Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Round 14 of the 2018 Super Rugby competition:
1. Stormers dreadful away from home
The Stormers have performed adequately in home matches this season, winning five out of six matches.
However, away from home they have been dreadful.
Saturday’s last-gasp defeat to the Sunwolves was the Stormers’ seventh straight away loss in 2018.
And the manner in which they went down did not make for easy viewing.
It was another error-strewn performance from the Cape side, with the basics of passing and catching simply going out the back door.
The professionalism of the players and the coaching staff should be questioned.
2. A 40-match losing streak is over!
The Waratahs’ convincing 41-12 win over the Highlanders finally broke the Australian teams’ losing duck against New Zealand teams.
Remarkably, it was 40 games and 722 days since an Australian team had got the better of a Kiwi counterpart.
The Waratahs threatened the previous week, only to surrender a 29-0 lead against the Crusaders in Christchurch.
This past weekend they were not to be denied, especially after the sending off of Highlanders winger Tevita Nabura.
Nabura received his marching orders when, after catching a high ball, he booted a Waratahs player in the face.
It was the right decision and justice for the Waratahs after Joe Moody’s elbow on Kurtley Beale’s jaw went unpunished the previous week.
3. Sharks fare better against Kiwi sides
The Sharks were expected to beat the Chiefs in their clash at Kings Park on Saturday.
Due to a national camp back home, the Kiwis were stripped of all their All Blacks for the fixture, and with injuries also taken into account it meant they were without a total of 20 players.
The Sharks however made heavy weather of beating a Chiefs ‘B-team’, with their 28-24 victory characterised by a massive 24 handling errors.
On a positive note, the Sharks appear to be faring well against the New Zealand sides - they’ve beaten the Blues (63-40, Auckland), Highlanders (38-12, Durban) and were unlucky not to beat the Hurricanes (37-38, Napier).
The Sharks will rue not beating the Australian teams earlier in the season...
4. Yellow and red cards prove game changer at Ellis Park
The Brumbies looked like they may stage an upset when they led the Lions 24-21 heading into the final quarter of their match at Ellis Park.
However, when Brumbies lock Rory Arnold received a red card for a high tackle on Elton Jantjies, momentum swung in favour of the Lions.
The Lions were attacking inside the red zone when Arnold hit Jantjies late and high, deservedly receiving his marching orders.
The Lions scored soon afterwards and when Arnold’s fellow lock partner, Sam Carter, received a yellow card, the game was over as a contest with 15 playing against 13.
Arnold also received a yellow card in the first half and had it not been for his indiscretions, the men from Canberra may have staged an upset.
5. ‘Soft’ Bulls crumble in Buenos Aires
The Bulls produced arguably their worst performance of the season when they were thumped 54-24 by the ever improving Jaguares in Buenos Aires.
The Bulls appeared a step behind their determined opponents throughout and it was no wonder they were slammed by their coach John Mitchell afterwards.
Mitchell said his charges did not contest with the right attitude: “I’m disappointed in the performance in the fact that it is the first time that we have shown softness.”
It’s clear that this Bulls team is still a work in progress.
It’s also clear that the Jaguares are becoming a formidable outfit.
They recently returned from a tour to Australasia with four straight wins - over the Rebels, Brumbies, Blues and Chiefs - and currently look a good contender for the playoffs.
Bonus talking point:
There’s no doubt that the biggest talking point of the weekend occurred off the field when former Springbok Ashwin Willemse sensationally walked off a live SuperSport broadcast following an apparent disagreement with fellow analysts Nick Mallett and Naas Botha.
There was outrage on social media, with racial insults flowing from all corners.
I feel it’s best to wait for SuperSport’s official investigation to be completed - when all parties have shared their views - to give an informed opinion.