Super Rugby

5 talking points: Super Rugby Week 10

Toni Pulu of the Brumbies high- tackles Herschel Jantjies of the Stormers (Gallo Images)
Toni Pulu of the Brumbies high- tackles Herschel Jantjies of the Stormers (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Sport24's Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Week 10 of the 2019 Super Rugby competition: 

1. Lions win against the odds

Before their clash against the Chiefs in Hamilton, the Lions' preparation was disrupted by coach Swys de Bruin flying home due to personal reasons and assistant coach Joey Mongalo also returning to South Africa after being found guilty of indecent assault.

Given the fact that the Lions had suffered bad losses to the Sharks and Brumbies, it would have taken a brave man to bet on them upending the Chiefs away from home.

But they proved their mettle with their backs to the wall, with the return of captain Warren Whiteley no doubt proving vital to the team's mental state.

2. Late tactical calls aide Lions

I found it a bit strange that the Lions initially named Malcolm Marx and Elton Jantjies to start on the bench against the Chiefs.

If they were to be rested according to Springbok protocol, then why not exclude them from the 23-man squad altogether? It would also make more sense to rest these players for the following week's game against the Crusaders in Christchurch where no one expects even a full-strength Lions line-up to win.

But when the Lions ran out at Waikato Stadium on Friday, Marx and Jantjies were on as starters, with the latter playing out of position at inside centre.

Marx was his instrumental self at hooker, while Jantjies excelled in the No 12 jersey. They played vital roles in gaining a 20-0 lead at half-time and the men from Johannesburg did enough to avert a Chiefs fightback late in the game to win 23-17.

Whiteley's presence no doubt boosted the Lions' cause, while tighthead prop Carlu Sadie also played a blinder.

3. Another Sharks flop at Kings Park

It was another horror-show from the Sharks who went down 21-14 at home to the Reds on Good Friday.

Coach Robert du Preez was right when he said it was better than the 51-17 mauling at the hands of the Jaguares the previous week.

"I thought the boys really put the effort in... you can't fault them for effort today. We created a lot of opportunities, and I think we just couldn't execute them," Du Preez said.

He's right when he says his players tried hard, but questions need to be asked why they cannot execute.

Why are there so many handling errors, so many weak passes, so many "soft" moments on defence?

The skill level of the Sharks is simply not up to the standard one would expect from professional rugby players.

4. Stormers dominate the stats, but lose…

The Stormers completely dominated possession and territory in their clash against the Brumbies at Newlands but somehow ended on the losing side.

According to the tournament's official website, the Stormers dominated the metres made on attack (463m-172m), ball carries (172-81), defenders beaten (29-9), clean breaks (9-3) and passes completed (209-93) categories.

The Brumbies also made 224 tackles compared to the Stormers' 91, yet somehow outscored their opponents by three tries to two.

The hosts' decision to turn down several kicking penalties came back to bite them and they (much like the Sharks) displayed an inability to catch and pass properly.

The Stormers' lack of impetus on attack is well documented this season and it reflects poorly on their coaching staff.

5. Brumbies called back from the Newlands tunnel

There was a comical moment on the stroke of half-time in the Stormers v Brumbies clash when the visitors were called back from the tunnel by Kiwi referee Nick Briant.

Briant had blown his whistle for half-time after determining that Stormers scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies had knocked on just before the tryline.

However, replays on the big screen showed a high tackle was executed on Jantjies as he charged for the tryline.

Briant suddenly ordered the Brumbies players back on to the field, and after consulting with the television match official Marius Jonker, he awarded a penalty try to the Stormers.

Replays showed Brumbies wing Toni Pulu perform a high tackle on Jantjies who was five metres from the tryline.

In my view, Briant was correct in determining that the high tackle prevented a likely try - it's fair to argue that Jantjies’ momentum would have carried him over the tryline had a legal tackle been performed.

It was the right call and Pulu deserved his yellow card.

Questions however should be asked why none of the officials picked it up before Briant had blown his whistle for half-time...

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