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Keegan Daniel and Jean de Villiers © Gallo Images

Super Rugby 2012: Year in Pictures



In terms of South African interest in Super Rugby, this past year’s competition was better than most, with three local sides making it into the extended round of play-offs, and one into the final.

- THE YEAR IN PICTURES

But it was a somewhat bizarre year, with the Sharks operating under the radar for most of the way before suddenly hitting their straps in the last two months. They just snuck into the knock-outs in sixth position, but were good enough to win two matches on the road, one against the Reds in Brisbane and the other against the Stormers in Cape Town.

Ultimately though the travel they had to do was just too much, and their win at Newlands against the log winners effectively ensured that it would be New Zealand’s year. The Chiefs, runners-up on the final overall log, never had to leave their North Island base in either the semi-final or the decider, and were way too good for the fatigued Sharks in the game that really mattered.

The Sharks were once again made to pay for their failure to win the South African conference. In the previous year they fell short because they had to go to Nelson for their play-off game. But home ground advantage in semi-finals doesn’t appear to help the Stormers, who this year added a second consecutive disappointing Newlands exit to their loss to Crusaders at the same stage in 2011.

The Stormers topped the Super Rugby log for the first time in their history, although the feat only served to add to the strangeness of the year in that they never once picked up a bonus point for scoring four tries or more. Their lack of practice at chasing tries was fingered by some critics as the reason why they fell short when they had to play catch-up against jetlagged opponents in their semi-final.

The Bulls were in a rebuilding phase after the retirement and departure of a raft of legendary figures, and in that sense they would have been happy with their fifth placed finish. The tame manner though that they surrendered to the Crusaders in their play-off game was disappointing, and in the last two months they lost their way after being up with the leaders for most of the competition.

The season was dominated by New Zealand and South African teams, with the Australian challenge being way of the pace. For much of the season it was the Brumbies, coached by former Springbok mentor Jake White, who led the conference Down Under, but the champion Reds, who endured a most disappointing campaign, snuck into the play-offs in the last round.

They were well beaten by the Sharks in the knock-out fixture and the weakness of the Australian conference is one of the major concerns as we head towards a 2013 edition which will feature one change, with the Southern Kings being promoted to the main table by boardroom decree at the expense of the Lions, who finished last in both the conference and on the overall log.

To review the Super Rugby year in pictures, click on the link below (web and mobi only):

- CLICK HERE FOR THE YEAR IN PICTURES - SUPER RUGBY 2012



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