Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Round 10 of the 2016 Super Rugby competition:
1. Stormers wing sees red
Stormers wing Leolin Zas’ red card in the second half of their clash against the Waratahs was no doubt the biggest talking point of the weekend’s action.
Zas was sent off after taking out Waratahs flyhalf Bernard Foley while the latter was air-borne catching a high ball. Replays showed Zas had slipped just before he made contact with Foley and it appears the referee, Mike Fraser, was technically correct in dishing out a red card.
Nick Mallett had this to say in the SuperSport studio afterwards:
“The law is very clear - the player who jumps higher in the air has all the rights – so Foley had all the rights. The fact that Leolin Zas slipped is completely irrelevant. We were perfectly happy when the referee made that decision to red-card Jason Emery for taking out Willie le Roux and everyone said how well the referee had handled that situation. In my opinion, (referee) Mike Fraser handled this situation exactly the same. I feel sorry for Zas, as he did slip, but he is not jumping in the air and then takes the feet out from underneath the player which opened up the possibility of getting a card. There was no intent, but a referee can’t rule on intent, he referees on fact. The crowd can boo as much as they like, unfortunately Fraser was correct.”
According to Mallett, intent plays no part and a red card was therefore the only option for the referee.
However, according to retired referee, Jonathan Kaplan, intent should be taken into consideration.
Kaplan expressed his views via Twitter after the game:
It’s again clear that the rule is a bit ambiguous and in my opinion, the intent of the player should be taken into consideration.
Surely Zas had no intention of hurting Foley and if red cards are going to be dished out like that, then it’s simply not worth contesting for a high ball anymore...
2. Tough call on Cheetahs
The Cheetahs fell flat in the second half of their match against the Reds and did not deserve to win the contest.
But I feel a critical call went against them in the final stages which cost them a losing bonus point at best.
Trailing 30-17 late in the game, Cheetahs fullback Clayton Blommetjies scored in the corner but referee Ben O’Keeffe wanted to check for possible foul play in the lead-up to the try.
Replays showed Cheetahs loose forward Willie Britz being held back on the ground by Reds lock Rob Simmons. Britz tried to free himself and in the process ‘struck’ Simmons, but hardly did so in any malicious manner.
The TMO, George Ayoub, tried to convince the referee that it wasn’t a punch and there was not much in it, but O’Keeffe wanted nothing of it and sent Britz to the sin-bin and cancelled the try.
I felt it was harsh as Britz merely tried to free himself and even the Aussie commentators agreed that it was a tough call on the Cheetahs.
3. Lions outfoxed at home
There was much anticipation before the Lions’ clash against the Hurricanes and I had even tipped the men from Johannesburg to sneak a win.
However, they were tactically outfoxed by the Kiwi side in a seven-try romp.
The Hurricanes very effectively used the tactic of pressing on defence and every time a Lions carrier had the ball they were under pressure, which resulted in two intercept tries.
While the ‘Canes made a mammoth 134 tackles, compared to 67 by the Lions, they were ruthless in their execution.
They also won the contest on the ground, with 14 turnovers proving vital as they pounced on errors made by their hosts.
There were many who criticised the performance of referee Marius van der Westhuizen, but it’s hard to blame an official when you concede 50 points.
The Lions buckled under a different kind of pressure and Saturday’s clash showed that they are still a work in progress.
4. Bulls break Australasian duck
The Bulls’ clinical 42-20 win over the Force in Perth on Friday ended an 11-match losing run in Australasia.
The men from Pretoria have now won five games on the trot and are just one point behind the Stormers in Africa Conference 1, with a game in hand.
But it’s the manner in which Nollis Marais’ charges are playing which should be alarming for their competitors.
They are seemingly finding the right balance regarding their new game plan, which includes a more expansive style, while still maintaining the foundations of dominating opponents physically up front.
The Bulls still face the Brumbies and Waratahs on tour and don’t be surprised if they add more wins before returning home.
Their home clash against the Stormers on May 21 will likely be the deciding fixture in the conference.
5. April a rising star for Sharks
They Sharks may have gone down 24-22 to the Chiefs in New Plymouth, but their performance was encouraging and showed more willingness to attack.
I felt their flyhalf, Garth April, was the standout player.
He scored a great individual try where he completely mesmerised several Chiefs defenders and it’s pleasing to see a flyhalf in South African rugby that can kick well and also attack the gainline in equal measure.
It’s hard to believe that this time last year, April was still playing club rugby for Durbanville-Bellville in the Community Cup.
He then played briefly for Western Province in the Vodacom Cup, before the Sharks snapped up his services.
He is indeed a prospect for the future.