The wonderful world of sport

2016-05-04 06:00

HERE’S what makes rugby the great game it is. Just look at two of the Super Rugby results over last weekend: the Sharks in the final game of their Down Under tour against Chiefs, and the Stormers’ shock defeat at Newlands, at the hands of the Waratahs.

It was so near yet so far for the South African teams in both cases.

First up were the Sharks at the Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth. Largely it had not been a happy tour. In just 40 seconds (read that again, it’s no mistake) the Sharks were 7-0 down. Soon, though, the South Africans were able to answer with a penalty by Garth April.

However, by and large things did not get better. Soon the South Africans were trailing 10-3 and then after half-an-hour 15-3.

It was going to be one of those days – bad days for the South Africans – one feared. Yet another pasting. But no, slowly but surely the Sharks began to bite their way back.

Captain Keegan Daniel opted to kick a penalty towards the corner for a lineout rather than go for the posts, and burly Kyle Cooper scored from the lineout.

April added the extra two and suddenly the Sharks were looking a lot better, though lagging at 15-10.

Then came a great moment as April scored with neat footwork and pace that caught the Chiefs’ defence clutching at straws. And at 15-all matters seemed to be equal.

With the Sharks scoring three tries to the Chief’s two the scorecard, the scorecard at 24-22 still favoured the home side. Six minutes to play and just two points in it. A penalty would do it – but it was not to be. And in fairness, though the Sharks had crossed the try-line three times to the Chiefs’ two, the home team, all round, were just slightly the better on the day. But what a game!

Making it a double disappointment for South African opponents, the Stormers the very next day slipped to an equally disappointing 32-30 defeat.

It was generally expected the Cape team would carry the day as the more polished outfit. But largely as a result of a first half in which they simply weren’t clinical enough, it wasn’t to be.

In the end the Stormers, allowing too many opportunities to slip, had to accept that they simply weren’t good enough, indeed had only themselves to blame for this narrowest of margins of defeat.

But again, what a game! What a coincidence, too, that the very next day, after the Highlanders’ Jason Emery was red-carded for his mid-air tackle on Sharks fullback Willie le Roux, the same fate should await the Stormers’ Leolin Zas for a mid-air tackle on Waratahs flyhalf Bernard Foley.

There could be no faulting referee Mike Fraser’s decision. The player in the air always has right on his side, which was how slow-mo TV showed it to be the case.

FINALLY, just in case you’d like to know: Today (Wednesday, May 4) is 93 days to the Rio de Janiero Olympics in South America. South African stars in every sports discipline are hard at work to show what they can do.

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