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Attacking intent can only be good for SA rugby

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The Marvel-themed action should have also served another purpose – to feed an attacking mindset that can only do South African rugby good.

DHL Stormers Ruhan Nel (left) tries to tackle Cell C Sharks Makazole Mapimpi during the Super Hero Sunday match played at Soccer City, Johannesburg, on Sunday. Picture: EPA-EFE/KIM LUDBROOK

Nobody can say that Superhero Sunday wasn’t entertaining, that’s for sure. But the Marvel-themed action should have also served another purpose – to feed an attacking mindset that can only do South African rugby good. 
While the Stormers and Bulls will be pleased that they got the results to complement that excitement, they – and their fans – won’t need any reminding that pre-season results aren’t the first thing to consider when trying to work out your odds ahead of a proper Super Rugby game. 
One thing that can and should be noted from the past weekend’s activity is the brand of rugby that was put on show. Wouldn’t it be good to see more of that from the SA teams this year? 
They definitely have the personnel, after all. 
A pleasing number of individuals showed confidence on the attack, and they brought the accuracy to boot. 
Yeah, there were many scrappy patches, as one should expect after a significant spell without playing time. But, overall, it also showed glimpses of the kind of play SA players can produce and what fans can be treated to. 
Going with a more ball-in-hand approach is something that has definitely been given more air time by SA coaches in recent years, and the Stormers, in particular, have made no secret of their attacking goals over the last few years. We’ve also seen it. 
It’s an approach the long-serving bastions of structure, the Bulls, have flirted with, so have the Sharks. And with a backline like that, it would be a crying shame if it doesn’t continue to feature on their to-do list. 
It’s also an approach the Lions have made their primary weapon, so much so that they have been accused of becoming too one-dimensional in that regard and not showing enough respect for “pragmatic” rugby. 
Under former coach Robbie Fleck, it was one of the Stormers’ goals. But in order to grow in that regard, as with anything else, it needs to be consistently worked at … something that the Stormers perhaps haven’t done enough of, despite the verbal ambition. They looked good in that department at times, but you could never really shake the feeling that they would creep back into their shells once the going got tough. 
But Dobson has made it clear that the strike force they have at their disposal cannot go to waste and that their game should be built around those players, players like Sergeal Petersen, Damian Willemse and Dillyn Leyds.
Just imagine that. I mean, look at the beauty and efficiency fans in Soweto were treated to when Lukhanyo Am kicked ahead for Makazole Mapimpi to chase. That vision and fine execution gave his fellow Springbok the opportunity, and it was one that Mapimpi didn’t let go to waste as he gathered the ball before scoring. 
Look at Lions general Elton Jantjies’ devastating attacking mixture.
All of those clips can become regular fixtures going forward. Not at the expense of any other “traditional” strengths, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. The Boks’ success in Japan and how they achieved it was something else. It could serve as the perfect turning point. 
So, wouldn’t a fine continuation of that be seeing the SA teams perform and entertain like they did at the weekend more regularly, and not just when they are in their Marvel jerseys?