Lood v Eben: Clash of the titans

    2016-05-30 08:00

    Lloyd Burnard - Newlands

    Cape Town - Saturday's Super Rugby clash between the Stormers and the Cheetahs in Cape Town could not have been more closely contested.

    The hosts emerged 31-24 victors to get their season back on track, but they certainly didn't have it all their own way and the Cheetahs gave as good as they got throughout the 80 minutes. 

    Leolin Zas's interception led to a decisive Stormers try, but he had he not reached the ball the Cheetahs would surely have scored in the corner and the result may have made for very different reading. 

    There was one moment that perfectly represented just how close the contest was, and it had very little to do with rugby. 

    On the half hour mark, an off-the-ball scuffle between Springbok locks Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager brought play to an abrupt halt.

    Etzebeth (6 ft 8 in) and De Jager (6 ft 9 in) grappled, wrestled and eventually fell to the turf as Newlands momentarily turned into the Colosseum, with the towering tight forwards taking on the form of gladiators. 

    Fortunately for both sides, referee Glen Jackson didn't dish out any punishment after having consulted with the TMO, and the two units dusted themselves off and carried on with business.

    "When Glen (Jackson) called me over there I saw two big men standing there, so I'm glad I wasn't in between them," Cheetahs captain Francois Venter said.

    "There's always personal fight ... everyone wants that Bok jersey for himself so I think that's a massive battle.

    "Lood actually owed him (Etzebeth) one from the previous game in Bloemfontein. I think Eben got the better of him there, but I'm proud of Lood. He picked up his game and his presence was felt on the field again.

    "It's always great seeing them play against each other and they are a huge clash."

    Stormers captain Frans Malherbe said that the physical niggle in the game was likely the result of frustration from both sides, but he did not thing it had much of an impact on how the rest of the match panned out.

    "You can't really take momentum out of off the ball stuff like that," said Malherbe.

    "Luckily it didn't get too serious. You don't want one of those guys getting cited now ahead of the break and the internationals."

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