Young April celebrates his month

2016-04-27 06:00

REMEMBER the song, “April Showers”? Five of them were transferred to the rugby field last weekend in the form of penalties from the same young man, Garth April, who you might aptly say was honouring the month of his birth.

There was much more, however, than that coincidence to a see-sawing Super Rugby match that the Sharks, hanging on for dear life, just managed to pull out of the bag against Dunedin’s Highlanders 15-14, yes, just a single solitary point!

In the background the 80-minute drama was filled with all sorts of other incidents. As early as the 12th minute scrumhalf Kobus Reinach was stretchered off with a serious knee injury and subsequently flown home – this a portent of still worse to come.

Next up in this sporting drama was a dangerous mid-air collision tackle by Highlanders centre, Jason Emery, on Sharks’ fullback, Willie le Roux. No doubt it was not intentional, but a slow-motion replay from the TMO’s box clearly showed that, though unintentional, Emery was guilty of an over-eager midair clash as the two players met in mid-air collision that saw the Sharks’ fullback upended with the frightening consequence of landing on the point where the back of Le Roux’s head and neck meet.

Miraculously, after being led off the field looking extremely shaky he was able to return and play all but the final ten minutes of the match.

The incident could not have been intentional on the New Zealander’s part. But referee, Ben O’Keefe, had no option – more or less at the TMO’s insistence – to red-card the Highlanders centre. Nor did the drama end there. As late as the 79th minute Highlanders’ flyhalf, Lima Sopoaga, was just wide with a drop-goal attempt that missed by little more than a hand’s breadth.

A weekend that had started in this dramatic fashion continued with the best match that saw Stormers at Newlands take control in the second half against the Reds eventually to win handsomely 40-22 in by far the best match of the weekend. Stormers took a while to settle down but in a second half that scored full marks with Nick Mallett in the commentators’ box, the former Springbok coach gave the home side a bouquet for the manner in which they turned up the heat with some fine rugby in both attack and defence. “A great game!”

Finally with the Ireland short tour not that far off, flyhalf Elton Jantjies was back to his best in guiding the Lions to a 45-10 walkover against PE’s Southern Kings, who, try as they might, are – at this moment anyway – out of their depth in Super Rugby. In this sort of form Jantjies must surely rank head and shoulders above any other contender for the Springboks flyhalf berth.

Indeed, such is the understanding between this nippy backline director and pint-sized Faf de Klerk that a halfback pairing between these two with the Boks might well be on the cards. Really, why not ? Remember Gentles and Ulyate? Watch Lions wing Ruan Combrink as well; he’s right up there with them.

A weekend of ups and downs, of unpredictability? No argument about that. It was what makes rugby the great game it is!


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