Cape Town - Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Round 8 of the 2017 Super Rugby competition:
1. Lions the best team in SA
The Stormers were the talk of the town when they stunned the Chiefs at Newlands, but they were humbled on Saturday, with the Lions claiming their first ever Super Rugby win at Newlands.
Nick Mallett was right when he said the Lions had “bullied” the Stormers. The Lions showed that they can employ a different type of game style, instead of their normal free-flowing approach, and they tactically outfoxed their hosts.
The Lions won this game on a staunch defensive effort and pounced when their opportunities came, so much so that they claimed a bonus-point win.
The men from Johannesburg showed their resilience early in the second half when they held off the Stormers for 13 minutes in the red zone.
Coach Johan Ackermann proved his tactical nous with this performance and his departure later this year to Gloucester in England will be dearly felt.
2. Controversial TMO call
There was a critical moment late in the first half of the game at Newlands when Lions flank Jaco Kriel was awarded a controversial try.
Referee Jaco Peyper referred the decision upstairs to television match official Shaun Veldsman, saying he saw "no clear grounding".
Replays indicated no clear grounding on the line, but somehow Veldsman came to the conclusion that he saw "compelling evidence" of a grounding and instructed Peyper to award the try.
Unless Veldsman was looking at a screen other to what we all saw on our TV screens, there was no clear - let alone compelling - evidence of a grounding.
The score gave the Lions a handy 22-13 advantage at the break.
This is not the first time Veldsman has made a controversial decision and I’m willing to bet it won’t be the last...
3. Lack of consistency from referees?
In the 25th minute of the game at Newlands, Kriel was sent to the sin-bin for making contact with the head area of Stormers flyhalf Robert du Preez. It was also a late hit and by the letter of the law, deserved a yellow card.
However, just before half-time, Stormers flank Nizaam Carr also made contact with the head area of Lions fullback Andries Coetzee.
This time, Peyper only awarded a penalty against the Stormers.
The Carr incident was in my book not as severe as the Kriel one, but perhaps still warranted a yellow card.
Nick Mallett, speaking in the SuperSport studio afterwards, was even more convinced, saying: “Nizaam Carr comes into a tackle with no arms and uses his shoulder, which makes contact to the head of Andries Coetzee. In my view, that tackle is as dangerous as Kriel’s. It would have been fair if he spent 10 minutes in the sin bin. There is no consistency.”
There appears to be a lack of consistency in the way referees are officiating the high tackle rule this season.
4. Cheetahs run out of puff
The Cheetahs raced to a 24-0 lead in as many minutes in their encounter against the Chiefs in Bloemfontein, only to end up losing 41-27.
The Cheetahs did a lot of things right, bossing the Chiefs physically and scoring some spectacular tries.
However, it was almost inevitable - and no surprise - to see the Chiefs hit back and claim a comfortable win.
There are just too many flaws in the Cheetahs armoury and they lack the depth to compete at this level.
5. Home comforts for Bulls
Following their win over the Jaguares, the Bulls can take comfort that they are unbeaten at their Loftus Versfeld home.
The Bulls stood up physically against the Argentines and this may just be the catalyst for them to get their season back on track.
They should beat the hapless Cheetahs at home this coming weekend - which will make them feel good heading into a bye weekend, before two home clashes against the Crusaders (May 6) and Highlanders (May 13) certain to prove a real test.
Only 5 847 fans turned up on Saturday night against the Jaguares and the Bulls will have to improve markedly for that figure to rise...