Marius van der Westhuizen (Gallo)
- The Pumas were left heartbroken on Friday night after conceding three tries in 10 minutes to go down to the Stormers.
- The refereeing of Marius van der Westhuizen has been a talking point.
- The Stormers’ winning try came off a pass that many believed should have been ruled ‘forward’.
It was so very close to being a
night to remember for the Pumas, but it ended in heartache as the
underdogs fell at the final hurdle to go down 42-37 to
the Stormers in Nelspruit on Friday night.
The Pumas, for the majority of the contest, were
superior to their more fancied opposition in all departments and it reflected
on the scoreboard as they opened up a 37-14 lead after an hour.
Three Stormers tries in the last 10 minutes,
however, secured a stunning comeback win for the Capetonians as the Pumas ran
out of puff with their lack of experienced depth exposed.
Stormers coach John Dobson admitted that the
result was a “burglary” by
his side, while Pumas boss Jimmy Stonehouse said it felt as if “somebody
had died” in the Pumas changeroom in the moments following the final
An injury to Pumas flyhalf Eddie Fouche didn’t help
One of the form players in Super Rugby Unlocked so
far, Fouche was left screaming in agony after buckling under a cleanout from
Salmaan Moerat and Chris van Zyl at a breakdown.
Stonehouse confirmed to Sport24 on Saturday morning
that scans had still not been done on Fouche, but it is suspected that he may
have dislocated his hip and his season could very well be over.
One of the major talking points during and after
the match, however, was the standard of the refereeing.
Marius van der Westhuizen, one of the country’s
more experienced referees, was the man with the whistle.
The majority of the confusion lies in the blowing
of the laws at the breakdown, where referees are now encouraged to be even
stricter on infringements – on attack and defence – and penalise players
swiftly in an effort to speed up play.
The moment that buried the Pumas on Friday night,
however, came from open play when Stormers replacement lock JD Schickerling
released Warrick Gelant for what would be the match-winning try towards the end
of the contest.
The pass was sent upstairs to AJ Jacobs for TMO
inspection and looked like it may have been forward, but it was decided that
the try would stand.
Stonehouse felt naturally aggrieved at the call and
while he said he sympathised with referees, particularly given the breakdown law
changes, he said the consequences of being on the wrong side of such “50/50” decisions hurt the smaller unions.
“I want to make it very clear that I know it’s
tough for the referees at the moment, especially at breakdowns,” said
“But we just ask that they be consistent.
“It might be tough for the referees, but it’s
also tough for us. For us, results like last night [Friday] can be the
difference between securing a sponsorship or not … it’s about the players’
“I don’t want to come across negatively and,
as I said, I understand that it’s tough for the referees, but we do need to
work together to find some consistency.”
While Schickerling’s pass was naturally the call
that stood out given that it resulted in the winning score, Stonehouse also
pointed to the breakdown and not always understanding the decisions that were
taken in that area.
It was a tough pill to swallow for the Pumas, who
had done everything right up until the last 10 minutes, but Stonehouse said he
was largely pleased with the efforts of his players.
“It wasn’t nice for us, but the biggest thing
is that the players now know they can do it against the bigger unions will all
of the resources,” he said.
“You need to have that depth at this level and
that’s what we don’t have. The players off the bench must know how important it
is for them to come on and do their job, otherwise we’re going to get smacked.
“In terms of effort, I couldn’t ask any more
… the guys played their hearts out.”