The local rugby weekend in review and looking ahead

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

Don’t write the Cheetahs off too soon!

Well the eagerly awaited pre-season tussle between the Cheetahs and the Lions, or should I say Cheetahs B and Vodacom Cup Lions, is done. The game was a good hard tussle for most of the game.

The Lions won 33-17 which to be fair is a reflection of the game. The Lions did deserve their victory and ultimately used their chances far better than the guys from Bloem.

Most people are now writing the Cheetahs off already, based on their first outing of the year against a team full of youngsters that want to prove a point. Take nothing away from the Lions they deserved their win. 

The lions did dominate up front in the scrums as I expected. When Nyakane came on it was more equal with the lions having a slight edge in the scrums. The Cheetahs however dominated the breakdowns in the first half and it was the main reason why they had the lead at half time. Marnus Schoeman drives people nuts and with him and Heinrich Brüssouw in the match day 22, teams will struggle to win the breakdowns against the Cheetahs.This will also give the Cheetahs good ball they need and it can be dangerous for their attacking backline. Schoeman was replaced at the interval and the Cheetahs lost the breakdowns in the second half, getting bad ball and conceding more turnovers which the Lions took and scored.

In the backline guys like Ebersohn, Graaf, Nel, Brümmer, Van Zyl and Geel never played together before and the backline did not flow as well as expected. Graaf is also not a wing and it showed when he made a huge error which lead to a lions try, he also threw a long pass from Graaf that led to the intercept try from Lionel Cronje when the cheetahs were chasing the game. I feel they missed the experience of Adriaan Strauss, Brüssouw etc a lot in the second half. They needed someone to calm them down.

I thought the Cheetahs defence was good and the Lions had to revert to kicking over the defensive line which caught the Cheetahs with their tails between their legs and the lions took advantage of this and made telling scores. The Cheetahs panicked and started to make more and more errors.

One also has to remember that the Cheetahs won against the Stormers in last years warm up game but lost twice against them in the competition and people were also giving the stormers a bit of flack. The Stormers still ended the year on top of the log and the Cheetahs 10th. A few years back the Bulls lost against the Kings in a warm up too!! It would therefore be stupid to make too much of this game.

Apart from the fact that the Cheetahs has a lot of work to do before the competition and  I have no doubt that they will learn from this game. I’m please that the Cheetahs lost this one, last year too much were made of the win against the Stormers and the guys lost the first 3 outings of the season. Hopefully this win will make the players stay humble and keep on working hard.

Like already said a few times this year the Cheetahs were without approx. 11 first choice players. Guys like Goosen, Le Roux, Brüssouw, Coenie and Strauss will make a huge difference to the team.

As for the lions they also missed their stars like Jantjies, Taute, Mapoe, Van der Merwe etc. So its fair to say they were also hampered a bit, but al lot of the youngsters that played against the Cheetahs know each other from age group level and played together before. While a team like the Cheetahs consist of 3 unions (Free State, Griquas and the Griffons). To get the squad to gel before one game is a bit far fetched.

Lets wait and see against the Sharks in a month’s time before we write a team off.

SupeRugby 2013 looking ahead.

After the year end break I am looking forward to the new rugby season to get underway. On the weekend the Lions played their first game of the Lions Challenge and I was really impressed with how they played given it was their first outing of the season.

The Lions without their stars are still formiddable and should win most of their challenge games.

This weekend the Lions tackle the Cheetahs, who are usually likened to finish in the last 3 before the superseason begins. This year is no exception. With the bookies only rating the Kings and the Force chances worse then the Cheetahs’s.

According to news from Bloem is that the Cheetahs will field a very weakened team on the weekend. The following players will sit out Boks Coenie Oosthuizen, Johan Goosen, Juan Smith and Heinrich Brussow, along with Andries Ferreira, Martin Muller, Phillip van der Walt, Pieter Labuschagne, new recruit Johan Sadie, utility Willie Le Roux and Sevens Bok Rayno Benjamin.

The Stormers and Sharks are the favourites from South Africa while the Bulls will finish mid table according to the bookies.

