What NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the South African derby between the Sharks and Vodacom Bulls at Kings Park.
‘Today there wasn’t a lot to choose between the two sides, they were equally error-ridden. We looked for highlights in a game, but we found a lot of lowlights.
‘But it helps to have a kicker who is on song like Handré Pollard. You can’t blame a kicker, but there were a number of occasions where the Sharks could’ve gone into the lead had Robert du Preez managed to convert all his kicks. The Sharks had better momentum in the second half, but the Bulls just managed to get the penalties in the right places and Pollard took the points.
‘There were apparently only 14 handling errors in the first half. But time after time there were knock-ons from balls being collected in the air and in contact situations. It was obviously difficult at Kings Park, but you’d expect professional rugby players to do better.
‘In this game, Lizo Gqoboka definitely got an advantage over Coenie Oosthuizen, who was twisted sideways because he didn’t make good hits and lost his binds.
‘It would’ve been very frustrating for the Sharks, but for that last scrum they took off Beast Mtawarira and Oosthuizen, and they had a new hooker on there as well because Akker van der Merwe was sent off. That was an immense finish to the game by the Bulls, so well done to that young front row for winning that penalty.
‘There was a turnover as usual and it caused the Sharks to go forward. What’s important about this is to remember what the protocol is. The ball is kicked and bounced back inside, a pass was made and the Sharks scored. The referee went up to the TMO and said “I’m happy that a try was scored” and asked if there’s any evidence that the ball hit the line. There has to be clear evidence that it did hit the line and there was no clear and obvious evidence to me, and it certainly wasn’t obvious to Joel Stransky and Owen Nkumane who were commentating and to probably a lot of viewers out there.
‘That ball has to be clearly touching the line, not perhaps touching the line. Had the referee said, “No try because the ball was in touch”, the TMO could have then said, “OK, there is a possibility that it did graze the line”. But if a ref says he is happy a try was scored, like in this case, the TMO has to have clear evidence that the ball was out and there wasn’t. So that was an incorrect decision by the TMO in my opinion.
‘With regard to the two red cards, there was a little headbutt that caused Schalk Brits to react. He was taken out by Akker who then continued to push. In reaction, Schalk threw a left which hit Akker’s cheek and Akker responded again by hitting him while he was on his back on the ground. It’s very simple in rugby that if you land any blow to the head of an opponent then it’s a red card. So both red cards were fair.
‘I thought the ref had a very good game today, by the way. And it’s great to have a neutral ref in such a tight derby because no one can say he supports one team or the other. It was a good decision to red card both hookers, and he worked well with his assistants to come to that conclusion. So there can be no complaints there at all.
‘The Sharks would be very disappointed to lose two matches against South African opposition at home – the Stormers and Bulls – and that’s twice they’ve lost against the Bulls [this season]. It’s going to be hard for them going forward, they still have to go away and play the New Zealand teams.’
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