Emery banned for dangerous tackle

2016-04-28 06:00
PHOTO: gallo images Springbok Michael Claassens will start at scrumhalf for the Sharks in place of injured Cobus Reinach. sharks

PHOTO: gallo images Springbok Michael Claassens will start at scrumhalf for the Sharks in place of injured Cobus Reinach. sharks

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HIGHLANDERS centre Jason Emery on Monday copped a four-week ban for his dangerous tackle on Sharks fullback Willie le Roux early in the weekend’s Super Rugby game at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

Emery clattered into Le Roux as the fullback took to the air in attempting to gather a high kick and the Highlanders player was red-carded by New Zealand referee Ben O’Keefe.

Emery faced a Sanzar judicial hearing this week and was found guilty of playing an opponent in the air.

The hearing was held via video conference and heard by a judicial committee of Jannie Lubbe SC (chairperson), De Wet Barry and John Langford.

The committee ruled that the offence was a mid-range offence which carries a six-week suspension.

“The committee took into account as mitigating factors the player’s exemplary clean disciplinary record after 70 first-class matches, his apology in person to Willie le Roux immediately after the match and on social media, his guilty plea and the fact that the tackle was reckless rather than deliberate.

“The player was therefore given a two-week discount on the recommended sanction of six weeks.”

Emery is suspended until May 21.

News from the Sharks camp is that while the injury toll is continuing to mount, head coach Gary Gold is more concerned about his team’s lack of tries than any fitness concerns ahead of Friday’s final New Zealand tour game against the log-leading Chiefs at the Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth.

First-choice scrumhalf Cobus Reinach (knee) and number eight Philip van der Walt (neck) picked up injuries in the 15-14 win over the Highlanders and have returned home. Scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer and lock Giant Mtyanda have been rushed to New Zealand as replacements.

Michael Claassens will take over from Reinach at the base of the scrum against the Chiefs with Ungerer providing cover off the bench while Mtyanda, a specialist lock, is unlikely to be included in the match day squad of 23 unless one of the three locks, Stephan Lewies, Etienne Oosthuizen or Hyron Andrews, goes down with an injury this week.

Gold has options in replacing Van der Walt who has been one of the Sharks’ most impressive performers this season in spite of a series of injuries. Experienced Sharks flank Jean Deysel made a powerful impact when he replaced Van der Walt against the Highlanders but Gold could recall the young Daniel du Preez who was unfit for the Dunedin game.

But Gold, in praising his players for their character and courage in holding on to beat the champions, voiced his concerns about the Sharks’ try-scoring record after flyhalf Garth April kicked five penalties to seal their Highlanders win.

The Sharks, after eight games, are joint last (with the Southern Kings) on South Africa’s try-scoring list. The Cheetahs (32) are at the top followed by the Lions (30), the Bulls (24), Stormers (22) and the Kings and Sharks (both 14).

Reflecting on the win over the Highlanders, Gold said the Sharks “had scrapped it out and got there in the end”. “We know that it was not pretty and that try-scoring remains a problem. But we are not going to apologise for how we won. We take on board that we have to start scoring tries but in the meantime, if we can win in New Zealand through courage and determination, we will take that.”

Gold said that with “the right attitude in place, the rest will follow.”

“I’m quite relieved to have come away from Dunedin with a victory in a very hard-fought game. We knew it was always going to be very difficult, playing against the current champions. There was added pressure with the fact that they were coming off a loss to the Reds a couple of weeks before and they definitely identified us as a team they should get an easy victory against.

“We’re disappointed not to have scored tries and it is something we are going to work on. There was a lot of intent shown and some fantastic phases put together. Our confidence is getting there.”

Gold said the Sharks would now be up against the form team in Super Rugby on Friday.

“The Chiefs had a fine win over the Hurricanes in what was one of the best games of Super Rugby we have seen this year. The match was played at a very high level and it has reminded us of how difficult it will be to beat the Chiefs given the way we are currently playing. The Chiefs are the best team in New Zealand and we are a long way from the finished product. Everybody knows that. But it is much easier to work on things you know you need to fix when you have the foundation of a win. The guys just cannot wait to get cracking on the training field so that we can give ourselves the best possible shot of winning the match.”

Friday’s match kicks off at 9.35 am (SA time).


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