Rugby | 5 talking points: Boks v Ireland, 1st Test

Cape Town – Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points following the Springboks’ 26-20 defeat to Ireland in the first Test at Newlands:

1. CJ Stander sees red

It was always going to be a hot topic of discussion after South African-born flank CJ Stander was sent off following an aerial collision with Springbok flyhalf Pat Lambie.

Lambie was stretchered off and I cannot help but think that it played a part in French referee Mathieu Raynal dishing out a red card.

Would Stander have been sent off if Lambie had got straight up? I highly doubt it and it was unlucky for Stander that he struck the Bok pivot in that way.

Stander was committed to the charge down and could not possibly have changed direction mid-air.

However, the current rules of the game are very strict when it comes to mid-air collisions and the onus is on the defending player jumping to not hurt his opposite number.

Technically, a red card may have been the right call but for a contact sport some sanity should prevail in crucial decisions like these…

2. Was Lwazi Mvovo’s try legit?

Lwazi Mvovo scored a spectacular try under the posts when he took an inside pass at full pace from Elton Jantjies.

However, as Nick Mallett noted in the SuperSport studio afterwards, the try maybe should not have been awarded due to possible obstruction from Damian de Allende, who made contact with an Irish defender.

Luckily for the Springboks, the referee was more interested in a possible forward pass and late hit on Jantjies.

It was no forward pass and Ireland centre Robbie Henshaw was also sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes.

That prompts me to ask the question: What if Jantjies had gone down like Lambie and was also stretchered off? I’m pretty sure the French referee would then also have dished out a red card. The tackle was late and high and in my book more severe than the Stander incident…

3. Faf de Klerk a shining light for Boks

Most of the Springbok players embarrassed themselves, but debutant scrumhalf Faf de Klerk can at least hold his head high.

His service was sharp and he set the tone for a lively 70 minutes with a gutsy, crunching hit on Irish loosehead prop Jack McGrath early in the game.

De Klerk is only 1.70m and 80kg, but the manner in which he dumped the 1.85m and 120kg prop backwards was a sight to behold.

4. Why so high JP?

They did not deserve a result from this game, but the Springboks could have snatched a last-gasp win when wing JP Pietersen had a chance to score in the corner.

The decision went upstairs as replays showed that Pietersen was forced in touch by the Irish defence.

But questions need to be asked why Pietersen went in so high before he was tackled.

Mallett was right to note afterwards: “You’ve got to duck your head down at knee level, and dive inwards so that the tacklers can’t hold you up and bundle you into touch. I’m not saying we would have kicked the conversion, but he must finish better than that.”

5. Key players need to up their game

There were several under-achievers in the Springbok team on Saturday, but the performance of fullback Willie le Roux has been a worry all year now.

Le Roux’s unpredictability is touted as his greatest asset but at Test level a player cannot warrant a starting spot for one or two spectacular moments in a game. It surely does not make up for several glaring errors as was again evident on Saturday.

As our chief writer Rob Houwing also noted, Le Roux “was just too predictable in his very quest to be unpredictable”.

He made some badly-weighted off-loads, one glaring defensive fumble, and was very lateral on attack.

Damian de Allende has also struggled since his return from injury and his defensive organisation was again below standard on Saturday, while up front Frans Malherbe’s ill-discipline proved costly.

Duane Vermeulen and Francois Louw also proved rusty, while the lineout jumpers were overshadowed by 2.10m beanpole Devon Toner, who was duly named man-of-the-match.

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