Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Round 13 of the 2016 Super Rugby competition:
1. Lineout, scrum woes for Stormers
The Stormers dominated possession during their 17-13 loss to the Bulls in Pretoria, but their set pieces let them down badly.
The Cape side lost a few lineouts at crucial junctures, with Bulls lock RG Snyman - a 2.06m beanpole - proving a menace and at the same time doing his Bok credentials no harm.
The Stormers’ scrum was also in disarray in a game characterised by several re-sets. It was clear that loosehead prop Oli Kebble was the problem and how coach Robbie Fleck kept him on for so long remains a mystery.
The Stormers clearly missed the injured JC Janse van Rensburg and will do so for the next three months as he recovers from a knee injury.
2. Bulls rebuilding home fortress
Following their win over their arch-rivals, the Bulls remain the only unbeaten team at home in this year’s competition.
And they are heading in the right direction at making Loftus Versfeld the fortress of old again.
Following two disappointing losses on tour, many had tipped them to slip up against the Stormers.
Purely because the Stormers were so poor against the Sunwolves the previous week, I had picked the Bulls to win by three and they did not let my prediction down.
The Bulls are still a team in transition, beginning to evolve their way of playing, but they’re on the right track and may end the season unbeaten at home.
3. Scrumhalf crisis in the Cape?
After Nick Mallett again brought up the idea, Stormers coach Robbie Fleck was quick to emphasise last week that Cheslin Kolbe will not be trialed at scrumhalf.
But Saturday night was another example of how the Stormers could do with a player like Kolbe in the No 9 jumper.
The Stormers simply lack any attacking prowess from the base of the scrum and the tactical game of Nic Groom was again well below par. His kicking from the base remains suspect and his decision making even more so. I was left dumbfounded when he simply kicked away possession when the Stormers were on attack inside the Bulls’ 22m area.
Unfortunately for the Stormers, Jano Vermaak's purchase has not paid off as he has been struggling with injuries, while Groom’s deputy, Louis Schreuder, has proved to be no improvement when he gets game time.
It is not surprising that none of the Stormers scrumhalves are mentioned in conversations about possible Springbok No 9 selection and if the Capetonians are not going to give Kolbe a chance, then perhaps they should give some of the younger players in the region an opportunity.
4. Lions players show Bok credentials
The Lions were again impressive in their 52-24 demolition of the Jaguares at the weekend and several of their players deserve inclusion when Allister Coetzee names his Springbok squad for the Ireland series on Saturday.
Lionel Mapoe is the best centre in the country at the moment and others who I feel deserve a spot in the Bok squad are Ruan Combrinck, Elton Jantjies, Faf de Klerk, Warren Whiteley, Jaco Kriel, Julian Redelinghuys and Armand ‘Akker’ van der Merwe.
5. Lambie back with a bang
Pat Lambie produced another stellar performance for the Sharks at the weekend and has seemingly slotted in seamlessly since his return from a shoulder injury.
He has now played two and a half games and has shown no signs of rustiness - something Bok coach Allister Coetzee would have taken note of.
It’s no wonder Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold heaped praise on his captain after Saturday's game, saying:
"I think we’ve got short memories. Everyone was raving about Garth (April) when he was playing when Patrick was injured.
“Obviously Pat makes a big difference but we know that we’ve been trying to over-complicate things in the past as well.
"When we take the simple options that are available to us then we can look good and score the tries that we did score.
"Pat obviously did make a huge difference to us. There is no getting away from the fact that he’s a 50-Test world class rugby player and our captain. His loss was a big blow to us at the time and it’s wonderful to have him back."