The past weekend had quite a few interesting results none more so that Italy beating France in the Six Nations. However I will review the local games, the Gauteng Challenge Cup and the Reconcilliation game in Bloem.
The game in soweto was quite a good game considering it as a warm up game and the Bulls first outing for the season. The Lions played very well and they continued were they left of from last week against the Cheetahs. I thought the game couldve gone to either side. The Lions dominated the scrums again while the Bulls backs had the edge on their rivlals. It was impressive to see the handling and understanding between the players in this game and it did not look like a pre-season game.
Jan Serfontein displayed excellent skills and he looks like he has more time on the field than the other guys. He is a special talent and is probably going to be the back up to Wynand Olivier. It’s a shame for a guy like Francois Venter,who I believe is also immensly talented to fall behind Serfontein. For the Lions Anthony Volmink played brilliantly and enhanched his reputation with his performance.
The Lions will be looking forward to this weekend and will be hungry to win the game against the Kings. I think the Lions will push the intensity of this game as high as possible to give the Kings a rude awakening. The Kings have played two games against club teams and the results are far from being convincing. Rumour has it that they are going to play a second string team and while the other south african teams has done this it will be stupid for the Kings to do the same. This is their opportunity to win some supporters over and prove to a lot of people they deserve their spot. I for one believe the reason why they would not do this is due to the fact that they are scared to lose and maybe lose some supporters when reality hits. Like they say talk is cheap but would the Kings supporters really pitch up game after game to watch their team get beaten if pre season sceptics are proven to be correct?
The second game of the weekend was for most part a one sided affair. A game of two halves like they say. The Stormers dominated most of the game but the Cheetahs has the knack to hold on and keep going no matter what. The Stormers did have the edge when it was scrumtime when Caylib Oosthuizen was on for the Cheetahs however when he was replaced the scrums where much more even.
Most people said that the Cheetahs were bullied at the lineouts and the stormers did score 2 tries from lineouts but as we know to stop a driving maul is very difficult and the Cheetahs did that on a lot of occasions and they also scored one themselves. They lost one or two balls in the lineout but they were not dominated as much as you would think if you read some articles.
For the Stomers guys like Nazeem Carr and Kurt Coleman really put their hands up and played brilliantly, while Eben Etzebeth, Donovan Armand and Jaco Taute played also had good games. For the Cheetahs Juan Smith and Frans Viljoen as well as Hansie Graaf and Elgar Watts to a lesser extent made an instant impact while most of the rest had a reasonable games.
However Rayno Benjamin should not play centre again, he was more selfish than Wynand Olivier. Johann Sadie received the ball on two occasions, one he got man and ball together and tried a flick pass and the other he went through a half gap. I was really having a close look at that combination to see how it will go. Rayno just keeps on going into traffic when the ball should go wide and as a Cheetah side which plays a lot out wide it needs centres that is able to pass. Thus it would be stupid to judge Sadie due to the lack of ball he received.
Another guy that showed he does not belong in super rugby is wing Rocco Jansen, I have said this last year and will say it again. He is currie cup quality at most. He just kicks the ball too often on attack and gives away possesion too easily. More attacking teams like the Crusaders, Brumbies, Hurricanes live from turnover possesion and if under pressure Jansen gives the ball away to easily and it could cost the Cheetahs dearly.
This week I would love to see a Ebersohn-Sadie combination with Rhule and Le Roux on the wings. The Cheetahs could also go with Le Roux at fullback and Benjamin on the wing.
The scrums will be a big concern for the Cheetahs without Coenie, however Trevor Nyakane and Lourens Adriaanse did look solid when they paired up. The loose trio I would love to see Juan and Frans play 40mins each replacing each other while paring up with Marnus Schoeman and Phillip vd Walt.
For the Stormers I think they showed that they will again be a force to be reckonend with, but they leaked 3 tries against the Cheetahs without the likes of Goosen, Rhule, Le Roux (for the most part) and Ebersohn which should be a little bit of a concern for them since the backline for the Stormers was almost their first choice backline. For Cheetah supporters it is pleasing to see that they only leaked 3 tries while being under pressure for most of the game. The defence looks better organised and did hold for most of the 80 minutes for a change.
8 Feb Sharks vs Leopards
9 Feb Bulls vs Cheetahs
9 Feb Boland vs Stormers