Cape Town - Sport24's Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Week 13 of the 2019 Super Rugby competition:
1. Another reality check for Bulls
The Bulls received another reality check when they were outclassed by the Crusaders in Pretoria on Friday evening.
The Bulls have shown glimpses of a revival this season but their matches against New Zealand opposition indicate that they are still way off the pace.
After Week 6, I wrote that the Bulls were brought down to earth with a 56-20 home defeat to the Chiefs and the same can be said for this past weekend's 45-13 loss to the defending champions.
The Bulls were outclassed in all departments and they need to further improve their skills levels if they want to compete with the pace-setting Kiwi sides.
2. Satisfying tour for Sharks
Following a 29-23 defeat to the Chiefs in Hamilton, the Sharks ended their three-game Australasian tour with seven points, courtesy of a win, a draw and a loss.
The Durbanites went into the tour on the back of some shocking home defeats and would have taken what transpired over the past three weeks.
They will feel they should have beaten the Chiefs but some lapses on defence late in the game proved vital.
But, for the moment, the Sharks remain atop the SA conference and third in the overall standings and they will take heart from that.
3. Referee in the spotlight at Ellis Park
The Waratahs were heavily penalised in their 29-28 loss to the Lions at Ellis Park.
According to SANZAAR's official website, South African referee Egon Seconds penalised the Sydneysiders 11 times, while the hosts only conceded two penalties the entire game.
It's safe to say the Waratahs weren't overly pleased with Seconds' performance, with SuperSport pundit Nick Mallett also saying afterwards that "a couple of calls had gone the Lions way". The former Bok coach also pointed out a clear forward pass which led to a Lions try early in the second half.
Not surprisingly, the Australian media took a dig at Seconds, with FOX Sports poking fun the South African referee who also found himself in the players' way on a few occasions.
WATCH the incidents in the Tweet below:
The penalty count was 11-2 against the Waratahs and referee Egon Seconds featured in some truly bizarre moments. ?????? pic.twitter.com/4ZEACOEmDK— FOX SPORTS Rugby (@FOXRUGBY) May 12, 2019
4. Did Chiefs kick the ball dead?
There was another incident involving the officials in the Chiefs v Sharks match in Hamilton where there appeared to be some confusion as to whether the home side had legitimately kicked the ball into touch off a penalty.
The Chiefs attempted to set up an attacking lineout but some critics argued that flyhalf Marty McKenzie had kicked the ball over the dead ball area.
It was touch and go and a tough call to make for Australian referee Nic Berry and his assistants (Paul Williams and Brendon Pickerill). However, it was a critical moment in the game and the Chiefs scored shortly afterwards.
5. On a positive note...
It wasn't the greatest weekend for South African rugby, but the Lions deserve credit for keeping the Waratahs at bay, having trailed for large parts of the match.
Springbok hooker Malcolm Marx produced another sublime man-of-the-match performance, while it was fitting to see captain Warren Whitley get through 80 minutes of rugby after an injury-plagued season.
Despite losing to the Chiefs, the Sharks will also have learnt valuable lessons on tour: they realised the way to compete against the Kiwis is by taking them on physically, instead of trying to run them off their feet; while Curwin Bosch featuring more at flyhalf should be prioritised in Durban...