At this stage of the Super Rugby competition, the words of the Don Schlitz song, made famous by Kenny Rogers, come to mind:
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done
It seems that Gregor Paul of the NZ Herald holds the same view:
The gamble coach Johan Ackermann took in not sending his top side to Buenos Aires for the final conference game is starting to look wiser than anyone realised.
Ackermann gambled that his fresh troops would be too good for whatever Kiwi team had to trek to Africa for the quarter-final.
He was right. He also gambled that if a New Zealand team finished with the number one seeding, they would end up facing a Kiwi team in the semi-final.
He was right and no doubt part of his thinking, too, was that there would be a reasonable chance of there being an upset.
We’ll have to wait to see if he’s right about that, but a Chiefs’ victory at the Cake Tin is entirely possible.
They beat the Hurricanes earlier in the season, albeit by a whisker and on the back of some outrageous luck. But they did win and just because they rode their luck on that occasion, it doesn’t mean they can’t win again in the capital.
The Chiefs were impressive in beating the Stormers and with Seta Tamanivalu likely to return, they will have better shape to their midfield than they did in Cape Town. And while it will be a blow if they lose Sam Cane, they will miss him less than the Hurricanes are going to miss Dane Coles.
A Chiefs victory and the final could be at Ellis Park – which is why the Lions have to be seen as a contender.
An article in my local rag pointed out that the Highlanders travelled 46 640 kilometres in the last month by the time they landed at OR Tambo on Monday night and rightly points out that this, coupled with the altitude in Johannesburg, is bound to have an impact on the visitors. They are only human, after all.
Unfortunately, the results of both sides in last weekend’s encounters provide little guidance as to the outcome this weekend. Both the Sharks and the Stormers were outclassed. Perhaps the away victory by the Chiefs may just give them the edge in this regard, although the journey to SA and back may impact on them towards the end of the game.
Obviously, we will be elated with a Chiefs win, but the result is likely to be as close as their final points on the log, where the home side only managed to outscore the Chiefs by two bonus points.
All the NZ sides have made it very clear that they do not revert to conservative rugby when winning is all that counts. I thought the ‘Canes were particularly impressive in very adverse weather conditions last weekend.
Uiteindelik gaan dit ‘n heerlike naweek van goeie rugby wees.
Kom ons hou net duim vas dat die gekkespul wat vanjaar se formaat veroorsaak het, nie weer herhaal gaan word nie. Schalk Burger se beroep dat dit eenvoudig gehou moet word, verdien aandag.
Keep it simple, stupid. Is dit nou so moeilik?