Lions coach John Mitchell has put on report at least one of the match officials, following his team’s heart-breaking 20-32 loss to the Sharks in a Super Rugby match at the weekend.
The depleted and inexperienced Lions side fought back valiantly twice to come within seven points of a vastly experienced Sharks outfit, only for veteran flank Jacques Botes to score a late try to help the men from Durban secure a bonus point and clinch their first Super Rugby victory of the season.
Mitchell, speaking to the media after the match, hit out at the officiating of one of referee Mark Lawrence’s assistants.
“There were some dubious officials tonight, so we’re going to have to report the TMO [Johann Meuwesen] on the evidence that we have,” he said – without expanding on which incident he was referring to.
“That’s something we’ll have to deal with upstairs.
“They won’t change the result, but clearly [the officials] need to be accountable at this level.”
Mitchell felt his side contributed to their downfall by making errors at key times during the game, which proved costly.
“We suffered because I think the Sharks dominated field position enough to force three or four errors in our own half,” said the Lions mentor.
Mitchell will bemoan the loss, which puts his team at one win from three starts and well down on the standings.
However, the fact is that the Lions went onto the field minus their three leading props, without one of their two top locks, minus match-winning flyhalf Elton Jantjies and then suffered a further setback when centre Alwyn Hollenbach left the field after 27 minutes.
Effectively, it meant that experienced Franco van der Merwe had two debutant starting props, a debutant lock and hooker Callie Visagie with two Super Rugby caps to take on the powerful Sharks tight five.
Starting debutant props Caylib Oosthuizen and Jacobie Adriaanse (who had eight caps from the bench) and a debutant lock Marius Coetzer – along with Van der Merwe and Visagie – gave as good as they got.
And then, with the departure of Hollenbach, there was another shuffle with Butch James moving to centre to make way for young Andries Coetzee at flyhalf.