Super Rugby Weekly Opinion

Super Rugby 2015 | SA Men

After Saturday morning’s game the question might be begged why any of our teams would even bother touring down under. The Bulls were forced to tread in the same tracks as some other S.A. teams and so encountered another Aussie villain watching from on high. Even after the reprimand of SANZAR on some officials the T.M.O at Melbourne still found it within himself to deny a pretty clear and obvious try by Burger Odendaal that would’ve restored some dignity to the Bull’s tour. The Bulls played pretty much the same as they had most of the season, but they were good when they needed to be against the Rebels and should’ve come away with the win on this one.

The Cheetahs predictably involved themselves in a try-fest against the Waratahs in Bloem. Shortly before half time the Cheetahs actually led the game and given their quality on attack they seemed to be in with a chance. But their flair with the ball often directs attention away from their glaring deficiencies on defense and the Waratahs were happy to take every chance they got and outscore the Cheetahs at their own game. Cornal Hendricks was great with ball in hand and it was good to see Willie Le Roux again as well.

The Lions and the Stormers drew 19-all on Newlands with three tries a piece. It was a game of hard hits and bruising runs, with Alwyn Hollenbach twice brushed off, first by Kitshoff and then a match-ending encounter against Eben Etsebeth.  It was Jaco Kriel’s hard run at Demetri Catrakilis however that was the game changer. Catrakilis fell hard after the knock and was off with a concussion, and his replacement Kurt Coleman couldn’t land the kicks critical for a Stormers’ victory. Ironically, it was the Stormers who came to play a running game, spreading the ball wide for their tries, while the Lions got two good structured tries from the maul.  The result wasn’t exactly pleasing to either side, but being a draw gave a good reflection of S.A.’s best two teams this year, especially considering the many individuals on both sides whose Springbok aspirations have been validated with exceptional form this season. Hopefully none of them wait too long before featuring prominently for the Boks. A man virtually guaranteed of his Bok spot, Eben Etsebeth, had a monstrous game and was key in stopping the Lions’ attack and added some scintillating carries with the ball to good effect. His fire and brimstone approach would be very welcome in the World Cup.

The Stormers may very well play a so-called second string team against the Sharks and they would definitely go into Durban game without Duane Vermeulen, who has been cleared for the play-offs but will be treating his neck with care. There really isn’t anything to gain by this game for the Cape side unless both the Waratahs and Brumbies lose this weekend.  With their eyes probably already on the three match play-off fixtures a Sharks win might be in the coming, hoping to finish strongly for the departing Bismarck du Plessis, his brother Jannie and Willem Alberts.

The Bulls-Cheetahs will be a tougher encounter than one would think and could go either way. The Bulls will be low on confidence returning from a winless tour and at this stage of the season the mental aspects play an increasingly important role over tired and sore bodies.  However, the Cheetahs have had some big scores put past them recently so the Bulls will be still be considered favourites.  Elsewhere the Reds and Crusaders could do the Stormers a massive favour by beating the Waratahs and Brumbies respectively. Expect the reverse however as both the Aussie teams play at home. Furthermore, the Highlanders should beat the Blues, the Rebels the Force and the mighty Hurricanes to win the Chiefs