Five lessons from the sixth round of Vodacom Super Rugby, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.
Bismarck du Plessis is not captaincy material
Three minutes after Chiefs hooker Hika Elliot had been red-carded for a reckless shoulder charge on Beast Mtawarira, Du Plessis lashed out with his right boot while on the ground and kicked Michael Leitch in the head. It was an unforgivable moment of madness that should not only result in a lengthy ban but cost him the captaincy too.
Pat Lambie is captaincy material
For 62 minutes at Kings Park on Saturday, Lambie provided the Sharks with what Du Plessis didn't – cool, calm leadership. During his interview at the break, the flyhalf admitted it had been a very ugly first half. He said his team would have to be very disciplined on defence now that they were down to 13 men (with Frans Steyn having also been red-carded for a tip-tackle) and turn opportunities into points. Lambie ensured that happened in the second half and should retain the captaincy for the rest of the season.
The Bulls' attacking game is still not good enough
One try and one clean break against a Force team that had lost four consecutive matches coming into the Loftus clash is just not good enough for a franchise with title aspirations. Nick Mallett and Naas Botha provided two good examples of the Bulls' ineffectiveness on attack during their first-half analysis for SuperSport. With a three-on-two overlap out wide, all JJ Engelbrecht had to do was run at the inside shoulder of the second defender and pass. Instead, he ran across the field, negating the overlap, and the ball was lost forward. Later, Handré Pollard found touch with an excellent clearance kick, only for the Force to take a quick throw-in and boot the ball up to the Bulls 22. Instead of getting back to provide Pollard with a counter-attacking option, four Bulls backs ended up in front of the flyhalf, forcing him to put boot to ball again. And because it was a poor kick, the Force were given the chance to counter. Bulls backline coach Pieter Rossouw has a lot of work to do.
The Crusaders are still scrumming illegally
The Lions complained privately to Sanzar about the Crusaders' scrumming technique following their round-five defeat in Christchurch, but it had little effect as the Kiwi franchise did exactly the same thing against the Cheetahs on Saturday. Crusaders loosehead prop Wyatt Crockett once again scrummed in at an angle, as did his replacement Joe Moody. In his analysis of the Saders scrum after the match, SuperSport's John Mitchell said they had set up the scrum with their loosehead on the outside of Cheetahs tighthead prop Coenie Oosthuizen, allowing the loosehead to get leverage and under the ribs of his direct opponent. Apart from creating an immediate angle, added Mitchell, the loosehead grabbed his direct opponent with a straight arm and then pulled himself forward to create momentum upon the engagement. Australian referee Andrew Lees and Kiwi assistant referees Kane McBride and Jamie Nutbrown were oblivious to all of this, with Oosthuizen receiving a yellow card after a series of scrums in which Moody went in at an angle. The tighthead looked bemused as he left the field, with the Kiwi commentators agreeing that he had been very hard done by.
The Lions can fight back from a big deficit
Few would have given the Lions much chance of winning in Melbourne on Friday when they trailed 13-0 after 12 minutes. But a strong second-half performance, which produced a 44th-minute try for Marnitz Boshoff and a 78th-minute try to Lionel Mapoe, secured a 20-16 victory, their second in three matches on tour. It was a gutsy win from Warren Whiteley's men that showed the character of the side. Another four log points against the Reds in Brisbane, and the Lions really will have reason to celebrate.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images