Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Round 5 of the 2018 Super Rugby competition:
1. A rugby game is 80 minutes long!
For two weeks in a row the Bulls have failed to trouble the scorers in the second half.
In Brisbane earlier this month, a 14-3 first half lead against the Reds turned into a 20-14 defeat, while this past weekend the Bulls led the Chiefs 28-14 at the break in Hamilton, only to succumb 41-28.
The Bulls are showing plenty of promise and scoring some scintillating tries, but at this level they’ll have to keep it up for a full 80 minutes.
“The Bulls are on the right track” is what everyone is screaming, but the obvious lapses in concentration and composure when it matters most should not be overlooked.
2. Bulls prop deserved to see red
In my opinion, Bulls replacement prop Conraad van Vuuren deserved to see red late in the second half of his side’s defeat against the Chiefs.
Van Vuuren received a yellow card in the 68th minute for what appeared a horrendous "tackle" on Chiefs fullback Damian McKenzie.
Van Vuuren’s attempted tackle was late, high and he went in with a stiff, swinging arm.
Luckily for McKenzie he managed to duck and partially evade what could have been a severe injury.
Despite McKenzie's efforts to duck, replays showed Van Vuuren’s arm making contact with the All Black's head.
A red card should have been the order of the day and it was no surprise to see Van Vuuren banned for three weeks on Monday.
Television match official (TMO) Shane McDermott and referee Shuhei Kubo should also be asked to explain how they came to the conclusion that the incident only warranted a yellow card.
(Photo credit: AFP)
3. Stormers surprise friend and foe
Not many gave the Stormers a chance ahead of their showdown against the Blues at Newlands.
They had just returned from an arduous tour to Australasia where they lost all three games, while their opponents were buoyed having upset the Lions at Ellis Park the previous week.
Several Stormers players were also laid low by flu in the week leading up to the game - with captain Siya Kolisi confirming that most of the players only had a captain’s run late in the week as preparation.
But the Stormers came out guns blazing as they blew the Blues off the park, especially in the first half. The hosts dominated the contact situations and overpowered their opponents physically to earn a 37-20 win.
Young flyhalf Damian Willemse produced a composed performance which deservedly saw him receive the man-of-the-match accolade.
Willemse proved a constant threat with ball in hand, while he also impressed with a flawless goal-kicking performance that included converting all four tries and adding three penalties for a 17-point contribution.
4. Sharks in disarray
Last week, I talked up the Sharks’ tour prospects as they prepared to face what appeared a pretty ordinary Brumbies outfit.
I tipped the Sharks to win two of four games on tour but that prospect now appears a long shot with games against the Rebels, Blues and Hurricanes lying in wait.
Certainly, if the Sharks dish up what they did in Canberra then they’ll return home winless with their season in ruins.
The Sharks scrum put them on the back foot again on Saturday - they lost three scrums - with the experiment of moving Thomas du Toit to tighthead yet to reap rewards.
Discipline is also an issue for the Durbanites as the 14 penalties (sanzarrugby.com) conceded in Canberra proved costly.
5. Lessons not learnt by Lions
During their narrow 40-38 win over the Sunwolves at Ellis Park, the Lions did not appear to learn lessons from their loss to the Blues the previous week.
The Lions’ strategy of employing a fast paced and loose approach played right into the hands of the Sunwolves, who flourish in open play and off turnovers.
It was this approach which saw the Lions allow the Blues back into the contest, despite appearing down and out at 28-10 down in the second half.
On Saturday, the men from Johannesburg breathed a big sigh of relief because a loss to the Sunwolves would have been inexcusable.
It’s however clear that the Lions are lacking the composed leadership of injured stalwarts Warren Whiteley and Jaco Kriel.
I’m not saying the Lions should adopt a risk-free conservative approach at all times, but playing the right type of rugby when the situation demands remains vital.