The Stormers look like a terrifying prospect this year with a possible starting 15 looking a bit like this: Stephen Kitshoff, Tiaan Liebenberg, Schalk Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi, Schalk Burger, Duanne Vermeulen, Dewaldt Duvenhage, Elton Jantjies, Brian Habana, Jean Div, Juan De Jongh, Gio Aplon, Jaco Taute. Leaving guys on the bench like Deon Fourie, Peter Grant, Joe Pietersen to name a few. They will be one of the favourites to win this year no doubt.

The Sharks are also a strong unit with a possible line up like this: Beast, Bismarck (when fit)/ Burden, Jannie, Anton Bresler, Franco van der Merwe, Marcell Coetzee, Willem Alberts, Ryan Kankowski/Daniel, Reinach/Mcleod, Pat Lambie, Mvovo, Frans Steyn, Jordaan/Whitehead, Pietersen, Ludik. The Sharks have plenty of depth just like the stormers and should be one of the favourites too.

The Bulls will be a strong team, but with the retirement/movement and loss of form of most of their stars their strenght has diminished somewhat. they would still have a good team probably looking like this: Greyling, Rallapele, Kruger/Van der Merwe, Flip/Willemse, Juandre Kruger (if he is avaliable)/Steenkamp, Arno Botha, Jacques Potgieter, Dewald Potgieter/Pierre Spies, Hougaard, Steyn, Ndugane, Wynand Olivier, Engelbrecht, Basson, Kirchner. The Bulls are still a very strong team and can make the playoffs if the majority of the team stay fit. The Bulls will mis CJ Stander who was a big cog in their team last year and with the loss of Morne Steyn’s form they will have a few headache’s.

The Cheetahs, well I say this every year, they are capable of getting to the playoffs and this year they have their strongest squad to date. The Cheetahs has depth this year and could well be a suprise package if they play the gameplan that suits them and not try to play a different “kicking” gameplan at the start of the year that is usual. The Cheetahs line up may look like this: Nyakane, Strauss, Coenie, Ferreira, Martin Muller, Heinrich Brüssouw, Lappies Labushagne/Frans Viljoen, Van der Walt, Van Zyl, Goosen, Le Roux, Ebersohn, Sadie, Rhule, Daniller. The Cheetahs has a backline to rip teams apart and if they can fix their defence they might get to the playoffs and with the possible return of Juan Smith it could bode well for the central team. 

The Kings, well their first season of supeRugby. As they could not even get into the Currie cup last year they will get a big shock in their first game. The Kings are wooden spoon contenders for sure and realistically should be setting their sights on winning one or two games. The Kings team could look like this: Jaco Engles, Bandise Maku, Ross Geldenhuys, Sykes, Bulbring, Oosthuizen,Leonardi, Watson, Vergallo, Catrakillis, Sampson, Andries Strauss, Ronnie Cooke, Michael Killian, SP Marais.

Maybe 2013 the final log will look like this.

1. Stormers

2. Chiefs 

3. Brumbies

4. Sharks

5. Crusaders

6. Bulls

7. Hurricanes

8. Reds

9. Cheetahs

10. Higlanders

11. Waratahs

12. Blues

13. Rebels

14. Force

15. Kings

Promotion relegation

The Free State Cheetahs lost on the weekend against a very good WP side beating the Cheetahs in every facet of the game and making them look like a first division side for most of the game. However the Cheetahs did have their chances to make the semi’s this year.

The Cheetahs lost against the Sharks in Durban, in a game which they should have won, leading with 10+ points with ten minutes to go. At the end that 3 points cost the Cheetahs dearly and with a few other games that they could not close out they are playing in the promotion-relegation match.

The Cheetahs are suffering from a lot of injuries, which was detrimental to their campaign. These are:

Coenie Oosthuizen (Neck/Back)

Johan Goosen (Shoulder/Knee)

Heinrich Brüssouw (Shoulder)

Boom Prinsloo (Shoulder)

Lappies Labuschagne (Back)

Trevor Nyakane (Not sure)

Frans Viljoen (Arm)

Kabamba Floors

Riaan Smit (Shoulder)

Piet Van Zyl (Collar Bone)

Juan Smith

Out of this players, 8 is regular starters, with our best 5 players (Coenie, Van Zyl, Goosen, Brüssouw and Juan) in the Super competition out for extended periods. Thus the Cheetahs are looking a bit toothless. But the Cheetahs side is better than 6th place on the log and only winning 3 times.

