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A Fair to Mild Weekend

A seriously busy sporting weekend at times produced lighter moments, too. In the Bulls/Reds match, I found it very funny when the Reds received a Yellow card when Lance did a Spear tackle on a Bulls player.

Itumeleng Khune

Itumeleng Khune

 It was a great weekend for most of us – even Bafana came to the party. Sadly, the injury-hit Kings were no match for a fired up Crusaders side, and the Bulls kept their poor “second game of the overseas trip” record intact. The Sevens side came seventh, or something like that, and the Proteas finally won the series, thanks to a brilliant batting display throughout by AB de Villiers.

 

 

Bulls/Reds

The home team deserved to win. The Bulls lacked initiative and sparkle. Playing a predictable game makes things so much easier for your opponents. When you are lagging far behind in the possession stakes, then kicking ball after ball down the throat of the opposition does not make for winning rugby. While the ref made some odd decisions, you have to adapt to the way he blows. He is the ultimate decision maker on the day.

Ominously, Will Genia and Quade Cooper are showing signs of greatness again. Particularly Genia’s clever distribution kept his backline threatening throughout the game, not to mention his sniping breaks. What ever happened to the skills that made Jano Vermaak such an explosive player? I cannot recall him breaking once in the match. On the positive side, it is good to see Pierre Spies getting back to his best form.

Force/Cheetahs

In contrast to the Bulls, the Cheetahs nearly lost by trying to run the impossible balls. The try, by the very same Lance who was yellow-carded, was a direct result of this folly.  I heaved a huge sigh of relief when, close to the end, the Cheetahs did opt for the kick at goal. This was not their most memorable performance, but three out of four ain’t half bad. They enjoyed a much better second, ironically, when Sias Ebersohn, their SA import, left the field. There was possibly a beer or two cracked after the game, and on the plane, but no fisticuffs –  that seems to be more of a Rebels thing. As for the fans in Bloem, Naval Hill should have seen the famous horse doing its thing in overdrive. Vir die van julle wat die storie ken.

Sharks/Rebels

There is nothing like a good old team shuffle to stamp out the complacency which was so evident against the Brumbies. It was a splendid team performance which will hopefully continue for the rest of the season. Tony Johnson wrote in a Supersport article before the match:

Penalties had been good enough for the Sharks over the past couple of weeks, but sooner or later you have to score some tries, and to go 245 minutes – the equivalent of three full games – without getting over the white line, is tempting fate.

Well, they certainly set that one right. What a pleasure to watch this talented side fire on all its pistons. We have a wealth of youngsters coming through, and our concerns about Andries Bekker going to Japan should be allayed by the form of Pieter-Steph du Toit.

Stormers/Brumbies

This was the feature match of the weekend, and what a thriller it was. Voor die wedstryd skryf ek as volg op Facebook:

Voorspellings het ‘n manier om lelik te boemerang, maar ek glo die Stormers gaan wen vandag. Almal raas oor die Brumbies wat onoorwonne is, maar teen wie, behalwe die Sharks, het hulle al gewen? Drie van hul eie dam se ganse wat nou nie juis befaamd is om hul swem vermoëns nie. Hopelik leer Jake vandag dat rugby nie boks is nie (al dink Sonny Bill so). A better small one can beat a good big one. Wys hulle, Gio, Juan en Joe.

Gelukkig het hulle my reg bewys, met Gio wat sommer vroeg ‘n middelvinger vir Jake White gewys het. Die fisieke aanslag, gepaard met agterspelers wat berekende hardlooprugby speel, behoort vir Heyneke Meyer die bloudruk te gee van hoe Springbok rugby behoort te lyk. Beide die Sharks en die Stormers het dit hierdie naweek op skouspelagtige wyse reg gekry.

Parting Shot

When Jake White was the Springbok coach, he managed to motivate opposition sides with his comments before the game. Seems like he still manages to do that. Jokes aside, I think he is an excellent coach. I liked this comment from Tony Johnson on the Supersport website:

You have to hand it to Jake White. He’s played it very smart. He’s managed to rid the franchise of the culture of player entitlement that made life untenable for his predecessors, while still allowing his charges to express themselves. As he did with Eddie Jones at RWC ’07 he has found an able sidekick in Laurie Fisher. He took a punt on appointing as captain a Sydney interloper Ben Mowen, a man with no links to the old regime, and that’s paid off. He’s introduced his trademark structure and pattern to the team without stifling the natural flair of his players.

They have very few big stars, especially now that David Pocock is out, and yet his team is functioning better than any other in the Australian conference, in sharp contrast to the Waratahs for example, who are laden with test stars, and yet find themselves at the bottom of the conference.

Lekker kort week, ou Grote.

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