The Crusaders did themselves no favour by losing to the Hurricanes over the weekend. By picking up just one bonus point, they opened the door ever so slightly for three teams hovering on 49 points. All three of these teams now have an outside chance of making the top six. This, of course, places a totally new perspective on the remaining games.
The Sharks will want to beat the Bulls in Durban, scoring a full five and denying the men from Pretoria any points. The two teams will then be level with the outcome of the final matches determining who ends up in the qualifying round. Is this possible against a side filled to the brim with Boks? Highly unlikely, but then rugby is not played with a round ball.
Do not expect the Bulls to take their foot of the accelerator as they did on Saturday. There is just too much needle in matches between these two teams. Their last match against the Lions should earn them five points. Do not bank on the Bulls pitching up in a complacent manner. They were in this position before, and have all the experience not to fall over the last hurdle.
The Stormers are currently four points ahead of the Bulls. They “only” need to win their last two matches, against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein this weekend and at Newlands against the Rebels the following Saturday, to qualify for a home semi-final. The Cheetahs have proved in the past that they can be party spoilers. Who will forget their epic win against the Bulls which led to the question “How do you replace a champagne cork? Ask a Bulls supporter.” The Rebels are currently 12th on the log, having won only 4 out of 14 games. They will have the disadvantage of jet lag, and the absence of James O’Conner, when facing up to the side second on the log.
Those players out through injury were clearly missed on Saturday, and the Stormers must really pray for the quick recovery of Pietersen, Habana, Etzebeth and Vermeulen, to name but a few. Even if Schalk Burger is fit, which I doubt, there is no way he can make his usual impact, and should be nursed back into the game for the looming Rugby Championship. Bekker impressed me with his all round performance, and proved the wisdom in resting him for six weeks.
Almost more importantly, for the men from the Cape, will be the bye enjoyed by the top two teams before the knock ot phases. The current log leaders, the Chiefs, face a daunting task in the remaining two weeks, having to play the Crusaders and the Highlanders. Losing both could see the Stormers ending on top of the log.
As if this is not enough, there are two other “49ers” in the run – the current champions, the Reds, and the Hurricanes who showed this weekend that they have by no means given up.
Ai, as die rugby nou net so opwindend kan word soos die puntestand, gaan die volgende klompie weke se tweestryde ons baie plesier verskaf.
Ongelukkig weet ons dat, as die aansporing van bonuspunte vir vier of meer drieë verval, verval die rugby ook in “wen”-rugby. Die grootste verloorders is die ondersteuners.
Daardie uitdrukking herinner my aan ’n ander een wat na my mening net so verkeerd gebruik word. Om te sê jy gaan jou hond of kat laat “regmaak” is mos suiwer snert.
Hy is reg soos hy gebore is – jy gaan hom laat verkeerd maak. Wie lieg vir wie?
Ons arm Kapenaars het nou nie juis geld vir duur pryse soos IPads en dies meer nie, maar ons het darem wyn! Stuur vir ons die naam van die sportster wie se foto hier onder verskyn, en jy kan ’n bottel of drie van my gunsteling uitvoerproduk wen, of ’n eksklusiewe Moonstone geheuestokkie. Rig jou e-pos aan firstname.lastname@example.org. Alle inskrywings wat ons voor 12.00 op Dinsdag, 3 Julie ontvang, sal in aanmerking kom.