Five lessons from the 13th round of Vodacom Super Rugby, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.
Faf de Klerk and Elton Jantjies give the Lions an attacking edge
It's no co-incidence that the Lions' comeback against the Highlanders at Ellis Park began when De Klerk and Jantjies replaced Ross Cronjé and Marnitz Boshoff early in the second half. The hosts were 20-3 behind at the time, and scored a try two minutes after the introduction of their first-choice halfbacks, who lifted the team's tempo and helped them record a crucial 28-23 win. While you can't blame coach Johan Ackermann for rotating his halfbacks for this game, you'd be surprised if he didn't start De Klerk and Jantjies for the rest of the campaign, as the Lions look to reach the play-offs.
Some officials don't understand what 'changing lanes' means
The Sharks were trailing 21-17 after 61 minutes of the match in Wellington when they scored a perfectly good try from a lineout driving maul. But referee Chris Pollock went upstairs to TMO Aaron Paterson, who disallowed the try because the Sharks had 'changed lanes'. Changing lanes, or obstruction, occurs when some of the forwards, including the ball-carrier, break away from the original maul and a player other than the ball-carrier makes first contact with the opposition, thereby protecting the ball-carrier. It is not obstruction if the ball-carrier is the first to make contact with the opposition. The Sharks had every right to feel aggrieved on Saturday as they had shifted the ball to the man at the back of the maul and gone through the area previously occupied by the front lifter, so it was still the original maul and the same lane. However, as bad as the officials' decision was, it didn't change the momentum of the game, or the result, as the Sharks scored through Odwa Ndungane two minutes later.
The Hurricanes are going to miss Beauden Barrett
The log-leaders were without All Blacks scrumhalf TJ Perenara and winger Julian Savea for the match against the Sharks, but it was the absence of their first-choice flyhalf that was felt the most. James Marshall had a decent game considering he didn't play much for the Canes last year and started at fullback for Taranaki in the New Zealand Cup. But while he made 11 runs to keep the Sharks' defence honest, he failed to make a clean break in the match and didn't kick enough out of hand (just three times). He did well to slot two important penalties in the final quarter, but missed three of his eight attempts at goal. Even if Marshall does settle into the position over the next three weeks, the Canes will miss the spark provided by Barrett. Fortunately for them, he will be back in time for the play-offs.
Schalk Burger is still one of the world's best
Three weeks after winning the Laureus Comeback of the Year award, Burger produced a Man of the Match performance to help the Stormers beat the Brumbies 25-24 at Newlands. The 32-year-old scored his side's only try, carried the ball strongly, created attacking opportunities for teammates, and made 10 tackles and three turnovers. It was an all-action 80 minutes from the flanker that showed why he should be an automatic selection for the Springbok World Cup squad.
Goal-kicking trumps play-making
That's what Christian Lealiifano said before the Brumbies' clash with the Stormers at Newlands, and he was proved correct as Demetri Catrakilis was successful with six out of seven kicks at goal, and a drop goal. Lealiifano, meanwhile, hit the left-hand upright with a simple conversion that would have put his side ahead 26-25 with seven minutes to go. Instead, the Stormers were able to hang on for a win that keeps their hopes of winning the South African conference alive.
Photo: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images