So Week Two (technically Week Three) have come and gone! Results as I thought they’d be, but did The Force nearly surprise us all!!!
But let’s start at Saturday morning with the Chiefs taking on the Cheetahs in Hamilton. The Cheetahs started quite well, and managed to grab the lead. Even with the Chiefs scoring two tries, I still had the feeling that the Cheetahs were capable of coming back into it. A few passes not sticking and maybe a 50/50 call or two from the referee that went against them, I couldn’t help but think that the Cheetahs were about the shift in to a higher gear and score a few tries. For the first 60 I got the idea that the Chiefs might be suffering from a hangover from last year’s win (Similar to that of the Bulls in 2008 and the Reds in 2012)seeming to be a bit disjointed. But the last 20 minutes of the game proved me wrong! The Cheetahs were just hapless. I’ve said this last week and I’ll say it again, Cheetahs defence are average at best. Not taking away from the tries the Chiefs scored in the last quarter, but Naka really needs to look at getting a proper Defence Coach. That and a proper Kicking Coach. I hoped Goosen would be able to build on last week’s good second half, but he was disappointing. The Cheetahs scrum was shamed once again. Heyneke Meyer received a lot of criticism last year when he opted for Pieter de Villiers as Scrum Coach as to Os. I think it is now clear why this decision was made. If have to search for at least one positive in the Cheetahs team, it would have to go to the loose forwards. Labour hard for the whole 80 minutes.
Saturday after noon 5 o Clock… I’m quite sure just about everybody expected the Bulls to collect the 5 points against a Force team that lost against the newcomers, the Kings, last week. And for the first two minutes of the game it seemed as though that was going to happen! I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw Morne actually taking on the line AND scoring!!! And then the Bulls just went to sleep. Dominating set pieces, but not managing to put points on the board. I think it can be pin pointed to two players really. Firstly, Wynand Olivier seems to have once again forgotten how to pass. Last week it looked as if he might have been taught how to pass during his stint in Japan. But alas, he has forgotten again… Lionel Mapoe seemed full of running on the few occasions he did see the ball. A pity he saw so little of it. Secondly, Zane Kirchner. To be honest, I don’t really know what to say. Aimless kicks up field, absolutely ZERO impact with ball in hand and hapless defending. I really hope Frans Ludeke share my (and I’m sure a thousand other) sentiment and drops him. He WILL cost the Bulls matches if he continues it this rate.
The Force managed to play ‘their game’ and the Bulls fell for it. I feel Jason Jaftha over looked some very negative play by the Force. But at least Morne managed to keep the score card ticking by slotting the penalties Mr. Jaftha did award. A dubious decision from the TMO to award a try to Toby Lynn which I thought never should have been awarded. But I think the Bulls managed not to panic and found their rhythm. A brilliant try by Sampie Mastriet, showing some quick feet and super acceleration. The Bulls managing the pull of the five point win right on the hooter. I read a few match reports, and most were something along the lines of “Lucky Bulls beat Force” or “Bulls get out of jail”, but Todd Blackadder (I think) used to say after an ugly win that good teams manage to win even when playing badly. It is still very early days, and not all was bad. I think Basson had a good game, Spies a bit quieter than last week, but still very good and of course Arno Botha having a very good match. Pity about all the injuries, I hope none are too serious. Also see that Chilli has been cited. I expect a month long ban, and I hope he manages to get his head back in to the game during his lay-off. For the Force I think Sias Ebershon had a very good game, and Chris Alcock was very good when he came on. Read a news article were Frans was quoted as saying that this was the worst performance from a Bulls team in the past 5 years… Having said all this, I really hope the Bulls manage to get their act together and are able to have a good tour of Australasia.
Last game of the weekend saw the Sharks take on the Stormers in Durban. It was expected to be a tight affair, and that it was. I think the Sharks played a very smart game. Not doing anything too flashy, just taking an anaconda-like grip on the game. They played to their strengths, and were very patient in just waiting for the Stormers to concede the inevitable penalties. I can’t really fault any of the Sharks players. If I really have to look for something, I’d have to say that the line-outs could have gone a bit better. It’s hard to name just a few players who stood out in a very good all round team performance, but here goes: Louis Ludik was superb once again, and with the shocker Zane managed to produce, I am confident that there is no way that Mr. Meyer can overlook Ludik for the Bok squad. Reinacht had a very good game again, and so did Franco van der Merwe. Lastly, I think Jannie du Plessis had very, very good outing in his 100th Super Rugby match. Big congratulations to Jannie on reaching that milestone. Frans Steyn also seems to be the business as Captain.
This brings us to the Stormers… I don’t really know where to start? Let’s look at the few positive I could gather from this game. Defence. I don’t know how Jacques Nienaber does it, but the defence of the Stormers are second to none! It seemed Elton settled a bit more in his new team, not quite where he should be yet, but much better. But that’s the only positives I could find. In a team filled with so called “big name” players, it appears that each player is more concerned about his hair style and ego. Scrums are a joke. With big beefy guys up front, you would at least expect them to be able to hold their own. But at times it looked like the Sharks were scrumming against my local high school’s Third team front tow. And yet, Joel Stransky still insists that Frans Malherbe and Steven Kitshoff are the future of SA Rugby?? Please spare me!!! At 2.08 meters tall and 120+ kilograms you would expect Andries Bekker to dominate just about everything he does. But the reality is that he’s just lazy. I get the idea that he thinks because he is big he needn’t work as hard. Deon Fourie was more concerned with Jannie du Plessis than playing the game, crying like a baby over not getting his way. The general attitudes of the players are negative. I hate the fact that they would rather concede a penalty than a try. Some would call this “clever”, I call it negative and utterly unprofessional. I’m not even sure who the Stormers Captain is, because there is absolutely none leadership what so ever to speak of. AC will have to sit down with his men and have a hard, long talk. They might win a couple against the weaker unions, but at this rate it will just be another choke in the play-offs and more heartbreak for the fans.
Next week Cheetahs take on the Highlanders in Invercargill, I can’t really see the Cheetahs coming back from a near 50 point drubbing. But let us hope the Cheetahs pull something spectacular out of the bag. The Stormers take on the Chiefs in Cape Town, and if the Chiefs play like they did in the last 20 against the Cheetahs, I foresee sorrows for the Cape… The Kings host the Sharks, and I think the honeymoon will come to an abrupt end for the Kings. And then a nice and early rise for all the Bulls fans as they take on the Blues in Auckland, I watched the Blues v Crusaders game, and the Bulls will have their work cut out if they want to win this one.
Please feel free to make any suggestions or share your ideas on my article. Until next week!
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