Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Round 1 of the 2018 Super Rugby competition:
1. Discipline issues at Newlands
It was no surprise when the season’s first yellow card went to a Jaguares player - fullback Joaquin Tuculet was sent to the sin-bin in the 26th minute of his side’s clash against the Stormers at Newlands.
The Argentine side’s discipline has left much to be desired since their introduction into the tournament in 2016 and the happenings at Newlands on Saturday suggested that not much will change this season.
The Stormers were themselves guilty of giving away silly penalties and hooker Ramone Samuels’ 64th minute yellow card almost cost them the game.
Overall, the Stormers conceded 13 penalties and the Jaguares 15, but what will be alarming to both coaches is the fact that several of these penalties were conceded near the respective trylines.
2. Is it ‘unfair’ to take a quick tap?
There was an interesting scenario early in the second half of the Stormers v Jaguares clash.
The Stormers were hot on the attack in the red zone and had a penalty advantage which went on for several phases.
They couldn’t force their way through, but referee Jaco Peyper played a long advantage which saw Stormers flyhalf Damian Willemse sprint towards the mark to take a quick tap.
However, the Stormers pivot was told by Peyper that he wasn’t allowed to take a quick tap because it would be “unfair”.
I was a bit puzzled as I’ve never heard a referee make such a call on a rugby field before, with SuperSport commentator Jean de Villiers at the time also questioning the call.
We’ve often witnessed referees stop players from taking quick taps if a player is not on the right spot - or if too much time has elapsed - but in this scenario Willemse was imminent with his intention.
I brought up the matter with retired referee Jonathan Kaplan, who said he “was not aware” of such a ruling.
It wasn’t a massive call in the outcome of the match, but nevertheless worth mentioning.
Overall, Peyper had a good game and he was spot on when he penalised Stormers reserve scrumhalf Justin Phillips who had retaliated after being shoved by a Jaguares player.
According to the laws, the retaliated player ends up the guilty party.
3. Scrum woes for Sharks
The foundation for the Lions’ 26-19 victory over the Sharks at Ellis Park was built on their domination at scrum time.
From the get go, the Sharks scrum was under pressure and in the end they lost no fewer than six of their own scrums.
The Sharks’ problems during last year’s Currie Cup final against Western Province also started at scrum time and it’s clear they have lots to work on in this department.
Sharks props Juan Schoeman and Thomas du Toit were replaced by Tendai Mtawarira and John-Hubert Meyer at half-time and the substitutions proved to somewhat stabilise the Sharks scrum.
The Lions even conceded two scrum penalties of their own in the second period but overall still had the upper hand in this department.
From a Sharks point of view, it’s clear that Du Toit is still battling making the transition from loosehead to tighthead.
4. New find on the wing for Lions
Lions left wing Aphiwe Dyantyi, who scored a spectacular solo try on debut, was named man-of-the-match for his efforts.
He stepped up to the plate after injuries to Ruan Combrinck and Courtnall Skosan.
Dyantyi’s moment of brilliance in the 22nd minute, when he produced a strong run down the touchline before gathering his own grubber kick to score in the corner, will be a contender for try of the season.
It was remarkable to learn that Dyantyi had given up rugby for a while after being told he was too small at school.
But while at the University of Johannesburg he started playing hostel rugby again before being drafted into UJ’s Varsity Cup team, where he caught the eye of the Lions selectors.
5. Intriguing flyhalf battle
Sharks flyhalf Robert du Preez was a prominent figure throughout for the visitors. The big flyhalf’s willingness to take the ball on the gain line will get his team on the front foot more often than not - as was evident when he burst through the Lions defence for the game’s opening try.
Du Preez’s opposite number, Elton Jantjies, also marshalled the game well for most parts but both players will rue missing vital kicks at goal.
Jantjies, especially, lost his range completely in the second half. He missed a relatively easy conversion in the second half which would have stretched his team’s lead to 28-19. Then, in the 65th minute, I was surprised when Jantjies’ long-range effort from just inside the Sharks half did not have the legs.
Normally at altitude this distance would not prove a problem and when Jantjies missed a sitter in front of the posts in the 73rd minute it was clear he had lost his confidence.
What should have been a relatively comfortable win for the Lions, forced them to hang on for dear life at the end.
I’d say Du Preez just about edged the battle with Jantjies...