Cape Town – Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Round 4 of the 2016 Super Rugby competition:
1. High drama at Loftus
Friday night’s clash between the Bulls and Sharks at Loftus Versfeld ended in bizarre circumstances.
Bulls replacement flyhalf Tian Schoeman kicked a long-range penalty to level matters at 16-16 with less than a minute to play, only for Sharks flank Marcell Coetzee to win a last-gasp penalty on the ground in what should have won the game for the visitors.
However, Joe Pietersen missed an absolute sitter in front of the posts to see the game end in a stalemate.
The Sharks though learned a hard lesson that one should not overzealously celebrate before a game is actually won.
They celebrated wildly as the referee awarded the penalty, only to be left stunned when Pietersen botched his attempt.
In my view, the Bulls did enough to deserve a draw after many had written them off beforehand and a draw was perhaps a fair result.
2. Fleck outfoxes Larkham
It may not have been the case often during their playing days, but Stormers coach Robbie Fleck outfoxed his Brumbies counterpart in Saturday night’s clash at Newlands.
Fleck has expressed his desire to play running rugby and in the build-up to Saturday’s clash, more of the same was expected.
However, the Stormers kicked often in this game and in doing so turned the Brumbies’ big forwards and backs around.
It prevented the Brumbies from building momentum, forced them to play from deep and reduced the influence of their dangerous fetchers.
It was a masterstroke by Fleck.
3. Defensive Cheetahs frailties
Before their clash against the Lions in Johannesburg, Cheetahs coach Franco Smith insisted that they had worked hard on their defence.
He also insisted that they had the right defensive structures in place and that it was rather individuals slipping tackles at crucial times.
Whatever the reasons, the fact is that the Cheetahs are not showing enough commitment on defence. They have already slipped more than 100 tackles in the competition and missing 20 in the first half cost them the game against the Lions.
It simply has to be sorted out if the Cheetahs are to win games going forward in the competition.
The same can be said for the hapless Kings, who again conceded a half-century against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.
This week, they face Hurricanes in Wellington and I fear more of the same for the men from Port Elizabeth.
4. Lions rue lost bonus point
The Lions were the latest team in this year’s competition to learn a harsh lesson about the new try-scoring bonus point rule.
According to the new rules, a team must score three more tries than their opponents in order to gain a try-scoring bonus point.
When the Lions scored their fourth in the 41st minute for a 31-3 lead, five points appeared a certainty.
However, the Cheetahs came back roaring with three tries of their own to deny the Lions a try-scoring bonus-point.
In the end, the Lions scored five tries – but only two more than their opponents – so had to settle for four points from the game.
I’m still not sure I like the new rule though. Surely the Lions deserved a bonus point for scoring five tries…?
5. Marius Jonker in the spotlight AGAIN!
Television Match Official Marius Jonker was again in the spotlight during the Stormers v Brumbies game at Newlands. The previous week, he had handed the Sharks a controversial penalty try and this weekend he was again involved in a contentious call.
He was right to instruct the referee to give Brumbies replacement hooker Josh Mann-Rea a red card for throwing several punches at Stormers reserve prop Oli Kebble, but the jury still appears to be out on whether Dillyn Leyds’s try in the corner should have been awarded.
Leyds appeared to lose control of the ball, but the try was awarded as on replays it appeared that Leyds’s hand was still on the ball when it touched the ground.
Retired referee Jonathan Kaplan said on his Twitter account that the try should not have been awarded, while Nick Mallett afterwards said he felt the right call was made.
“The try Dillyn Leyds scored did look like a knock-on and in the old days it would’ve been a knock-on. But I do think it was a try, as you don’t have to control the ball (while grounding it), just maintain contact with it. I don’t think there was daylight between the ball and his hand. The Stormers didn’t get the rub of the green last week with that Siya Kolisi (penalty try) call, but they got it this week,” Mallett said in the SuperSport studio after the game.