British & Irish Lions

Kolbe yellow was the right call, insists Springbok coach Nienaber

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Ben O'Keeffe shows Cheslin Kolbe his yellow card. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Ben O'Keeffe shows Cheslin Kolbe his yellow card. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
  • Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber believes the decision to only show Cheslin Kolbe a yellow card for taking out Lions halfback Connor Murray in the air was the right call.
  • Nienaber mentioned that foul play incidents follow a comprehensive process of adjudication and while he didn't explain it, said the referees followed it "to a tee".
  • Bok prop Steven Kitshoff admitted the 27-9 victory was a match defined by several big moments where decisions could've gone either way.

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber believes there could be no quibbling over whether Cheslin Kolbe's yellow card for taking Connor Murray out in the air was a sufficient sanction.

The diminutive and dynamic South African winger was given his temporary marching order in the 24th minute when he ran straight into the airborne British & Irish Lions scrumhalf.

He clearly had his eyes on the ball throughout, but never jumped to contest for possession.

While TMO Marius Jonker and on-field arbiter Ben O'Keeffe judged there to be mitigating circumstances, there were arguments for Kolbe perhaps being lucky.

"I thought it was the right call that was made," Nienaber said following the Boks' statement-making 27-9 victory at the Cape Town Stadium.

"There's a clear process that is followed when the referees adjudicate foul play. To go through it now would take five minutes (of this media conference), but there's a clear process.

"If this happens, you look at that. If that happens, you look at that. I thought it was followed to the tee."

Kolbe had earlier been the victim of a careless trip by his compatriot Duhan van der Merwe, who was also sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes after clearly never having the intention to contest for a loose ball.

The incident, which will no doubt be a talking point in the Lions' camp, highlighted a first half where rewards were few for the touring side despite their overall dominance.

Springbok prop Steven Kitshoff, who celebrated his 50th Test cap with a typically composed performance, was philosophical about a match strewn with interesting incidents.

"This was a game of big moments," he said.

"There were a few instances throughout the 80 minutes where decisions could've gone either way. But we worked hard to get the rub of the green on our side."

Influential centre Lukhanyo Am, who skilfully rounded off the Boks' second try, felt O'Keeffe's showing was a decent one, but also pointed out that Rassie Erasmus' video this week set a platform.

"The first Test was a rather interesting one, but what I can say is that there were opportunities that we couldn't convert because of the decisions made by the referee," he said.

"We understood what was at stake in this game and this was a game we needed to win, but I'll congratulate the referee and not because we won, but because of his good decision-making for both teams.

"The role that was played by Rassie to get some fairness from the match-official has certainly levelled the playing field."

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