It’s all to play for!

The Black Caps looks set to play an additional batsman and forgo the four man seam attack for the last and final test. Perhaps a test too late, but they have identified the Protea bowling attack as the major threat to their batting, hence the balance of their team is expected to be adjusted by adding the extra batsman.

The major threat may actually be the weather in Wellington as overcast and damp weather is predicted for the first three days. Both teams have been forced to prepare indoors as the current weather has prevented any outside net practices.

Wellington, has in recent times, not been a good venue for the home team. They emerged victorious only once in seven tests, against a weak Bangladesh, and were defeated by Sri Lanka, England, Pakistan and Australia and drew against Pakistan and India.

The Proteas start as the favourites and are full of confidence against a New Zealand side needing to win to save their season from being a poor one.

This could size up into a heated contest!

Mark Boucher
Mark Boucher

Congratulations: Mark Boucher on reaching 550 test dismissals in the 2nd test against the Black Caps. He is also only five dismissals away from completing 1,000 dismissals across all formats in the international game.

Lookout: Vernon Philander to reach his 50th test wicket in the next test. (He’s currently on 45). According to Cricinfo, if he takes five in the Wellington Test he will be the fastest South African to 50 Test wickets and the fastest in almost 116 years.

Rugby News – By Paul

After our last comment about Digby Ioane’s lenient yellow card, it was quite refreshing to read that he was cited and banned for 5 weeks. Our “resident” ref, Alex Bax, reacted as follows when I shared the news with him: “It’s also interesting to note that a white card need not be shown for the disciplinary body to take action, the white card only gives the ref a say in what should be looked at.

And so on to the weekend’s rugby…

Waratahs versus Sharks
From the Sydney Morning Herald: The Waratahs’ marquee overseas signing Sarel Pretorius is in danger of being demoted to the bench for his team’s first encounter of the year against his countrymen when they play the Sharks in Sydney on Saturday afternoon.

Back-up halfback Brendan McKibbin’s goalkicking ability could work in his favour when the selectors choose their team today, and see him start ahead of Pretorius, as there are concerns about placing any further pressure on Berrick Barnes, who will take over from Daniel Halangahu at five-eighth.

I am sure that the Sharks will welcome this decision. The return of Berrick Barnes is, however, not good news for the Sharks. Although only three points separate them on the log, the visitors have two victories to their credit, and the ‘Tahs only one in four attempts.

Banner headlines in Australia refer to the Waratahs having their “worst start in the competition ever.” We know that they always produce something extra when they play the Saffers, so expect a vastly improved performance.

The Sharks are better than average tourists, and should win this one, provided that they can keep the momentum they built up in the second half last weekend.

Crusaders versus Cheetahs
A roof wetting function was held two weeks ago at the temporary stadium in Christchurch, and indications are that the match against the Cheetahs will be the first to be played there. There is no doubt that, like last year, the Crusaders will use this as a huge motivator for the game. Their season started in typical fashion with two unexpected losses in four games. The Cheetahs game is probably one that they penciled in as a win, at the start of the season.

The visitors, in turn, have made some interesting changes, particularly in their front row, to try and avoid the number of penalties conceded thus far. In fact, these specific transgressions cost them the match against the Brumbies, and even though they may feel cheated, the ref makes the final call.

Home advantage and experience favour the Crusaders, but I have a sneaky suspicion that they are going to be “Cheetahed” this weekend. ‘n Boer maak mos ‘n plan, en Os is een!

Bulls versus Reds
In a way this match reminds of the boxing match between Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard, which disproved the maxim that a good big one will always beat a good small one.

Perhaps it is a little unfair to regard the Bulls as brawn only, and the return of Hougaard and Sadie should bring that added dimension to the Bulls backline. Despite all the unfair criticism against Morné Steyn after one off day, he remains a match winner, and has on so many occasions proved his detractors wrong that I wonder why they still bother?

The Reds won three out of four matches so far, and, as a team, possess that rare commodity called flair, which makes them extremely dangerous against a side firmly structured in their approach.

If pressed for a prediction, my head says Red, my heart Blue.

Lions versus Stormers
John Mitchell bemoans the spate of injuries as his worst crisis ever, while the Stormers picked an unchanged side. In fact, looking at the teams lined up for the weekend, there are seven TBAs (to be announced) and seven actual teams, due to the uncanny number of injuries so early in the season.

The facts indicate a Stormers victory, and it is difficult to find arguments against this. While the Lions still have individual stars available, it is the lack of experience in certain key areas which may hamper them.

Duane Vermeulen
Duane Vermeulen

My one comment about the Stormers is that I would like to see Duane Vermeulen in his rightful position as number eight. If Nick Koster wants to challenge him for it, he should do so in the number 7 jersey.

By Sunday, the Stormers should be top of the log, alone.
Maar dis net my hart wat praat, hoor?
Lekker kyk, ou Grote!

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