Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Round 12 of the 2017 Super Rugby competition:
1. Cheetahs’ dreadful defence
The Cheetahs’ Achilles heel - defence - continues to haunt them.
On Friday, they conceded eight tries in a 50-32 reverse to the Blues.
As always, they were good with ball in hand - especially with their execution of the driving maul - but 24 missed tackles meant they were never in with a shot at winning.
It’s simple, if you’re not organised properly on defence, you’re not going to win many matches at this level.
2. Kwagga Smith can play wing!
There weren’t many highlights in the Lions’ scrappy 13-6 win over the Brumbies in Canberra, but Kwagga Smith’s long-range effort was spectacular to watch.
With the scores level at 3-all after 53 minutes, the Brumbies were probing just outside the Lions 22, only to lose possession.
The Lions pounced on the loose ball and when it was spread to Smith, the loose forward out-sprinted the Brumbies backs in impressive fashion, running about 60m to score.
A top-class wing would have been proud of Smith’s effort and his sevens experience no doubt played a part in rounding off.
3. ‘Brain-fart’ costs Bulls victory
The Bulls were on their way to beat the Highlanders when replacement prop Pierre Schoeman barged over under the posts in the 72nd minute.
They were up against 14 men, after the Highlanders had wing Waisake Naholo sent off earlier, and a 17-10 lead would surely have sealed the deal.
However, referee Jaco van Heerden saw something out the corner of his eye and before he awarded the try he went upstairs to TMO Johan Greeff for potential foul play.
Replays showed Bulls lock RG Snyman recklessly shoulder charge a Highlanders player, leaving the officials with no other option than to dish out another red card and cancel the try.
That gave the visitors a second life and they stole the game with a brilliant solo run from centre Malakai Fekitoa a few minutes later.
I called Snyman’s indiscretion a ‘brain fart’. There was no need for it and aside from costing his side victory, it may have cost coach Nollis Marais his job as well...
4. Should Pat Lambie call it a day?
It was worrisome to see Sharks flyhalf Pat Lambie leave the field concussed during his side’s 35-32 loss to the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth.
Lambie missed the best part of 2016 due to concussion and it had cast doubt over his future in the game.
He then fractured his vertebra earlier this season and now - in only his second match back - has suffered concussion again.
There comes a time when the long-term welfare of a player should become priority and I fear Lambie must start contemplating his future in the game.
Yes, he will only turn 27 in October, but questions need to be asked whether his body can withstand the rigours of the modern game for much longer...
5. Bok call-up for Lionel Cronje?
Kings flyhalf Lionel Cronje’s star continues to shine and he was instrumental in his side’s shock win over the Sharks.
The Springbok flyhalf berth has been a big talking point in recent weeks, especially given the injury worries to Lambie and Handre Pollard.
It will be a big concern to coach Allister Coetzee that his options appear to be limited.
On form, Elton Jantjies is the best flyhalf in the country, but Jantjies’ performances at Test level left much to be desired in 2016.
Jantjies has always struggled to perform under Coetzee and I doubt he is the Bok coach’s favourite.
Cronje has his detractors, but on current form probably deserves a spot in a Springbok squad.
If the Boks are to employ an expansive game style, the skilful Kings captain may earn a call-up...