Cape Town - Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett says the Sharks were unlucky to receive a yellow card early in the second half of their Super Rugby quarter-final loss to the Lions in Johannesburg.
With the Sharks leading 14-3, lock Stephan Lewies was sent to the sin-bin after being caught off-side.
Referee Marius van der Westhuizen had warned Sharks prop Thomas du Toit over his scrummaging but there was no team warning prior to Lewies receiving his marching orders.
The Lions scored two tries during Lewies’ absence and eventually won the encounter 23-21.
“I’m sure there are thousands of furious Sharks supporters. They played a wonderful game, there were just a couple of things that happened that probably turned it against them,” Mallett said in the SuperSport studio afterwards.
“I thought Stephan Lewies’ yellow card was harsh and very tough on him. The referee had warned the loosehead prop about his scrummaging. But to give a yellow card, in the red zone admittedly, without a team warning, was harsh. To send a player off for streaking offside in that situation, as a first offence in the red zone in a quarter-final, was a tough call. In addition, the Lions scored two tries, so in that period there were 10 points scored against the Sharks.”
Mallett also criticised the decision-making of Sharks fullback Lwazi Mvovo late in the game.
“The second point was Lwazi Mvovo at fullback when he gets the ball with three minutes to go. He had all the time in the world to run it out and put a high up-and-under in the air. With a wall of Lions defenders in front of him on the halfway line, he tried to hold on to the ball. First of all, he passed the ball in contact, which was a big mistake as he conceded possession,” Mallett said.
“Secondly, he got to his feet, but was standing in an offside position and immediately gave the penalty away and that is the penalty Ruan Combrinck kicked over. So Mvovo, in that moment, completely lost perspective of where they (the Sharks) were in the stakes of the game. His first mistake was not kicking it down there, passing in contact was his second mistake, and the third mistake was never getting back on side. So those two issues, the Lewies yellow card and Mvovo’s decision-making at the end, were difference between a win and a loss for the Sharks and I feel very sorry for them.”