Cape Town - Sport24 highlights 5 talking points after Round 16's action of Super Rugby:
1. Another red card at Kings Park
There was another nasty incident in Friday night’s match between the Sharks and Rebels at Kings Park which saw Rebels prop Laurie Weeks red carded for throwing punches at counterpart Jannie du Plessis.
It was the fourth red card in a Super Rugby game at Kings Park this season, following the earlier indiscretions of Bismarck du Plessis and the Chiefs' Hika Elliot.
Du Plessis had provoked Weeks with a slap to the head, which also saw the Springbok prop receive a yellow card.
It was no doubt the right decision made by referee Jaco van Heerden to send Weeks off - the law states that a player cannot retaliate, especially not with a flurry of punches as Weeks did.
Weeks deserved to see red and Du Plessis deserved yellow, but the intentions of the Sharks prop need to be questioned.
The examples he and his brother are setting are not that of role models...
2. Spies or Whiteley for Boks?
Who would you pick as Duane Vermeulen’s back-up for the Springbok No 8 position? I would definitely opt for the ever-improving Lions skipper Warren Whiteley ahead of the Bulls' Pierre Spies.
It is no secret that Spies is a favourite of Bok coach Heyneke Meyer and the Bulls captain is likely to return to the Springbok fold this year following injury layoffs in recent years.
However, Spies’ recent performances do not warrant him a spot in the Springbok team. Spies again underperformed in the Bulls’ loss to the Brumbies in Canberra and copped heavy criticism from pundits afterwards.
Wallaby wing icon David Campese noted in the SuperSport studio after the game: “No 8 was non-existent today... you don’t see him. He is not dominant.”
Whiteley, on the other hand, continues to impress and he was instrumental in his side’s 27-22 win over the Waratahs in Johannesburg on Saturday night. He is by far the competition’s top tackler (217) and adds a dimension on attack.
3. Pick Senatla for Boks
Blitzboks star Seabelo Senatla has impressed for the Stormers over the last two weeks since making his return from the seven-man code.
He scored two tries in Saturday’s 42-12 demolition of the Cheetahs and seemed to fit back seamlessly into their structures.
He was impressive for Western Province in last year’s Currie Cup and perhaps already should have played for the Springboks on their year-end tour late last year.
It’s no secret that SARU wants more ethnic black African players to feature for the Boks. Here’s a guy who can actually make the squad on merit, so pick him. It’s not often you get a wing that can swerve in a similar manner to the great Carel du Plessis...
4. Jantjies regaining form, confidence
Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies is fast regaining the form that saw him become a Springbok in 2012. He has now established himself as the top flyhalf ahead of Marnitz Boshoff at the Lions and played an instrumental role on attack in Saturday’s win over the Waratahs.
No wonder Nick Mallett noted the following in the SuperSport studio afterwards:
“So many players play well around him because he puts them into gaps. The pass to Ruan Combrinck when he made the break down field was a beautifully delayed pass by Jantjies.
“He takes it to the line before he passes and gives momentum to his backline. We don't like skip passes but the pass to Combrinck (for the Lions' opening try) was a wonderful one. He plays little inside balls, he plays run-arounds and his defence has improved incredibly.
“He's justifiably right in the running for a World Cup spot. He really has been playing fantastic rugby and is arguably the form flyhalf in South Africa at the moment.”
With Handre Pollard struggling in the last while, and Pat Lambie injured, Jantjies is knocking hard on the Bok door.
He has to improve his goal-kicking though. He missed three kicks in the last quarter which would have put the Waratahs away and that’s something you can’t afford in a crunch game at the World Cup.
5. Catrakilis vital to Stormers’ cause
He may not pose the same attacking threat as Jantjies, but Stormers flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis remains vital to the Cape side's cause.
Catrakilis is arguably the best goal-kicker in the competition this season and at one stage had slotted 27 of 27 kicks at goal!
He was again successful with seven out of seven kicks in their 42-12 win over the Cheetahs at Newlands this past weekend.
The Stormers would be in big trouble if Catrakilis was to get injured now, as his replacement - Kurt Coleman - is struggling for confidence when kicking for goal.
Coleman missed his only conversion attempt when he came on late in Saturday’s game and we all remember his horror-show in Bloemfontein a few weeks ago - a result that will in likelihood come back to bite the Capetonians come season's end...