Five lessons from the past weekend's Vodacom Super Rugby matches, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.
The Lions of 2014 have the ability to overturn a big deficit
Not many would have put money on the Lions beating the Reds at Ellis Park when they trailed 20-6 at half-time. But the hosts fought back with a penalty and two converted tries, the second of which came with three minutes to go. Yes, the Lions did get some help from referee Stuart Berry and the TMO, but it was a massive victory for them nonetheless. Having beaten a New Zealand side (the Blues) the week before, they now know they can be successful against Australian teams too. Johan Ackermann has spoken often about his players' self-belief being the reason for their success this season and that was evident again on Saturday.
The Sharks are in trouble if they don't dominate physically
The match at Loftus was always going to be decided by the forwards, in terms of who dominated up front and in the contact zone. The Bulls won those battles and therefore the war. The Sharks have made an excellent start to the season, but other teams will have noticed what happens if you take them on physically.
Peter Grant should not start at flyhalf for the Stormers against the Reds
Grant had an absolute howler against the Brumbies in Canberra. He failed to find touch from a penalty, missed two penalty goals, including one with eight minutes remaining, and then botched the simple conversion of Juan de Jongh's late try that would have reduced the deficit to one. The flyhalf's passing was also pedestrian and his nine carries resulted in just 29m. Grant was starting his first match this season after two appearances off the bench, but will be fortunate to retain the No 10 jersey for the Stormers' last tour match against the Reds in Brisbane. Demetri Catrakilis has an 86% goal-kicking record this season (12 out of 14), gets greater distance on his kicks out of hand than Grant, and also poses more of a threat with ball in hand (although not as much as the Stormers would like).
Referees must be clear when both sides are on a warning
The Cheetahs' match against the Blues in Auckland changed when Boom Prinsloo was yellow-carded for a professional foul at a ruck inside the red zone. The Blues scored 17 points while the flanker was off and went on to win by 10. Argentinian referee Frederico Pestrana had issued a verbal warning to the Blues, regarding the consistent infringing at the breakdown, and not the Cheetahs; yet it was Prinsloo who was binned when the whistle went next. It was poor game management and it will be interesting to see if Sanzar referees manager Lyndon Bray has anything to say about it.
The Force cannot be underestimated
Since losing their first two matches, to the Waratahs and Brumbies, the Force have recorded bonus-point wins against the Rebels and Highlanders, and beaten the Chiefs. Saturday's victory against the defending champions has given the Force their first three-match winning streak in seven years, taken them into the top half of the combined log, and ensured that no team will regard them as an easy four or five log points.
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