Poor officiating frustrates Sharks

Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold has called for greater consistency from Vodacom Super Rugby officials following their 43-35 loss to the Bulls.

The Sharks were at the receiving end of some questionable decisions from the officials at Loftus on Saturday, most notably TMO Johan Greeff's recommendation that Jesse Kriel's pass to try-scorer Francois Hougaard had not gone forward. At that stage of the match, the Bulls were leading just 9-6 after 25 minutes.

Sharks fullback SP Marais was then denied a try in the 65th minute, with the Bulls leading 33-29, when Odwa Ndungane was ruled to have knocked on while contesting for the ball in the air.

'The decision to allow the Bulls a try off what might have been a forward pass was critical, as was the Odwa try disallowed after the other TMO decision,' said Gold.

'They were game changers, in a much bigger sense than we can understand. It went from us being in a situation of potentially winning the game, potentially getting a fourth try, to potentially losing the game with a bonus point, to losing without a bonus point. That's like a four-shot swing in a game of golf. It's massive in the context of a South African conference that's going to be very tightly contested because every team is good this year.'

While Gold didn't directly criticise referee Jaco van Heerden, he called for consistency from officials.

'We have a directive that if we are very disappointed in the referee and believe his performance is sub-standard, we are not entitled to make a comment in public, so I won’t make a comment about that [the refereeing decisions],' Gold added. 'But I will make a comment on the need for consistency on “not clear and obvious” on a forward pass for the Bulls try, but when Odwa goes up for a contestable kick, how is that consistently “not clear and obvious”. We just need consistency.'

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Simon Borchardt