CAPE TOWN – Mark Keohane shares his weekly Rants and Raves following the weekend's Super Rugby fixtures.
1. Sharks flank Jean-Luc du Preez’s offload in the tackle in the 59th minute to set up a try for his older brother Robert had a Sonny Bill Williams authority about it. Du Preez showed his skill and class in that moment. It was the kind of play that unlocks defences in Test matches. Du Preez is a physical beast, but he is also a wonderful rugby player.
He understands space and while he backs his strength in the collision, he isn’t one-dimensional in his attack. Du Preez’s blindside flank performance was the most emphatic among South African players in that position this season. More of the same and he will wear the No 7 Springbok jersey against England.
2. Robert du Preez at flyhalf finally found the form that won Western Province the 2017 Currie Cup. This was the complete flyhalf performance. He kicked 13 from 13, scored a try and created a couple. More than that he had presence at flyhalf and played with intelligence.
This was his Super Rugby coming-of-age game and he certainly has added his name to the Bok flyhalf possibilities, alongside Elton Jantjies, Handre Pollard and Pat Lambie, who started at flyhalf in Racing 92’s Champions Cup quarter-final victory at the weekend. Damian Willemse is likely to be in the Bok squad mix, but not as a starting option.
3. The Bulls pack, as a collective, were monumental against the Stormers. They showed that attitude is everything when it comes to the dark arts of rugby. The Stormers mentally were not switched on and they got punished in the first scrum and never recovered.
It set the tone for the match and the Bulls never took a step back. Bulls coach John Mitchell needed this kind of result after four successive defeats, and if the Bulls continue to win at home they will start filling Loftus once again.
1. Pieter-Steph du Toit’s yellow card in the 41st minute was justified. It was a moment of stupidity and it killed the Stormers’ momentum. Somehow the Stormers had trailed by just the one point at halftime. Two quick tries just before halftime were against the run of play and a further score straight after the restart would have been a game changer. Du Toit, even though there was no intent to stomp on a Bulls player from a maul drive, would have known he was stepping on more than grass with his leg drive.
There was a recklessness in how he kicked back at the resistance. It was obviously a player. Du Toit’s 10 minutes in the bin killed any faint chance of a Stormers resurgence. Du Toit is one of the best players in SA and will be in the Springbok squad. Big players need to own the big moments, not give them away.
2. The Lions’ refusal to kick at goal against the Crusaders defied logic. The kick to touch and lineout drive yielded little and the averages will show that it more often than not has no reward. The Lions were premeditated in their game strategy and the failure to cash in on some gimme three-pointers underlined an arrogance or an ignorance.
Take your pick, but you only had to watch the Sharks match to appreciate the value of kicking three points when on offer.
3. I still don’t know how referee Marius van der Westhuizen wasn’t stood down after his abysmal officiating of the Stormers vs Reds match. There was no consequence to his ineptness and at Loftus he was again poor. Come on Sanzaar, make referees accountable.
* Keohane is an award-winning rugby journalist, former Bok communications manager, founder of Keo.co.za and the author of five best-selling rugby books.