Five talking points from Super Rugby
Sydney (AFP) –
A flying kick, a swinging arm and big cats baring their claws are among the talking points from week 14 of the Super Rugby season.
- Smile, it's only a kick in the head -
NSW Waratahs winger Cam Clark says he has no hard feelings after being booted in the face karate-style by Otago Highlanders winger Tevita Nabura.
The spectacular flying kick in the 18th minute on Saturday earned Nabura a red card and proved pivotal, allowing the Waratahs to end Australia's 40-match losing streak against New Zealand rivals.
Asked if he'd ever tried karate himself, Clarke laughed: "No I haven't, I don't have a martial arts background.
"I felt contact there but I wasn't too bothered about it to be honest ... you grow up as a back-three player, contesting high balls, and he's obviously been taught to protect himself, use the hard parts of your body.
"For me, it's unlucky he's just kicked his foot out at the wrong time and got his timing wrong."
Nabura is due to face a SANZAAR hearing on Tuesday and is expected to be suspended.
- Umaga fumes at swinging arm -
The years seem to have mellowed Tana Umaga whose line "it's not tiddlywinks mate" lives on in rugby folklore.
Umaga's famous outburst to referee Peter Marshall came after being penalised for a dangerous tackle on Dan Carter during a 2003 Super Rugby match between the Wellington Hurricanes and Canterbury Crusaders.
Now coach of the Auckland Blues, Umaga was fuming when Crusaders prop Owen Franks escaped with a caution when caught striking Blues hooker James Parsons with a swinging arm.
"I'm sure there are protocols around contact with the head," said Umaga. "That's the fact about it. First and foremost safety of our players is what we're looking for."
Franks was cited after the match for a dangerous tackle and copped a two-week suspension.
- Roaring Jaguares target playoffs -
Jaguares lock Guido Petti says their last four fixtures -- two at home and two away against South African opponents -- will "resemble finals" as they chase a first ever play-offs place.
"Not only do we have to try and win all these games, we must seek some more bonus points after getting our first of the season when beating Bulls."
A remarkable turnaround by the Jaguares continued as they trounced the Northern Bulls 54-24 in Buenos Aires for a fifth consecutive victory after winning only two of their first seven matches to go seventh in the combined standings with the top eight qualifying for the finals.
- Thor puts the hammer down -
Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn was full of praise for prop Taniela Tupou, known as "the Tongan Thor", after his side's 38-34 loss to Wellington Hurricanes.
Tupou scored one try and set up another with a eye-catching turn of speed for a big man as he thundered down the touch line, fending off Nehe Milner-Skudder, then dodging TJ Perenara before offloading to Jordan Petaia.
Thorn said he expected the 22-year-old, who made his Wallabies debut last year, to be around at the top level for a long time.
"He's a big lad, 133 kilograms (293 pounds)... it's great, he's at the beginning of perhaps a 15-year career as a tighthead, he's just a youngster at the moment," he said. "He's got that special X-factor about him, which is really cool."
- Upsets abound -
The Waratahs victory against the Highlanders loss was not the only surprise of the round, with Japan's Sunwolves defeating Western Stormers 26-23 for their first back-to-back wins.
Add the Jaguares taking their winning streak to five and Coastal Sharks registering a 28-24 win over Waikato Chiefs and it was a good weekend for the underdogs.
Even the Reds pushed Hurricanes all the way before losing 38-34.
"It's probably the most even competition we've had for a while and tonight's result was a good example of that," Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger said after his side suffered the unwanted fate of becoming the first Kiwi team to lose to an Australian side after a 40-match trans-Tasman streak going back two years.
"The Waratahs played outstandingly well and the Sunwolves had a good result against the Stormers too, so I think the comp has probably evened out a little bit."
© 2018 AFP