March 31, 2011 in Uncategorized
The clash between the 2 coastal teams, the Sharks and the Stormers will be another sign for the latter to see how far they’ve progressed from last year’s “almost there” season. As we all know, they were the only South African side to feature in both the Super rugby – & Currie cup final last year but actually winning the competitions was a step too far for the Cape based side. I base those disappointments to 2 things: Experience & home court advantage.
The Bulls had experience galore as they were in the finals the year before and the Sharks were playing infront of passionate fans in Durbs & eventhough I don’t want to dwell on the past or take anything away from these 2 championship sides, I do believe we would’ve atleast had 1 different result if those 2 games were played at Newlands. But lessons were learned & one of the most important ones learned was that come knock out games, you wana play at home & how do you do that? By finishing on top & the end of the round robin stages.
It may still be early in the competition but the Stormers are doing just that and they have the perfect opportunity this coming weekend, not only to extend their lead at the top of the log but to up their progress by beating the Sharks in Durban, something they haven’t done I think, since 2004. And they can do it as they have following counting in their favour:
- FORM: The Stormers haven’t lost yet this year, yeah that includes preseason too baby, where the Sharks failed to get the W 2 times in row lately. They’ll definitely be a different kettle of fish (excuse the pun) in Durbs so the Stormers will have to bring their A+ game
- PLAYERS IN & PLAYERS OUT: In the CC final last year, the Stormers had to make due without kingpins like Andries Bekker, Peter Grant & Jaque Fourie.
Yes we did have Juan de Jongh to replace Mossie but Fourie in my book is the world’s best 13 & will be missed if he’s not playing. The Sharks are just not the same without their CC final MVP Pat Lambie. Potgieter is a good replacement to have but I believe that the backs do miss their Lamborghini.
- CONFIDENCE: the Bulls game gave the Stormers the much needed confidence to believe that they can win in Durban & crossing the tryline 6 times against the Force should also give them the boost they need to balance that brilliant defense with an all-out attacking offense.
Now I obviously just mentioned factors that count in their favor but there are a couple of things that can count against the Stormers:
- LOSS OF PIETER LOUW:
We might be getting Schalk back but Louw will be sorely missed. Up until his injury, I think he’s one of the best loosies in the country and his impact on the game will be missed.
- PRIDE & REVENGE: The Sharks will be hurting & being back at home they’d wana give their fans a good show against the current log leaders. All week some of Stormers’ players have been saying in the media that this isn’t a revenge match. Hey, that’s what they’re suppose to say!!! But don’t think for a second they forgot about last year’s final. This could either mentally motivate them or mentally distract them.
It shouldn’t really be problem as I’m sure that Jean will be the vice-captain and will certainly lend a hand or a word to Schalk but when it comes to substitutions I’ve noticed that Coetzee isn’t a fan taking his captain off the field much like Jake White did with John Smit during his tenure. But like I said, I can’t see it being a problem but it will be interesting to see how the coaches go about managing their captain.
- LOSING: A loss would not only break the Stomers’ winning streak & put the Sharks back on the road by kick starting their momentum again in this competition but the loss for the Stormers could also mean that once again, they were “almost there” against their coastal rival & who knows what that could do to the team going forward.
I’m sure the Stormers will lose a game or 2 in this competition but I really hope it won’t happen this weekend. It’s gona be a humdinger though and for some reason I’m not as nervous as I usually am 2 or 3 days leading up to the game. How did I feel before that Bulls game?? Wouldn’t you like to know..
Ps: I’ve just been wondering this whole week that if the Proteas can defend their choking tag, maybe that’s a good omen for the Springboks come RWC. Juuuuuuust think about it.