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Bulls too good on night where Slade red card is main talking point

By PA
(Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Exeter captain Henry Slade could miss the start of the Six Nations after he was sent off in a 39-28 Heineken Champions Cup defeat to Bulls, where a last-minute try gave the battling Chiefs a bonus point in Pretoria. England international Slade was handed his marching orders in the second half for a high tackle on Kurt-Lee Arendse, putting his participation at the beginning of this year’s Six Nations campaign – which begins next month at home to Scotland – in doubt.

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Despite the red card, Exeter finished strongly enough to stay above their opponents in the table with a home game against Castres to come. It was 20-year-old Welsh lock Dafydd Jenkins who forced his way over in the final seconds for that fourth Exeter try, though the home side scored six on their way to a comfortable victory.

Exeter had started strongly in the altitude of Loftus Versfeld, but a lack of discipline allowed the home side to open the scoring from a tap penalty under the posts which saw number eight Elrigh Louw barge over from short range before Chris Smith converted.

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Exeter hit straight back with centre Slade sending out a superb pass to full-back Josh Hodge which cut out the blitzing David Kriel. Hodge had a bit to do but found the open spaces to race 40 yards to score under the posts with Joe Simmons converting.

The Bulls were obviously taking notes because when replacement hooker Bismarck Du Plessis earned a turnover, they too sent out a pass to their full-back which cut out the charging defence. Arendse showed his pace to race clear, centre Wandisile Simelane taking the ball on and passing back inside for Kriel to get the try.

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When in doubt, Exeter can always rely on the lineout drive. A scrum penalty gave them the chance of a five-metre lineout and the backs joined the forwards in the drive to the line, with centre Solomone Kata getting the score. Just before half-time, the Bulls got their second try from a tap penalty under the posts and this time it was second row Ruan Vermaak who charged over.

They extended their lead shortly afterwards, Simelane fly-hacking ahead and taking advantage of a fortunate bounce to regather and score his first try for the Bulls. The pace of the game even got to referee Mathieu Raynal, who departed with a hamstring injury and was replaced by touch judge Thomas Charabas.

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His first action was a scrum penalty against Exeter and Bulls hooker Johan Grobbelaar went over from the lineout drive. Charabas’ second major decision was the red card for Exeter skipper Slade.

The spirit of 14-man Exeter was shown by Jannes Kirsten going over for a try – as Harvey Skinner added the extras – before Simelane sealed the result with an interception try. But that set up the grandstand finish with the visitors pushing for the bonus-point try and eventually getting it at the end through Jenkins.

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Jon 3 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Sopoaga is going to be more than good enough to look up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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f
finn 12 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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FEATURE Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma
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