Old Dogs and New Tricks – Our marketing colleague, Divan Kleynhans, mentions that it was a good weekend for the Old Boys Club to put their hands up. Victor Matfield, Schalk Burger and the youngest member of the group, Frans Steyn, taught many a youngster a lesson or two.
Jonathan Kaplan tweeted that he thought the last penalty against the Cheetahs was a mistake. It robbed the visitors of what may still prove to be a crucial point for finishing within seven points.
The fact that a total of 76 points were scored, including eight tries, is testimony to the open style of play of both sides. It was an exhilarating game to watch (and re-watch, as I did), albeit marred by yet another example of most of the 50/50 calls going against the South African side, a view shared by Mr Kaplan.
Elgar Watts has certainly grown in stature, and made a significant difference when he came on, including scoring a great try.
Schalk Burger was undoubtedly the man of the match if one ignores the final outcome. Full tribute should be given to the whole side, though, for showing tremendous character on defence, and moments of brilliance on attack.
When Scarra Ntubeni was replaced by Tian Liebenberg, the front row suddenly held their own in the set pieces. As much as Scarra gives 110% in commitment, it is not enough when faced by an All Black pack. His injury may just be a blessing in disguise.
Spare a thought for Allister Coezee, though. He does have Deon Fourie as substitute hooker, but Fourie’s all-round ability on defence, and on the ground, would leave a serious gap which I do not think will be easily filled.
Damian de Allende grows in stature game after game, and must have his name jotted down in Heyneke’s notebook for the national side.
The Loftus faithful will be back in droves after yet another convincing performance by the home side against a team who thrashed the crusaders a week ago. Jaques-Louis Potgieter was yet again the man who made all the difference, and in more emphatic style than I think Morné Steyn would have.
He brought the backs into play a lot more, given the solid foundation laid up front, and Jan Serfontein and JJ Engelbrecht proved more than a handful for their opponents.
None of this would have been possible without a strong performance up front, and with Deon Stegmann showing how much he was missed while injured.
Testimony to the genius of Jake White was to opt for Frans Steyn to replace Pat Lambie at flyhalf, at the last minute, rather than opt for the obvious choice of promoting Fred Zeilinga or Tim Swiel from the bench. It reminded me of a line from The Road Less Travelled:” …and that made all the difference.”
Not that I think the youngster would not have been up to the task – far from it. He apparently carried an injury sustained the night before for Sharks against the Bull dogs. Given the fact that this was less of a crunch game, and one the Sharks would have pencilled in as a win, coupled with the knowledge that there is still much rugby left in the competition, it would have made sense to give someone like Tim Swiel some exposure at this level.
The scoreboard speaks for itself.
Steyn was his usual laid-back when interviewed after the match, talking about how being married and a father has changed his priorities. Methinks Heyneke Meyer was as impressed as I was.
Elders, mooi weer en matig
Sekerlik die grootste skok van die naweek was die reuse loesing wat die Rebels op die lyf geloop het. Die Force sou beslis baie selfvertroue herwin het, en ander spanne sal hulle in die toekoms met meer ontsag benader.
Die Brumbies se oorwinning oor die Hurricanes het my ietwat verbaas, maar as mens lees dat dit die ‘Canes se derde nederlaag van die seisoen, en agste een na mekaar is, moes ek seker van beter geweet het, ondanks hul ster-belaaide agterlyn.
Quote of the week
Chris Rattue writes in the NZ Herald:
“The NZ teams have come roaring out the gate like a drunk exiting a nightclub at 3am.”