The log this past weekend reminded me of the balls being juggled for the lottery draw. Up and down, sideways, then up, then down. This year’s competition is really a very good one, given the number of teams vying for a place in the final six, right up to the last weekend.
These loose thoughts came to mind as I watched the highlights again on Sunday morning:
- Kankowski, after Friday’s game, is the natural replacement for Juan Smith, especially as an extra lineout option.
- I shudder to think that we nearly lost the Beast due to a politician’s interference. Demolishing the Bulls front row is quite some feat, and takes a very special player, or three.
- As good as the Sharks defence is, they seldom manage to drive the opposition back in the tackle, the way the Stormers do.
- It must be exasperating for the Sharks supporters that their team always seem to play at their best when their backs are against the wall – losing to the Lions one weekend, then beating the mighty Bulls convincingly in their next match. As things currently stand, this may actually count in their favour, going into the last match against the Cheetahs. If things pan out as expected, they might face the Brumbies in Australia. Far rather that, than playing the Crusaders in New Zealand.
- The Bulls tried valiantly, but when their biggest strength, their pack, was neutralised, they appeared to be human, after all. I am not sure if this was the reason, but they appeared to lack that fire in the belly that makes them the formidable team that they are.
- The Stormers should consider resting their players this week, bar the kickers. Their tactical and positional kicking was extremely poor. Given the importance of field position, they missed too many line kicks, allowing the Cheetahs to counter attack.
- Not using the deadly accuracy of Peter Grant when able to score penalties, resulted in a very scary last 15 minutes. If the Stormers had built up a substantial lead by doing so, they would have forced the Cheetahs’ hand in slippery conditions. Luckily for them, the Free State team missed their penalty attempt in the 70th minute, or the pressure would have been even bigger.
- The Lions retained some honour in their great fight back, but are unlikely to move away from the bottom of the log in their last game. Their coaching difficulties may just add to the chances of them being dumped from the Super 15 next year.
- I would still like to see a promotion/relegation match, though. The Southern Kings cannot make the transition from second division to premier league in one season. They should spend at least one season in the Currie Cup, where their ability is tested, before possible promotion. We are a proud rugby nation, and with three likely contenders in the top 6 this year, I would hate to have a local side thrashed even worse than the Lions were in the last few years.
Although our competition coverage (or was that lack of coverage?) was limited to a few scantily clad “courtesans”, we followed the competition in London with great interest. Having a semi-South African in the men’s final obviously stirred even greater interest. The early departure of the hot favourites, in both the men’s and ladies’ competition, provided a totally new perspective to this great sporting event.
The ladies final was not the greatest ever. Federer initially stuttered in the men’s final, but then simply wore Murray down. The latter appears to have overcome his childish petulance, but now needs to work on his stamina.
We requested readers to e-mail the answer to last week’s sultry tennis star to Shelley. It appears that the picture muddled the minds to such an extent that one eager beaver actually posted the correct answer on the blog!
Another great chirp, this week, came from Ron Wiggill in Johannesburg:
Good day Paul,
In my 60 years on this planet I have watched a lot of tennis. Consequently to identify a player is quite easy. However, I can honestly state that this is NOT a tennis player as in spite of my years I would have recognized that chest which I have never seen gracing a tennis court before.
Consequently she must be a film star from one of the Eastern bloc countries, although the blonde hair and the lack of any visible chest support could mean a lady from a Scandinavian country.
Kind regards and tongue in cheek,
Sorry Ron, being 60 myself, I know what happens to one’s eyesight over time. She actually lost to the losing finalist, Agnieszka Radwanska, in the quarter-finals. She being Maria Kirilenko. Perhaps you should blame the strict dress code at Wimbledon for the “over” sight.
Our winner this week is that never-say-die KZN rugby fanatic, Tony Calitz. Well done, Tony. It seems that he has an eye for more than just a good game of rugger! Paull Lawrence, our intrepid TV presenter will be in Durban next week, and will deliver your special bottle of export wine personally.
As we move on from tennis to the London Olympics, we decided to introduce one or two of our hockey stars in this competition. I got a lot of flack from the ladies in the office for not including some eye-candy for their delight. Depending on the response from lady readers, we may just change this next week.
This week’s picture should be a walk in the park for all the Hawkeyes out there. Please mail your answer to Shelley by noon on Tuesday.