It’s common for growing pains to follow rule changes in sport, but the Ospreys refused to learn from their kicking errors en route to a 27-13 loss at home to the Sharks on Friday.
The South African visitors scored tries through centres Jeremy Ward and Marnus Potgieter, but it was the kicking nous of fly-half Boeta Chamberlain that caught attention.
The 22-year-old sent an early statement of intent with a drop goal from close range in the 20th minute, a theme that would continue as the Sharks picked up their maiden win in the United Rugby Championship.
Chamberlain was the gleeful recipient of two more kicks directly from goal-line drop-outs either side of half-time, and he took little wind-up before pelting over two monstrous drop-goals in response:
Both long-range efforts were all the more impressive given Chamberlain was almost on the halfway line on each occasions but made the distance seem routine.
World Rugby has been rolling out trials for its new goal-line drop-out law this season, which requires defending teams to kick out from their own try line when it’s forced over by the attacking side.
Teams are still adapting to the change in terms of how best to utilise the kick, as well as the best methods of defence.
The rules state the ball only needs to travel five metres from the drop-out, encouraging some outfits to opt for a short kick and give themselves a greater chance of immediately recovering possession.
Do you think a South African team will win the inaugural URC title? Let us know in the comments section.
But Ospreys fly-half Gareth Anscombe opted for distance on the kicks in question, unfortunately finding Chamberlain downfield on both occasions.
Coach Toby Booth may not have seen the ‘unfortunate’ side of the story, however, as Ospreys’ unbeaten start to the season came crashing down at the Swansea.com Stadium.
Anscombe did convert two penalties in the first 17 minutes, but the Sharks defence held their hosts at bay for almost an hour before substitute Gareth Thomas scored Ospreys’ only try.
Booth told reporters after the game: “It was very disappointing, especially the nature of the performance to where we have been. We need to improve and improve quickly.
“We did not establish any field position and could not get out of our half. It was a typical South African pressure performance and we did not have any answers and that was the disappointing thing.
“We need to look at ourselves collectively and individually. We came second best tonight.”
South Africa’s teams may still be finding their feet in the URC, but Chamberlain is one face Anscombe may look to avoid when the Sharks hosts Ospreys in the reverse fixture later this season.