The Waratahs’ skills are not good enough and we should be asking why.2. Blues’ second try was another coach killerNed Hanigan and Rob Simmons will not like this footage. Blues No.10 Stephen Perofeta was the man who bisected them in midfield to create the break that led to Tumua Manu’s try but it was really out of nothing. The Blues were still down a man at the time and Perofeta was playing with relatively static ball yet he still managed to sell Hanigan the dummy and beat him with a right-foot step.Yes, Perofeta is a sharp runner, but the Waratahs would have been told before the game to watch out for that signature move. And once he was inside Simmons just didn’t have the agility to cover him. Two Wallabies, yet not one hand was laid on Perofeta.3. The old Rebels reappeared on Friday nightThe Rebels’ heavy loss to the Crusaders on Friday certainly played into the ‘Australian rugby in crisis’ narrative, although it can be softened by one fact: put this particular Crusaders team against a lot of teams throughout Super Rugby history and a flogging is a possibility. This a good version of that famous franchise.Still, when Sam Whitelock took a second-half restart, broke one tackle and exposed a lazy chase to gallop upfield, it looked awfully like Rebels teams of the past who gave away too many points too easily. The difference between their best and their worst in Melbourne is still wide and it has been a particularly chastening few weeks for some of their front-rowers who have been on the fringe of the Wallabies and would have seen this year as a chance to kick on.4. Ben Lam might be the unlucky oneThe word is that the big Hurricanes winger will not make the first All Blacks squad of the year for the series against France. If that’s the case, he will be the unluckiest exclusion.Against the Lions in Wellington he showed his ability to manufacture points out of nothing, spinning out of tackles with that upright running style and turning on the pace once he gets a bit of room.But will it be enough to push out Rieko Ioane and Waisake Naholo, his most ‘like-for-like’ rivals for one winger’s spot? Not likely. His chances are also reduced by the perky return of Nehe Milner-Skudder, who is threatening to form a lethal backfield partnership with Beauden Barrett.5. The South Africans are stirringA sizeable, fervent crowd to watch the excellent Stormers v Bulls game, and a dominant display by the Sharks over the Highlanders, where former Rebel Tyrel Lomax’s tough season continued – the arrow is pointing upwards in South Africa.Perhaps the best indicator of their overall health is their situation at No.10. Lions and Springboks Elton Jantjies is comfortably their worst-performing playmaker, with Damian Willemse (Stormers), Robert du Preez (Sharks) and Handre Pollard (Bulls) all in better touch (and younger).Their collective scrummaging is also looking powerful, and tight-head Lomax has had two rough weekends in succession at the hands of the Bulls and Sharks. It’s a bit early to say what this means for the Springboks, but they’ve got some big men throughout their packs who are starting to show an offload game. Eddie Jones and England will be slightly nervous.* Team of the Week is on hiatus until an Australian team wins a game Paul Cully is a rugby columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald.Morning & Afternoon NewsletterDelivered Mon–Fri.


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