Round 7 sees the Lions and Cheetahs taking a well-earned break to try and get their injured players back in shape. In the case of the Free Staters, they will also be tending to their badly bruised confidence.
In response to Monday’s article, Wayne Fouche commented:
Personally I fear for the sustainability of this tournament now that it seems they will expand it to 18 teams which are likely to include Northern Hemisphere sides and/or a Japanese team.
The word “cannon fodder” comes to mind, very much like those soldiers in the trenches in World War 1.
World War 7
Possibly the second biggest challenge for the Cape-based side, after their lack of confidence, lies in the line-outs. Apart from playing with an untested lock pair, the hooker, Deon Fourie, has not played in this position for quite some time, and may have a problem with the accuracy of his throw-ins at the lineout. Coupled to this, one should understand that he will take some time to adapt to the new scrummaging laws which now expects a hooker to actually hook the ball. The Stormers used the driving maul as an attacking weapon in the last few seasons – if this is now also in tatters, not much remains for a team already battling to score tries.
The Reds have just returned from their African Safari, and may feel the effects of jet lag in the second half. I anticipate that they will try and build up a commanding lead in the first 60 minutes, and rely on their replacements to hold the fort in the last quarter of the match.
DHL Stormers team: Gio Aplon, Damian de Allende, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers (captain), Sailosi Tagicakibau, Peter Grant, Louis Schreuder, Duane Vermeulen, Siya Kolisi, Nizaam Carr, Michael Rhodes, Jurie van Vuuren, Frans Malherbe, Deon Fourie, Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: Stephan Coetzee, Oliver Kebble, Brok Harris, Tazz Fuzani, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Nic Groom, Demetri Catrakilis, Jaco Taute.
The Force showed last week how the Chiefs can be beaten. The Bulls managed to out-muscle Marcel Coetzee at the breakdowns last weekend, and Pottie and Steggie will no doubt try and repeat this feat. The Chiefs are masters on the ground, and beating them there will blunt their attack. With the high altitude always a factor against visiting teams, expect fireworks from the Bulls in the last quarter.
Vodacom Bulls team: Jurgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Francois Hougaard, Dewald Potgieter, Jacques du Plessis, Deon Stegmann, Victor Matfield (captain), Paul Willemse, Werner Kruger, Callie Visagie, Dean Greyling.
Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Morne Mellett, Marcel van der Merwe, Grant Hattingh, Jono Ross, Piet van Zyl, Handre Pollard, Ulrich Beyers.
As a rugby lover, I am sorry that Israel Folau is not playing. He is undoubtedly the Sonny-Bill of the last two seasons in terms of impact. As a SA rugby supporter, his absence fills me with delight, and must improve the chances of the Sharks winning this encounter, despite losing their influential halfback pairing.
The experience of Charl McLeod, coupled with the talent of Fred Zeilinga, means that the KZN team is not substantially weakened in these critical positions.
Jake White’s team selection for Saturday can be seen as making provision for possible injuries as the series progresses. Mvovo at fullback, Alberts at lock and JP Pietersen’s shift to left wing is, to say the least, surprising. There is little fault to be found with the skills of the two wings under the high ball, but expect Mvovo to be severely tested in this department.
SHARKS TEAM: 15.Lwazi Mvovo, 14.Odwa Ndungane, 13.S’bura Sithole, 12.Frans Steyn, 11.JP Pietersen, 10.Fred Zeilinga, 9.Charl McLeod, 8.Ryan Kankowski, 7.Jean Deysel, 6.Marcell Coetzee, 5.Stephan Lewies, 4.Willem Alberts, 3.Jannie du Plessis, 2.Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1.Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16.Kyle Cooper, 17.Dale Chadwick, 18.Lourens Adriaanse, 19.Etienne Oosthuizen, 20.Keegan Daniel, 21.Stefan Ungerer, 22.Heimar Williams, 23.SP Marais.
Foot in Mouth Disease
The best rugby article I read last week appeared on the Supersport webpage.
In “No one can bake the cake like Jake”, the authors take the mickey out of Jake White.
Here’s the thing with Jake White: he is a master motivator, but you never know if it’s his team or the opposition that will end up inspired.
Think back to 2004. White had just won the Tri-Nations with the Springboks and expectations were high on their end-of-year tour. Then the urge to motivate flared up. In a press conference in Dublin he claimed that only three Irish players would make it into his team, and with that he almost single-handedly secured a famous victory for the home side at Lansdowne Road that weekend.
He was at it again last week. The flare-up was just a little more spectacular.
“It’s easy to prepare against the Bulls,” said an everything-but-contrite White ahead of his team’s trip to Pretoria.
“You can take a video from last week, the week before, last year, five years ago. They haven’t played differently for 30 years.”
As if writing a pre-match speech for Frans Ludeke he continued: “We know what’s coming: Kicks from 9, kicks from 10, maul, a bit of variation. Then kick from 9, kick from 10, maul.”
That wasn’t it.
What really happened was that White had set up his men to be blindsided. Literally.
Sterkte vir die naweek, manne. Ondanks die pessimisme oor die Stormers, voel ek so aan my bas ons gaan die naweek drie uit drie wen.