Rugby | 5 talking points: Super Rugby Week 3

Cape Town – Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Round 3 of the 2016 Super Rugby competition:

1. Controversial Sharks penalty try

There’s no doubt the penalty try awarded to the Sharks in their 18-13 Super Rugby win against the Stormers was the biggest talking point this past weekend.

The Sharks were awarded a controversial penalty try early in the second half of the match at Newlands after Marius Jonker, the television match official, deemed that Stormers flank Siya Kolisi kicked the ball out of Sharks scrumhalf Cobus Reinach’s hands as he attempted to dot the ball down.

Kolisi was also sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes.

Watching replays of the incident, it’s clear to me that it was not Kolisi’s intention to kick the ball out of Reinach’s grasp. And was it really a kick? Did Reinach not just put the ball on Kolisi’s boot?

According to Jonker, it’s irrelevant whether it was Kolisi’s intention or not.

“The rule does not deal with what a player’s intention was. If his foot did not make contact with the ball, then a try would in all likelihood have been scored. You also can’t award a penalty try if the incident does not warrant a yellow card,” Jonker said.

Those may be the rules, but surely Kolisi’s actions do not warrant a yellow card as Jonker states here?

Here is a description of Law 10.2 (a): “A penalty try must be awarded if the offence prevents a try that would probably otherwise have been scored. A player who prevents a try being scored through foul play must either be cautioned and temporarily suspended or sent off.”

Jonker will argue he used the letter of the law, but I can’t see that Kolisi in this instance ever committed foul play, so the ruled in a way contradicts itself.

It was also interesting to note retired referee Jonathan Kaplan’s views on the incident. According to Kaplan, Reinach could also have been penalised for using his left arm to propel himself forward.

Kaplan also felt that it was questionable that Kolisi’s actions could be deemed as a kick in the first instance.

This is clearly a hot topic of discussion and perhaps an amendment of the laws is needed in this regard…

2. Lions come unstuck in Dunedin

I felt the Lions’ biggest problem in their 34-15 loss to the Highlanders in Dunedin was their struggles at scrum time. It was the first time in a long while that the men from Johannesburg struggled in this department and it played a part in their undoing.

Credit though needs to go to the Lions who fought back with two tries in the final quarter to ensure the Kiwis lost their try-scoring bonus-point.

It could also have been a different game if Lions wing Ruan Combrinck was not held up over the goalline in the 12th minute. Combrinck was over the line, but replays showed he was brilliantly held up by All Black centre Malakai Fekitoa.

3. Same old, same old Stormers

The penalty try decision was no doubt the determining factor in their loss, but the Stormers’ reverse to the Sharks was perhaps a wake-up call for the Cape side.

They dominated possession and territory and should have had more to show than just 13 points.

Their attack was again too lateral and predictable and reminded of the Allister Coetzee-era where tries were hard to come by.

Credit to a resolute Sharks defence, but the Stormers need to learn to play with more variation in their play.

The try scored by Leolin Zas, where Cheslin Kolbe mixed things up with a chip kick over a flat lying Sharks defence, was a case in point that more variation will be needed by the Stormers in 2016.

4. Long season ahead for Kings

It was notable how many pundits praised the Kings’ enthusiasm these past few weeks, but quite frankly, I find it hard to get excited by what I’ve seen thus far from the Port Elizabeth-based team.

101 points conceded in two home games paints an ugly picture and it could get even worse when they meet the Crusaders and Hurricanes abroad over the next two weeks.

I’ll say it again, SARU should feel embarrassed by the way the whole build-up to the Kings playing Super Rugby unfolded.

5. Lots to work on for Cheetahs

The Cheetahs need to be lauded for fighting back from 31-13 down to defeat the Sunwolves, but coach Franco Smith has lots to work on for the season ahead.

The starting front row of Ox Nche, Jacques du Toit and Johan Coetzee did not impose themselves on the Sunwolves and the Cheetahs took control when Charles Marais, Torsten van Jaarsveld and Maks van Dyk played in the second half.

For me, the Cheetahs defence remains suspect and flying Sunwolves wing Akihito Yamada’s hat-trick in the first half proved as much.

Nick Mallett was perhaps right when he summed it up afterwards: “The Cheetahs will be relieved with the win, but I can’t see either of these two teams challenging for quarter-final places.”

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