Only a fool (or a Shark) would cheer a meaningless February win. The purist knows that the real favourites (Stormers and Crusaders) are notoriously slow starters. Quite simply, Saturday was a mere hiccup on the road to glory.
Besides, the wise man knows that adversity breeds champions.
This is relevant because right now most teams would do what the Bulls have done – rolled over and given up!
But not our Stormers. There was a time on Saturday, it must be said, when I allowed a shameful sliver of doubt to creep into my psyche. For just a split second I lost the vision of the Stormers making glorious the nation of the Cape and I had to get up and bang my head against the wall.
My wife slapped her thigh and let out a cackle just as the Lions number ten slotted yet another drop kick. She is from across the Vaal, for what it is worth. Doesn’t even like rugby yet her damn team won. It was pointless trying to explain to her that the Lions methods are out-dated and Naas Botha-rish, or that they go right against the grain of wholesome running rugby. She just pointed to the score board and sniggered.
My real point is that I will keep this game on file for later in the competition when the Stormers are sitting pretty and I will use it to demonstrate the perseverance so sorely lacking in, say, Pretoria for example.
[A quick aside - Jake White has been spotted in the Cape again, probably sniffing around for the possibility of a coaching job – keep away please! Even though you probably want to retire here like every other South African with a penchant for quality, we don’t abandon our teams down South.]
Bulls vs Cheetahs: as sad as we predicted. One doesn’t even know what to say about them anymore, except that they lower the tone of South African rugby and need to take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror. And I mean a really, long, hard look.
Sharks vs Hurricanes: The Sharks were cut down to size on Saturday by a team massively jet-lagged and unable to adjust to the terrible Durban heat (how do people live there? It is just terrible and the rest of the country feels for you in much the same way we feel for earthquake victims). But the Sharks were only able to score two tries against this ragged outfit, which is only half the amount scored last week. This means they will battle to score even one try against the Lions.
This Saturday will be telling because the Stormers will be up against past tournament winners, the Hurricanes, who will have overcome their jet-lag and no doubt be embracing the perfect climate that we enjoy in the Cape. In addition, they have obviously been saving themselves for the Stormers, knowing that last Saturday’s battle was more against jet-lag than the Sharks.
I urge all Stormers supporters to stay strong and remember that we did not take our A-game to Joburg last Saturday – we took our C-game with the aim of helping the Lions get back on their feet in the Super 15. In many ways that game was just a mercy-screw and quite frankly I don’t appreciate the Lions smugness.