The fact that only three teams were in action this past weekend makes it a lot easier to arrive at a final fifteen, although we are quite sure that not everyone will agree with our choices. Players from the Lions and Cheetahs were excluded from possible selection because they had a bye this weekend.
The selection of a flyhalf, for instance, is an extremely difficult choice, given the excellent performances by Peter Grant, Pat Lambie and Morne Steyn, in their order of play. But first a preview of the weekends fixtures:
The Stormers probably had the easiest match of the three SA sides, even though they had to compete away from home. They did so in handsome fashion, and proved why they are still the top local side on the overall log. Like most of the other sides, they had to overcome injuries to key players. The difference is the way in which they personify the popular credo: ”…playing for each other.”
Like most of the other sides, we are now seeing youngsters in all the local teams establishing themselves in this cauldron called Super 15. I was concerned that we were not seeing counters for the likes of James O’Connor, but the worry should now lie with the other Sanzar countries. A look at the team selected below confirms my theory, and that does not even include the other two sides who did not play this weekend.
It was never going to be easy, but one crucial mistake, by not taking a very kickable shot at goal, probably cost the home team the game. Against a side second in defence only to the Stormers, you take any opportunity to score points. Poor handling by both sides took away a lot of the excitement from the game. Bad refereeing was an additional reason why the Sharks can say, like Pierre Fourie in days of old: “We wuz robbed.” On the other hand, missed first time tackles gave the visitors the opportunity to build up momentum on the attack. How the referee and his assistants missed the Chiefs scrumhalf slicing the ball under his locks feet on their input, leaving the hooker to concentrate on scrumming time after time, defies comprehension. The Sharks should not have lost this game against the team at the top of the log. Still, they have a bye this coming weekend, and mainly home games going into the final lap, so all is definitely not yet lost.
Five tries against two should win you the match 90% of the time, unless you have Morné Steyn kicking for the other side. Vlokkie Cilliers changed his protégé’s practice field from the “B” field to the real McCoy, and as they say in The road less travelled, that made all the difference. The Bulls are now neck and neck with the Stormers, and the race to the winning post in SA is going to be a tough one. While many pundits blame Marius Jonker for the blunder, one should never forget what we were taught when we started playing the game: “Play until you hear the whistle.” Geen span wil op so omstrede wyse wen nie, maar die oorsese spanne behoort op oorwig van voorvalle nog baie skamer as ons te wees.
Shadow Springbok Side
We had a tough time making the selections below. Trying to explain the choices could fill far more space than that which is available here, so we would like to hear your comments, especially if you differ with our choices.
For the record: the selections were made on performances yesterday only. Where there was doubt, we looked at overall performance during the competition. Where there was a deadlock, we included both players.
15 Joe Pietersen
14 Akona Ndungane
13 JP Pietersen
12 Tim Whitehead
11 Gio Aplon
10 Patrick Lambie
9 Francois Hougaard
8 Duane Vermeulen
7 Jaques Potgieter
6 Siya Kolisi/CJ Stander
5 Juandre Kruger
4 Steven Sykes/Wilhelm Steenkamp
3 Jannie du Plessis
2 Chiliboy Ralepelle
1 Steven Kitshoff
What say ye?
Lekker week, ou Grote!