Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Round 16 of the 2016 Super Rugby competition:
1. Stormers centre knocked out cold, sees yellow
This past weekend saw another incident of a player sent off for contesting a high ball.
Stormers centre Daniel du Plessis was knocked cold when he collided with the Western Force’s Marcel Brace during their clash in Perth.
Referee Mike Fraser, in conjunction with TMO Peter Marshall, opted to give Du Plessis a yellow card for his role in the incident.
Du Plessis never returned to action and will miss this weekend’s clash against the Southern Kings with concussion.
But did he really deserve a yellow card? Replays showed that he had his eyes fixed on the ball and it was therefore never his intention to hurt the opposing player. However, I guess if referees are consistent with what had transpired this season, then the right call was made.
The current laws seemingly protect the defending player and the onus is on the approaching player to not make contact when both are contesting a high ball.
But it’s time the laws are changed. The intent of a player should be taken in consideration. It is a contact sport after all!
2. Cheetahs were hard done by
The Cheetahs should feel aggrieved that they were not awarded a potentially crucial penalty try in their clash against the Sharks in Durban.
The men from Bloemfontein had the upper hand in the scrums and in one particular moment in the first half they had the Sharks on the ropes on their own goal-line.
The Cheetahs were leading 7-3 in the 24th minute when they put severe pressure on the Sharks scrum.
The Cheetahs looked set to score, but the buckling Sharks scrum kept collapsing. Sharks tighthead prop Coenie Oosthuizen, in particular, had a torrid time of things.
Despite protests from Cheetahs captain Francois Venter, referee Stuart Berry decided a penalty try was not warranted.
The Sharks emerged from that particular passage of play unscathed and went on to win 26-10.
As Nick Mallett said in the SuperSport studio: “The Cheetahs were going forward and the only reason they didn't score is because the Sharks collapsed the scrum. There was no reason to go back for another (third) penalty for the Cheetahs, it should have been a penalty try.”
A penalty try at that moment would have seen the Cheetahs take a 14-3 lead which would have completely changed the complexion of the match.
3. Australian rugby in crisis?
It’s pretty safe to say that this past weekend was a horror show from the Australian teams.
All five their teams suffered bad losses - the Brumbies were beaten 40-15 by the Blues in Auckland, the Reds were pummelled 50-5 at home by the Chiefs, the Rebels crushed 85-26 by the Crusaders in Christchurch, the Waratahs bowed 28-17 to the Hurricanes in Sydney and the Force were beaten 22-3 by the Stormers in Perth.
This was the first time all Australian sides were beaten in a Super Rugby round since 2005.
The Australian teams appear ‘light-years’ behind their New Zealand counterparts and there could even be a scenario this weekend that all Kiwi teams finish the season on more points than the Aussies.
If the Blues get five points against the Waratahs in Auckland and prevent the Sydneysiders form getting a bonus point - and the Brumbies are soundly beaten by the Force - then all five Kiwi teams would have more log points than their trans-Tasman rivals.
After the Wallabies’ recent 3-0 home Test series defeat to England, all is not well for the men from down under...
4. Lions should not rest key players
Yes, the Jaguares have struggled this season, but I feel Lions coach Johan Ackermann must opt against resting a few of his star players for their final league game of the season in Buenos Aires.
The Lions struggled in the first half of their match against the Kings last Friday and must leave nothing to chance this weekend.
The Lions are currently top of the overall log - one ahead of the Chiefs - and a solid win over the Jaguares would see them top the overall standings.
This is important as it would mean potential home final should they get there.
Ackermann should now bank on his best players and it would also give them continuity heading into the playoffs.
5. Elation and despair for Bulls
There was elation in Pretoria on Saturday night after the Bulls thumped the Sunwolves 50-3. However, Bulls fans’ joy was short-lived after the Sharks beat the Cheetahs in Durban in the late game.
Their win over the Cheetahs took the Durbanites to 39 log points and in into the final playoff qualifier position in the South African Group - ahead of the Bulls on 37.
Bad news for Bulls fans though is that it’s likely to remain that way after this weekend’s final round of group phase action.
The Sharks host the lowly Sunwolves in Durban, while the Bulls have to travel to Bloemfontein to duel the Cheetahs.
One just cannot see the Sharks slipping up against the hapless Japanese team.
The Bulls will be happy with their seven-try romp on Saturday, and Jesse Kriel’s performance from the fullback position was the standout for this writer. It’s his best position and he should opt to stay there.
However, the men from Pretoria will look back at a season and be disappointed to have missed out on a playoffs spot yet again. They’ll have to up their game away from home if they are to mount future challenges in the competition...