• What we’ve learned

    Five lessons from the past weekend's Vodacom Super Rugby matches, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.

    Chatting to your players can cost you a try
    With 10 minutes remaining, and the Sharks leading the Rebels 22-9, Australian referee Andrew Lees penalised the visitors. Lees then blew his whistle again, called 'time off' and warned both captains about 'far too much going on after the whistle'. Bismarck du Plessis then asked if he could chat to his players and Lees replied, 'Yes, you can'. Du Plessis was still talking to his men when the Rebels took a quick tap, sent the ball wide and scored in the corner. That prompted Sharks CEO John Smit to tweet: 'Paul Honiss?' It was Honiss, the New Zealand referee, who told Smit to chat to his players during a Springbok Test against Ireland in Dublin in 2004. Ronan O'Gara took a quick tap and scored what proved to be a match-winning try. Fortunately, the Rebels' controversial score didn't cost the Sharks victory in Melbourne.

    Quick penalty taps can reap great rewards
    I'm a big believer in the saying that teams should 'always take the three points' when awarded a kickable penalty and the game is in the balance. But the Stormers have shown that the gamble of taking a quick tap and pushing for a try can pay off handsomely. Against the Highlanders, it resulted in a second-minute try for Frans Malberbe and one for Ollie Kebble in the 48th minute, when a penalty goal would have given the Stormers an eight-point lead.

    The Bulls and Stormers should stick with Handré Pollard and Kurt Coleman
    Apart from his flat skip-pass that was intercepted by Johann Sadie, Pollard had a good game in his first start for the Bulls. The 21-year-old attacked the advantage line and helped the Bulls to play a more expansive game. He also kicked well for goal, out of hand and for touch. Apart from the sitter of a penalty he missed, Coleman did well in the No 10 jersey for the Stormers. His excellent flat pass to Juan de Jongh resulted in a try for Damian de Allende, and his distribution was good in general. Both flyhalves deserve to retain their starting positions.

    Ma'a Nonu can deliver in Super Rugby
    Nonu was the All Black no Super Rugby franchise wanted, before the Blues finally picked him up. He had always underperformed at Super Rugby level, most notably for the Blues and Highlanders, yet suddenly found form when pulling on a black jersey. But this year has been different. Nonu has been excellent for the Blues, no more so than on Friday against the Reds. Nonu was the provider of his side's first three tries and left the field in the second half when the game was won. The Blues' fifth consecutive home win has put them into play-off contention, and if they do end up finishing in the top six, they'll have their midfielder to thank.

    The Sydney Football Stadium has become the Waratahs' fortress
    The Tahs' 39-30 come-from-behind win against the Hurricanes was their eighth successive Super Rugby win at home. In those matches, they have scored 18 tries and conceded just six, including three on Saturday. Michael Cheika's side is now just a point behind the Brumbies and in with a real shot of winning the Australian conference. 

    Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images
     

    Post by

    Simon Borchardt