Super Rugby

5 talking points: Super Rugby Week 14

Siya Kolisi (Gallo Images)
Siya Kolisi (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Sport24's Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Week 14 of the 2019 Super Rugby competition:  

1. Bulls finally win abroad

The Bulls started their Australasian tour with a vital 32-17 win over the Rebels in Melbourne last Friday.

Remarkably, it was their first win overseas since 2016 and also enough to see them finish the weekend atop the SA conference.

Despite some horror results against New Zealand teams this season, the Bulls are still in a favourable position and will fancy themselves against the Brumbies in Canberra this Friday.

Flyhalf Handre Pollard and winger Rosko Specman were the Bulls' standout players.

Pollard caught the eye by scoring a brilliant try under the posts when he sniped through the Rebels defence, while Specman produced a moment of magic when he impressively kept his balance to set up a try for centre Burger Odendaal, before also rounding off in the corner for the Bulls' fourth and final try.

2. Lions stay calm in Ellis Park try-fest

The Lions claimed an equally vital win when they floored the Highlanders 38-29 in a seesaw encounter at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Both teams scored five tries but in the end the accurate boot of flyhalf Elton Jantjies made the difference.

The men from Johannesburg also showed great composure to close the game out when they trailed 22-21 heading into the final quarter.

In the end, a heavy penalty count (12-3 in favour of the hosts) cost the visitors from Dunedin dearly.

The Lions also benefitted in this regard in their previous outing when they won 11 penalties and conceded a meagre two.

With a 23-5 favourable penalty count over two home games, questions should perhaps be asked why the Lions made such heavy weather of winning both games...

3. Crusaders robbed by forward pass call?

No doubt the biggest talking point from the 19-all draw between the Stormers and Crusaders at Newlands was a disallowed try by winger Sevu Reece.

The Crusaders, leading 19-16 with five minutes left, thought they had scored a fourth and match-clinching try when Reece rounded off a kick-and-chase.

However, South African television match official Marius Jonker said there was "compelling evidence" that substitute back Braydon Ennor had made a forward pass to Reece and the try was disallowed.

For me, it was clear the ball was passed backwards. It may have gone forward with momentum - as both players were in a forward running position - but there is no doubt that the ball was passed backwards.

In-studio SuperSport pundit Rob Kempson said afterwards he had called former top referee Mark Lawrence, who informed him that the wrong decision was made.

4. The captain's word is final!

Right at the death of the epic encounter at Newlands, Stormers captain Siya Kolisi made a decision to go for the draw after his side won a penalty in close range.

It appeared as though Kolisi had made the decision against the will of several of his team-mates - and some of the coaching staff - who seemingly wanted to set up a lineout and go for the win.

I feel Kolisi made the right call. A draw against the competition's best team is a result the Stormers would have taken beforehand.

I also doubt whether the Capetonians - who are bottom of the try-scoring charts in Super Rugby - would have been able to break through a stanch Crusaders defence.

The Stormers lack impetus on attack - and given what's transpired this season - it's fair to assume that they would have struggled to cross the whitewash had Kolisi gone against his own gut feel...

5. Test atmosphere at Newlands

A crowd of over 30 000 at Newlands meant Saturday's clash rivalled that of a Test match.

It was good to see such an impressive crowd in a season marred by poor attendance figures.

Yes, the crowd may have included several Cape Town-based Crusaders fans, but it was good for the Stormers to test themselves in a pressure-cooker environment.

The Stormers are renowned for not "pitching" in big games and the fact that they clawed their way back from a 19-10 deficit in the second half - against the competition's front-runners - will no doubt boost their confidence.

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