disintegrated.

There has been a steady period of rebuilding, with the Lions most recently bolstering their coaching group with a couple of new additions, and it does appear that the team’s identity is slowly being re-established.

The Lions may not be be filled with big-name Springbok players, but it’s the likes of Tshituka and Wandisile Simelane who epitomise the talents available.

After thrashing the Stormers in Cape Town, the Lions should take plenty of confidence into the new year, and it can only be good for South African rugby to see the Johannesburg-based side playing with confidence and belief once again.