The main problems for the Cheetahs is Naka Drotske who is not a coach but rather a friend of the players and he does not bring out the best in the players due to that. Under Naka the Cheetahs have not grown and are still making the same mistakes since he has taken over from Rassie. People would argue that Naka did win us the Currie Cup in 2007 but that was still due to Rassie and what he did at the union. The Cheetahs have said that they are losing games that they should be winning and are going to work on it but the next season it happens again. This tells me that the coaching staff is the problem and not the players. Naka is not strict enough and the Cheetah team is not proffesional enough to become a top union fighting out for trophies.

The other problem for the Cheetahs is that they still buy players too fill voids, these signings are usually players that could stand their ground at provincial level but will never become a bok. This is apparent with most of their signings. Players like Willie Le Roux, Marnus Schoeman, Francois Brummer, JC Roos etc are not seen by the Cheetahs and not offered contracts. These players have the potential to become Boks. The Cheetahs then buys Elgar Watts, Cornal Hendricks and get a guy like Phillip Burger back when his best years are in the past. Another question is why bring Hendro Scholtz back? We have a U21 side with players like Elandre Hugget playing out of their skin.

The management of the Cheetahs is still running the team as a smaller union thus the team will never reach their potential. If that was the case the Cheetahs could have had a team like this. Frans Steyn, Benjamin, Ebersohn, Jordaan (Paul), Rhule, Goosen, Van Zyl (Pienaar), Duanne Vermeulen, Smith, Brüssouw, Flip vd Merwe, Andries Ferreira, WP Nel, Adriaan Strauss, Coenie Oosthuizen. With a bench like R. Strauss, M, vd Merwe, VD Westhuizen, Van Der Walt, S. Pretorius, R. Smit, J. Serfontein.

Although that team is a fantasy team, the team could well have looked something like that if the union did not regard itself as a small union and had a coach that had the backing of the players. The good players won’t stay at the Cheetahs as long as they can’t see them growing to become a big union itself.

The FSRU asked the public to send them comments and questions and they will come back to them, this is what I sent to them.

Middag

 Ek wil net graag ‘n paar dingetjies wat my pla uitlig.

 Eerstens ons het drie keer die currie-beker gewen in moderne rugby, 2005 tot 2007, maar in plaas van om te verbeter en regtig ‘n krag te word het ons gestagneer en nie die krag geword wat ons in staat is nie. Sedert Naka oorgeneem het maak ons nogsteeds dieselfde foute jaar by jaar en ons kan nogsteeds nie wedstryde wat ons moet wen deurtrek nie.  Daar word jaar in jaar uit daarna verwys en daarna “gewerk”, maar dis nou al hoe lank en ons kan dit nogsteeds nie doen nie. Ons groei glad nie as ‘n span nie!

 Ons speel in ‘n professionele era en ons spelers is goed genoeg om semi’s in super rugby en in curriebeker vlak te maak.

 Ons het die kans gehad om goeie jong spelers ook te koop soos bv Willie Le Roux, Jannie Boshoff maar  Griekwas het hul gekoop, waarom sien ons hom nie? Nou koop ons Elgar Watts en Cornal Hendriks wat op hul beste net provinsiale rugby gaan speel, maar ‘n ou soos Willie Le Roux het Bok potensiaal. Ons koop heeltemal verkeerd, in plaas van om ouens te koop wat ‘n Bok kan word koop ons liewer ‘n ou wat goed is op provinsiale vlak maar nie verder sal gaan nie.

 Sedert Naka oorgeneem het as afrigter het ons ‘n wen persentasie van in die 30%, en dit is verseker nie goed genoeg in ‘n professionele era nie. Daar moet gekyk word hierna asook na ons “aankoop” proses. Ek wil ‘n pluimpie gee met die aankoop van Sadie, dink dit is ‘n goeie skuif.

 ‘n idée, ek sal graag wil sien dat ons vir Hennie Daniller binnesenter toe skuif. My rede hiervoor is dat Hennie ‘n uitstekende one-on-one verdediger is maar hy is nie meer vinnig genoeg as heelagter nie en hy word maklik “gebeat”.  Hennie is egter baie sterk en maak die lyn reguit, hy hou ook 2-3 verdedigers besig elke keer as hy in die lyn kom. As hy binnesenter speel kan hy die lyn reguit maak, verdedigers trek en offload en dan ‘n “overlap” bewerkstellig. Dus sal hy dus soos Jamie Roberts wat vir Wallis speel vir ons wees. Ons het genoeg spelers om heelagter te speel wat goed genoeg is, Riaan Smit, Willie Le Roux, Nico Scheepers. Op binnesenter kort ons daardie persoon wat sterk is op verdediging maar wat ook die opposisie nagmerries sal veroorsaak.

