Cape Town – A couple of debatable decisions went against runaway Super Rugby leaders the Crusaders on Saturday as they drew 19-19 with the Stormers after a thriller.
Skipper and All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock shook his head to indicate unhappiness with a last-minute penalty awarded against the New Zealanders at a vibrant Newlands.
Stormers substitute flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis slotted the kick to salvage a draw, although some of his South African team-mates believed they should have kicked for touch and sought a match-winning try.
The Crusaders thought they had scored a fourth try with five minutes left of the round 14 match when winger Sevu Reece scored off his kick-and-chase.
But South African television match official Marius Jonker said there was “compelling evidence” that substitute back Braydon Ennor had made a forward pass to Reece and the score was disallowed.
Replays of the incident suggested otherwise with Ennor seemingly passing the ball backwards out of his hands.
SuperSport TV analysts and former Springboks Rob Kempson and Gcobani Bobo said a try should have been awarded, which would have given the visitors an eight-point advantage.
Rival skippers Siya Kolisi and Whitelock did not discuss the incident, preferring to dwell on one of the liveliest Super Rugby matches this season.
“The Crusaders brought out of the best in us and the crowd support was awesome,” said Springbok captain and flanker Kolisi.
Whitelock also hailed the 30 000-plus crowd: “It was a great atmosphere to play in. Now we head home to face the Blues next weekend.”
The draw pulled the Crusaders 17 points clear of the second-placed Bulls in the combined standings while the Stormers remained 12th.
Flanker Matt Todd, fullback David Havili and Ennor scored a try each and flyhalf Richie Mo’unga kicked two conversions for the trophy-holders, who led 12-10 at half-time.
Kolisi scored the lone Stormers try, flyhalf Josh Stander kicked a conversion and two penalties and Du Plessis two penalties.