Five lessons from the 15th round of Vodacom Super Rugby, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.
Bismarck's still got it
Bismarck du Plessis has had a tough Super Rugby season, struggling for form in the early rounds before receiving a four-week suspension for foul play that saw him relinquish the captaincy. But on Friday, he bounced back in emphatic fashion with a Man of the Match performance against the Reds to help the Sharks snap a six-game losing streak. Du Plessis was immense at the breakdown, forcing six turnovers, made 13 tackles and carried the ball strongly, gaining 27m from eight runs. When the 31-year-old focuses on his game, and stays disciplined, he is the best hooker in the world, and his display in Brisbane bodes well for the Boks.
Referees must allow a passage of play to be completed before going back to check for a possible infringement
The standard of officiating in this year's Super Rugby tournament has been abysmal at times (see the Waratahs-Crusaders game for further examples), but referee Angus Gardner got it spot on in Brisbane when he waved play on following what appeared to be an obvious knock on from Liam Gill in the tackle. Chris Kuridrani went on to score a try in the corner, with Gardner then blowing his whistle and going up to the TMO. Replays showed that the ball had come backwards off JP Pietersen, the tackler, and not forward from Gill, and the try was rightly awarded. It was excellent refereeing and something we need to see more of in this competition.
The Bulls must stick to their structures
Accurate kicking and good defence resulted in two tries and a 15-3 lead for the Bulls after 15 minutes of their match against the Chiefs in Rotorua. But the visitors then became too loose and kicked poorly, which allowed the Chiefs to get back into the game, and ultimately claim a comfortable victory. If the Bulls are to win their remaining tour matches, against the Brumbies and Rebels, they must stick to their structures and attack within that framework from the right parts of the field.
Warren Whiteley has learned from past mistakes
The Lions captain made sure the game against the Cheetahs was won, before pushing for the bonus-point try. Whiteley pointed to the posts when he had to, with Elton Jantjies slotting the three points. When it was clear the victory was secured, the Lions went for the fourth try and got it through Faf de Klerk. The five log points briefly took the Joburg-based franchise to the top of the South African conference and third on the combined log.
Kick the ball out if you're deep inside your 22 at the end of the first half
The Rebels were well in the game at Newlands when they trailed 13-7 with time up at the end of the first half. So why did they try to run the ball close to their tryline after winning a lineout? Pat Leafa's pass was intercepted by Dillyn Leyds, whose try gave the Stormers an 11-point lead. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
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