 Laastens, ons span begin elke jaar met ‘n spelpatroon wat baie met die voorry te doen het en verloor. Sodra ons terug skuif na hardloop rugby wen ons en is weer kompeterend.

 Vriendelike Groete

 

To conclude, I hope that the Cheetahs will start having a management that will take the union further. A coach that will have the respect of the players and a guy that can stand his ground. And lastly a better scouting team which will get players that will actually be good enough to play for the boks!

Cheetah update

Its been a while. The boks did well on the weekend, but they should’ve taken the AB’s!

On the currie cup front the Lions demolished the cheetahs, Sharks were helped by the stormers indiscipline and the Bulls are in deep bad stuff!

Taking nothing away from the lions and how they are playing now, they are really in good shape and must be favourites to win, but something at the Cheetahs needs to be done quickly before we end up playing promotion relegation.

We have a long list of injuries, including the likes of Riaan Smit, Juan Smith, Boom Prinsloo, Piet van Zyl, Kabamba Floors and untill this week Coenie Oosthuizen and Phillip vd Walt. All of these guys are Super15 players and will make a massive difference.

This week against the bulls Oosthuizen and Vd Walt are returning and will definately add some much needed spark to the team. Naka also made a positional move by moving Robert Ebersohn to inside centre and Raymond Rhule to outside, this could well be a masterstroke, keeping in mind Johann Sadie will probably be the outside centre next year. This could get Robert Ebersohn used to playing inside. Personally I think we need a new fullback, Hennie Daniller is a good player and a good defender as well but he is too slow and is easily stepped by faster players in the last line. I would love to see him playing inside centre, kind of Jamie Roberts type, where Hennie runs straight gets over the advantage line and having Robert running on his shoulder. Then moving Scheepers to Fullback and playing Rhule and Benjamin on the wings.

So I would love to see the Cheetahs line up looking like this:

15. Nico Scheepers 14. Rayno Benjamin 13. Robert Ebersohn 12. Hennie Daniller 11. Raymond Rhule 10. Tewis De Bruyn 9. Sarel Pretoruis 8. Phillip vd Walt 7. Lappies Labuschagne 6. Heinrich Brüssouw 5. Izak vd Westhuizen 4. Francois Uys 3. Coenie Oosthuizen 2. Hercu Liebenberg 1. Marcel vd Merwe

Instead the run on team is: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Nico Scheepers, 13 Robert Ebersohn (captain), 12 Raymond Rhule, 11 Rayno Benjamin, 10 Tewis de Bruyn, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagn, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Francois Uys, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Marcel van der Merwe.

Substitutes: 16 Elandre Huggett, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Carl Wegner, 19 Hendro Scholtz, 20 Sias Ebersohn, 21 Philip Snyman, 22 Andries Strauss

Getting Rhule closer to the ball is a good idea and could be very dangerous in the midfield.

Its a must win for the Cheetahs!

My Bok team

My Bok team or Dream team (second in line in brackets)

15. Lambie (he showed on Saturday why he is our best 15) (Taute)

14. Hougaard (his defence is better than Basson and Mvovo but Aplon may have a shout in my team)

13. Jacque Fourie (next best JDV or Juan de Jongh)

12. Frans Steyn (next best JDV or Juan de Jongh)

11. Habana (Willie Le Roux)

10. Goosen (in 10 minutes he had done everything Steyn did in a year and more) (Jantjies)

9. Piet Van Zyl (Ja hes young but he and Goosen makes a very good partnership, and he can tackle and take a gap) (Super Sarel)

8. Vermeulen (Kankowski)

7. Schalk Burger(Marcelle Coetzee)

6. Heinrich Brüssouw (He is class, he will at least slow the oppositions ball down, tackle for 85minutes and takes the ball up, Flo did nothing in his 20minutes) (No one)

5. Juandre Kruger (I think he is a good prospect just needs to mature a bit) (Flip sad to say)

4. Etzebeth (Really like the look of Andries Ferreira)

3. WP Nel (Best player never to play for the Boks) (Jannie)

2. Bismarck (Adriaan)

1. Coenie Oosthuizen (Beast)

No fetcher against the top teams for Boks = Lose!

