Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Round 3 of the 2017 Super Rugby competition:
1. Cheetahs’ depth exposed
The Cheetahs’ stuttering 38-31 home win over the lowly Sunwolves was perhaps an indication that their depth is not enough to carry them through the Super Rugby competition.
The Cheetahs’ impressive win over the Bulls in Week 2 came at a cost, as several key players were injured.
Lock Reniel Hugo suffered a season-ending knee injury, while flank Uzair Cassiem and prop Ox Nche are also sidelined for a few weeks due to knee injuries.
Centre Nico Lee is also crocked with a shoulder injury - which saw Rayno Benjamin move from wing into midfield for the clash against the Sunwolves.
It saw coach Franco Smith pick Zee Mkhabela, normally a scrumhalf, on the wing.
Smith’s gamble immediately proved costly as the Sunwolves’ first try after barely a minute’s action was a direct result of Mkhabela missing a straight-forward tackle.
The SuperSport commentators noted that, with a scrumhalf on the wing, the Cheetahs would be looking to play the game at a high tempo.
Perhaps that intended tempo was too high, as the Cheetahs were not direct enough in their approach.
You have to earn the right to go wide first and they ended up playing into the Sunwolves’ hands.
The forced changes to the Cheetahs seemingly made a big difference and perhaps proved that they will struggle with too many injuries.
Failure to bag a try-scoring bonus point against the Sunwolves at home is a point lost.
2. Elstadt worry for Stormers
A big talking point in the Kings-Stormers game in Port Elizabeth was the incident midway through the first half when the Cape side’s flank Rynhardt Elstadt was involved in an altercation.
Elstadt got into a scuffle with Kings No 8 Ruan Lerm and after Japanese referee Shuhei Kubo took a look at the incident on the big screen, he decided no card was warranted.
Replays showed Elstadt’s fists make contact with his opponent’s face and the man from Montagu was perhaps lucky not to have copped at least a yellow card.
The commentators and several pundits were of the view that Elstadt should have seen at least yellow.
This is not the first time I’ve written about Elstadt’s discipline and probably won’t be the last.
It’s simple. He needs to work on his temper - he’ll get sent off for similar transgressions in bigger games and it will cost his team dearly.
3. Cloete reminds Stormers of what they’re lacking
Kings flank Chris Cloete proved a menace at the breakdown for the Stormers, turning over and slowing down the Cape side’s possession on several occasions.
Cloete was formerly on Western Province’s books and the top brass at the union will wonder how they let him go, especially as the Stormers at present do not boast an out-and-out fetcher among their ranks.
It will be tough later in the season for the Stormers when they face the New Zealand teams.
4. Curwin Bosch on song for the Sharks
I did live updates on Saturday night’s match between the Sharks and Waratahs and was a little surprised when Sharks flank Jean-Luc du Preez received the man-of-the-match award.
It was a decent game from Du Preez - as was the case for all the Sharks forwards - but replacement flyhalf Curwin Bosch was my man-of-the-match.
Bosch, who stepped into the injured Pat Lambie's position with aplomb, showed again why he is a player for the future, scoring 27 points including a try.
His goal-kicking looks sound and he showed that he has X-factor on attack.
Bosch has mainly played fullback in the last year or so, but showed no signs of rustiness in the flyhalf channel.
5. Lions’ second-string plan backfires - again!
It was déjà vu for the Lions as they lost 36-24 to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires.
Last year, the Lions lost their final league game over there by an almost identical scoreline (34-22).
On both occasions, coach Johan Ackermann chose to leave several of his frontline players at home.
Last year, it cost the Lions a home final - and likely the title.
Let’s hope it won’t prove as costly in 2017.
The make-shift team was thoroughly outplayed on Saturday night and the scoreline flattered the Lions after two late tries.
The Jaguares will prove tough customers at home this season.