The ridiculous controversy around Victor Matfield’s scrum cap was taken to new heights when the Bulls donned their riot squad attire on Saturday against the Stormers. The sharp contrast between their military rugby jerseys and their amazing techni-coloured rugby boots must have looked like a very enticing prospect for the glam guru who also hails from Pretoria.
Jokes aside, I thought the result was yet another reflection of the need to find suitable replacements for their two injured fetchers. Despite annihilating the Cape team in the line-outs, they were beaten at the breakdowns. Coupled with a host of penalties conceded, particularly by Dean Greyling, the Bulls, apart from the first 20 minutes of the second half, did not look like a side desperate to keep their faint chance of making the play-offs alive. Matfield’s reading of the riot act to Craig Joubert did nothing to alleviate the situation.
With the Stormers dominating possession and keeping play in the visitors half, Kurt Coleman looked more like the incumbent Springbok halfback than Pollard. Since Gert Smal and Henning Gericke joined the Stormers, they won 7 out of 8 Super 15 matches, a fact which will force Jake White to reconsider his team selection for the final round on Saturday against the Cape side.
The Cheetahs maintained their reputation of winning when their opponents can least afford it when they held on to their lead in the final 10 minutes against a replenished Sharks team. The experienced substitutes nearly pulled it off – if they came on 5 minutes earlier, the result may have been different, but we all know that “if” is often used only after things went wrong.
The Cheetahs will no doubt be very pleased with moving up one place on the log, conceding the bottom rung of the ladder to the Rebels (thanks to the Lions), but the Sharks may just rue having lost this game.
I still agree with Jake White’s decision to rest the weary warriors. They will be sharper on Saturday against the Stormers, and the prospect of ending second, thereby earning a bye, will no doubt play on his mind as he plans for the final match in the round-robin section.
The ladies final was a huge disappointment, but the Federer/Djokovic match reminded me of the grand old days when McEnroe, Borg, Edberg and Becker reigned supreme. Poor old Becker was never in the same league as Edberg or Agassi in the looks department, and has certainly not improved in the rankings since then. Still, his player achieved the most sought-after prize in tennis, and the number one world ranking, so he is probably not overly concerned as far as that is concerned.
The clinical team performance against Sri Lanka proved that this is a mature side, well aware of their ability, and highly professional in their approach. After Tahir bowled poorly in his first two overs, he got his length right and proved why the selectors have so much faith in him. I thought Ryan McLaren, in particular, had an outstanding match, as did AB and Amla. Morné Morkel has also grown tremendously in stature since those earlier days when you first checked to see whether he did not overstep before you looked at the actual delivery. The home crowd trooping out of the stadium before the end of the match was also something I have not seen in years.
World Cup Brazil
With the feast of sport on this weekend, I did not manage to see too much of the spectacle in Brazil, but by all accounts, the tournament is heading for an exciting final.
The Germans face a huge hurdle against the home side. Under their current coach, Joachim Loew, the Germans made the semi-finals in the previous World Cup, reached the 2008 European Championship final and also the Euro 2012 semi-final, but are still trophy-less. Will this be their moment, given their exciting new style of play?
The most attractive game on Wednesday may well be the Holland/Argentina match. The unprecedented replacement of the Dutch goalkeeper for the penalty shoot-out this weekend is indicative of the unpredictability of the Dutch, which explains why they did so well over the years.
Pundits reckon the match will be decided by which of the two stars will shine brightest on Wednesday – Van Persie or Messi.
Kom ons hoop dit raak nie morsig nie.