The 1st test win was described as one of the most significant wins for the Proteas since re-admission. Reasons may be down to the way it was done. After day one we were all a bit worried, thinking that, if we could salvage a draw, we would have done well. The lessons for us as supporters is that, although a game can be changed, won or lost in a session, there is always the opportunity to make your next day count and that was exactly what the Proteas did. Day 2 was a different story; the English lost 8 wickets for about 100 runs and was then given a lesson in batting by Smith, Amla and Kallis. The rest, as they say in the classics, is history.
Mike Horn, the South African Adventurer, and the person who led the Protea team building exercise in Switzerland, sent the following message to Smith, de Villiers, Steyn and Kallis on Twitter after the match – “History, some write it and some read it!”
One of the key elements Kirsten and his coaching staff brought to the team is self-belief, and that take loads of pressure off key individuals (of a different kind). In an interview, Smith explained that the support structure provided by Kirsten and his team was incredible. As Captain, he now only does a quarter of the things he needed to do before. This allows him and the others to focus on the job they were selected for.
We haven’t won the series yet and England is too good a side not to bounce back. Two things in our favour though, are that their press is like a rash all over them and they have unforgiving followers. If we can absorb the pressure in the first couple of days – almost like Ali did with Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle bout, the Proteas could break the English mentally. If this happens, don’t be surprised to see Mr Strauss resign after the series (if they lose). After all, it will not be the first tour to claim the resignation of a Captain, and history might just repeat itself, as happened with Hussain in 2003 and Vaughn in 2008.
Derby Day in Super-15 Showdown
Team selections for the Sharks and Chiefs indicate that they intend making full use of all the muscle at their disposal.
The choice of Deysel in place of a replacement scrumhalf, Cobus Reinach, is an indication that Plumtree intends making full use of his bench on Saturday. I was expecting him to follow the ploy he used against the Cheetahs of resting his key players in the first half, but he obviously learnt his lesson in that match, where they had to pull out all the stops to score four tries in the second half. It now appears more likely that he will want to build up as big a lead as possible in the first half, and then consolidate in the second when his top players could show the effects of their recent travels.
This tactic worked against the Stormers in both their losses this season. So do not expect them to sit and wait for it to happen. Allister Coezee is too wise for that.
Plumtree will obviously be hoping that nothing happens to McLeod, as shifting Michalak to scrumhalf could result in the same situation as last weekend, when Genia was moved to flyhalf.
The Stormers are the underdogs, despite finishing top of the log, playing at home and having an extra week in which to recover and prepare for this match. This is a role that they have become accustomed to, and, in my view, led to a number of other teams underestimating them, to their own detriment.
Only an ignoramus would deny that the battle up front will be key in this match, and the form of the Sharks in their last three matches proved that they will not be beaten here easily. The Stormers have resorted to what worked for them earlier in the season, and will also employ their reserves intelligently to make the most of the effects of the jet lag of the Sharks.
Another key aspect will be the line-outs, where the Sharks have found new confidence since Kankowski took charge there. This will be yet another interesting match within a match, as the Stormers use their abilities in this department as an attacking platform.
Uit ‘n breër perspektief gesien, lê die heil van SA rugby, of ten minste die kern daarvan, opgesluit in die twee spanne wat Saterdag speel. Die Franse flair van die Sharks, gekoppel met die potensiaal van die Stormers agterlyn, en heelwat van die voorspelers, is waar ons heil lê as ons mededingend wil bly, en ophou een-dimensioneel speel.
Darem jammer Michalak kan nie burgerskap kry nie. ons is egter so ryklik geseën met talentvolle jonges soos Goosen, Pollard en ‘n hele klompie ander, dat ons darem sal regkom, dankie.
In Hamilton gaan die stryd ewe fel wees, maar ek sien nie hoe die Chiefs, wat in teenstelling met die Crusaders in ‘n afwaartse fase is, die manne van Canterbury gaan kruisig nie. Nie met die swaar pak wat hulle gekies het, of die plaasvervangers wat in die ekstra-swaargewig kategorie inweeg nie. My voorspelling is dat hierdie wedstryd iets gaan wees soortgelyk aan daardie legendariese boksgeveg tussen Sugar-Ray Leonard en Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
Die “float like a butterfly” span gaan die Chiefs meer as ‘n bysteek gee.
Vreugde, ou Grote!