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The scrums are not the issue


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 8 Sep 2014 at 16:54
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , ,

I note with some dismay that Sharks coach Brad Macleod-Henderson has identified scrums as an area of weakness for the team – and one that needs to be worked on ahead of this weekend’s trip to Bloemfontein.

While it is correct to say that the Sharks fared poorly, winning back clean ball from only 6 of their 11 scrum feeds in the game, the impact of a number of frankly inexcusable refereeing calls on this phase cannot be overstated. Simply put, the issue on Saturday at scrumtime was not that the Sharks were doing anything wrong, but that the referee was blind to Griquas transgressions at that phase.

The first infringement (7th minute) given against the Sharks was a free kick for a skew scrum feed. That one was dead to rights and a legitimate foul from Conrad Hoffmann. Nothing to do with the pack, but rather a mistake in execution from a player who made many on the night.

The second (46th minute) saw referee Lourens van der Merwe penalise Sharks tighthead Lourens Adriaanse for wheeling the scrum. Any even half decent look at the match footage shows opposite number Steph Roberts set at an angle and then proceed to scrum directly in on Adriaanse. The Sharks prop did absolutely nothing wrong – the ref simply missed what had happened and blew the penalty the wrong way.

In the 49th minute, Adriaanse was again penalised, this time for dropping the scrum. Looking at the footage, you can clearly see Roberts again prompting the collapse by pulling his opposite number down. We could perhaps give the Griquas man the benefit of the doubt here and blame the collapse on a slip from Adriaanse, hardly the sort of mistake that warrants a penalty (if indeed he was at fault, which I dispute).

Buoyed by his success, Roberts was far less subtle in the 53rd minute, with the Sharks enjoying an attacking scrum 5m from the Griquas line. On this occasion, you can clearly see him hit in and downwards on Matt Stevens, instantly bringing the scrum to ground. Once again, the penalty went against the Sharks when Stevens had done nothing wrong; he had set straight and square but could not hold up a scrum that was being forced downwards by his opponent.

The Sharks lost their fifth scrum in the 67th minute. In this case, a penalty was awarded to Griquas not for any scrum infringement, but rather because Stephan Lewies played the ball from in front of Hoffmann, who had moments earlier knocked it on. It was far from a great scrum, from either side, but Hoffmann certainly had the opportunity to turn it into something, had he been able to execute better.

My advice to the Sharks coaches would be to take this matter up with SARU and put pressure on their head of refereeing to explain the obviously incorrect calls made against them. To infer from Saturday’s performance that we have a fundamental scrumming problem, though, would be wrong and would detract from the other far more serious issues affecting the team.

scrumcollapse



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