It must be the best game of the weekend, but that is not to say the other games were good at all or that it was a close race for the best game of the weekend.
As promised to Rob and you at SharksWorld, an independent review of the Sharks match last weekend from a good friend and rugby man who has been involved in the game for a very long time at most levels! Enjoy and look out for some more in the future!
I am pretty sure a lot has been said already with regards to the referee and his assistants but I want to start off just highlighting a couple of things.
Firstly, a ball not carrying 5 meters as required by law from a line-out throw in lead to (in the end) a very good try by Wynand Olivier after he collected a grubber from an ever improving Morne Steyn.
Secondly, the suspicious forward pass from Wynand Olivier to Tiger Mangweni that also lead to a try which was not called, this after the Bulls were up in arms a week before for a similar incident in their loss to Western Province.
In my view both calls were correct, but I will not go into the technicalities of a forward pass (again) to illustrate that the action of the pass (forward or backwards) and not the ball trajectory is what is important.
Thirdly, in the 57th minute Danie Rossouw got penalised for an apparent ‘double movement’ when he went over to score a try. A ridiculous call.
Fourthly, the so-called punch from Jannie du Plessis (after Kuun screamed at the assistant referee) that got punished.
And lastly, the try from Albert van der Berg where from my viewpoint, he stood in front of the ball (i.e. off-side) before he picked it up and scored a try.
Too many contentious incidents to highlight in my view in any event but let’s move on.
One of the many turning points (given the involvement of the referees and TMO) was in the first 10 minutes where Derrick Kuun was yellow carded for an apparent stomping incident on a Sharks player. The call came from the assistant referee, not the TMO.
The Sharks for some strange reason could not capitalise on this and it also seemed to fire up the Bulls a bit. What I picked up however that the Sharks tried to spread the ball wide too quickly, obviously trying to make the most of the extra man, but the Bulls defense did not faulter and the skip passes did not bring the results the Sharks hoped for.
In fact, the Bulls during much of this period and the whole match showed that hand-to-hand passes, and straightening the line got them over the advantage line 90% of the time when they launched attacks – something the Sharks could learn from and probably whisper in the ear of their flyhalf and centers.
For the Sharks their backline looked better especially with the reserve 9 that came on, but they have some real problems at 10 where Dumond did duty in the absence of Barritt.
Their centers, Andries Strauss and Waylon Murray too had games they would want to forget, and what surprised me of a Sharks team that is supposed to be an attacking force, was the aimless kicking.
BJ Botha’s performance was very good at scrum time, especially given the 41kg’s advantage the Bulls had.
The Bulls got a lot of confidence when they scored with a man down and never really looked like losing from there on in.
In that 10 minute period however, the Bulls did concede a hell of a lot of penalties and free-kicks and I am actually surprised harsher sanctions were not dished out at this time for these deliberate, and sometimes cynical offenses especially at the breakdown.
I believe young Francois Hougaard for the Bulls needs more game time. Steyn was solid and Wynand Olivier, along with Danie Rossouw are staking strong claims for a Bok spot again.
Both wings were also busy but my man of the match goes to Tiger Mangweni for the Bulls.
The Bulls dominated possession through the match and even with the ridiculous TMO referrals are deserved winners of the match.
My final thought is on something that really irritates me and that is the new thing creeping into our game with players screaming and shouting at referees.
Derrick Kuun went off against the touch judge over alleged foul play where he screamed and gestured and it could be heard quite clearly over the television audio.
Now if Mr. Watson actually wants to do something to make rugby more enjoyable for everyone, perhaps he should concentrate on giving a mandate to referees, and teams, that dissent will not be tolerated and that any player that screams at a ref, or assistant ref in any circumstance, be serverly dealt with.
Referees should only ever explain themselves to the captains of the respective teams, and that even is a favour, not a right.
It is about time that players stop playing referee or tell the referee’s how to control a game.
Final Score: Bulls 35 – 14 Sharks (Half time 25 – 9)
Tries: Mangweni 2, Olivier, F Hougaard
Cons: Steyn 3
Pens: Steyn 3
Tries: Van den Berg
Pens: Dumond 3
Blue Bulls: 15 Tiger Mangweni, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Marius Delport, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 John Mametsa, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 JP Joubert, 8 Pedrie Wannenburg, 7 Wikus van Heerden (captain), 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Danie Rossouw, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Derick Kuün, 1 Jaco Engels.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Rayno Gerber, 18 Francois van Schouwenburg, 19 Jacques Burger, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Derick Hougaard, 22 Zane Kirchner.
Sharks: 15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 Chris Jordaan, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Henno Mentz, 10 Monty Dumond, 9 Scott Mathie, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Nic Strauss, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Johann Muller (captain), 4 Albert van den Berg, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Skipper Badenhorst, 1 Deon Carstens.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Alistair Hargreaves, 19 Skholiwe Ndlovu, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Riaan Swanepoel, 22 Albert van den Berg