Not one article on this subject gives the Aussies any chance of stopping the victorious All Blacks, on their relentless march to a new record winning streak. It is fearsome, that one side can dominate a game to this extent. At the risk of sounding dramatic, it almost reminds me of the history of Germany when the Nazi’s came to power and set off to conquer Europe. Nothing seemed capable of stopping them.
The All Blacks have raised the barrier to a level that the others appear not to be able to reach. Will they run into their Russian winter this weekend? I am afraid I have to concur with the rest:
Not very likely.
Currie Cup Semi-Final Weekend
Chester Williams is of the opinion that the final will be contested between Western Province and the Sharks.
The problem with any predictions in the modern game is that you are never sure who the final 15 will be that will start the match. In the days of Ian McIntosh, this was a deliberate strategy, a ploy also occasionally used by John Plumtree. His delayed announcements of his sides have been a curse for rugby writers for a long time. As it is today, for me.
Then we have also seen instances recently, where a player is injured while warming up – the result of a too long season.
Without any disrespect to the Bulls, I fear that the single biggest threat to the Sharks will be their own unexplainable lack of focus and dedication which just pops up when least expected, or required. They are far better with their backs against the wall, than when they are the favourites. On paper (when that eventually appears) the Sharks just have too much ammunition against a relatively inexperienced Bulls side playing away from home. The Springboks returning to the side, will certainly have a positive impact, and should enhance their chances even more.
The Bulls relish being regarded as easy meat. Their pride has helped them pull off many an unexpected win in the past. In Durban, they lack the support they have back home on the stands, and this may just fan their pride even further. There is no doubt that, as usual, the form of Morné Steyn, will play a huge role in the outcome. Jano Vermaak, at scrumhalf, may raise a few eyebrows, but for my money, Francois Hougaard as an impact player, is far more valuable than when he starts, whether this is at scrumhalf, or on the wing.
Fortune favours the visitors to the Coke Tin, based on their line-up. Despite losing the national captain two days before the match, WP must be the favourites, given their form in the Super series, and their expertise in overcoming last minute injuries. It will be very interesting to see whether they will stick to their attacking brand of rugby, which made them a joy to watch lately, or whether they will play dour Stormers rugby. Replacing Joe Pietersen with Gio Aplon would seem to indicate that they will run the ball.
The Lions, like the Bulls, are proud of what they have achieved as defending champions this year. An added incentive will be to repeat last year’s feat, as a gentle reminder that kicking them out of the Super series was a grave error of judgment. Johan Ackermann has done really well as stand-in coach, and I suspect he is very close to the players, and has earned their respect. Whether WP will be able to unsettle their inexperienced back three, will have a significant impact on the outcome of the game. It could well end up that these young Lions will turn the tables on their more fancied counterparts and run them ragged.