I’ve read a few articles and suddenly the idea of a fetcher has gone out of the window. Guys want to play 2-3 of the same type of players in the loose trio, for example Schalk (he hasn’t won balls for a long time now, he is now more like a ball carrier), Alberts, Coetzee?

These guys are all good in their own right but who is going to win the ball for us and be first at the breakdowns to clean etc?

How are we going to nullify the threat of Macaw and Read for the AB’s and Pocock for the Aussies?

To be frank we are getting hammered at the breakdowns against the Argies? I mean come on we should win every aspect against them. Although we won against the English, we also did not win the breakdowns and bismarck was in the team.

We can’t just depend on bismarck, we need a special player there in the Macaw and Pocock mould, that is if we want to still be in the top 3 national sides in the world.

The guy that should be ‘n shoo in the bok squad should be Heinrich Brussouw, if he is injured we could get flo back. Heinrich has worked a lot on his ball carrier ability and does his fair share of carries. He is fast to the breakdown and clears a lot of rucks. He wins balls on the ground and has even started to jump in the lineouts? Tell me which other loosies can do all that? And now we have a guy like jacques potgieter and his only job is to be a headless chicken and run into people!

By the way Heinrich should be fit in two weeks time, that leaves him two weeks currie cup games and then the AB’s were he will be needed the most![subscribe2]

Looks like Heyneke Meyer is starting to blind the fans as well with his selections and beliefs.

If we want to win against the AB’s and Aussies we need to win the breakdowns. The AB’s will kill us on counter attacks and since we don’t have the gameplan to score tries we won’t be able to play catch up!

Review of the Weeks rugby and looking ahead!

The weekend produced some good and bad rugby but the ugly goes to SARU yet again!

I think everyone is getting gatvol of this issue and it is actually very interesting that the ballot was 6 for the lions against the 23 of the Kings.I guessed the smaller unions would’ve voted with their bigger cousins but it seemed it did not happen and since the Pumas and  leopards are in a arbitration battle against the lions. My question is then who voted for the lions?  (thanx patrick and baylion for the info)

I just want to say its ridiculous that the Kings are in Super Rugby and did not play and win to get there. It is probably the reason why our country is in such a shambles. Ironically it is the same thing or more or less that is happening at the lonmin mine, everyone just want everything to be given without earning it.

Back to the rugby, it was a good weekend for the Cheetahs who beat the Bulls convincingly. The Bulls will have a few headaches and maybe some worrying nights due to the sighting commissioner especially on Werner Kruger.

The Bulls where lucky the score was not more , their first try should never have been due to a high tackle from CJ Stander on Sarel Pretorius at the previous play and then the controversial non allowed try of Sarel Pretorius at the end. Sarel was not held and it was a try, he did not need to let the ball go on the ground.

Andries Ferreira played magnificent as did Frans Viljoen and Kabamba Floors while the young Raymond Rhule is also a superstar in the making. If the Cheetahs can keep him with Goosen and the likes of Van Zyl for the next couple of years we may see a Cheetahs outfit vying for Semi-finals in Super rugby in the near future.

Riaan Smit was deadly with the boot and he contributed 19 points. He did not miss a kick and put extra pressure on the bulls to not make mistakes in his range. His injury will be a massive setback for the cheetahs.

For the Bulls CJ Stander played a lone hand, how the Bulls let him go doesn’t make any sense to me. This guy should’ve been in the Bok setup and should have played on the weekend in the green and gold. Elsewhere Willie Wepener was a nuisance but he did concede a lot of penalties while Ulrich Beyers impressed me at outside centre, he got over the advantage line constantly and although did not break the line he was difficult to get down.

The Cheetahs win comes at a good time with Johan Goosen probably coming back this week and Heinrich Brussouw and Coenie Oosthuizen the next. Bad news however is the injuries to Piet van Zyl and Riaan Smit, Both will be out for about 8 weeks and will be sorely missed.

The Kwas played a solid game but WP were just too good, for me the difference was Marcell Brache (and WP’s defence), he’s decision making and all round skill is top class. JP du Plessis is also a serious talent, big, strong, good on his feet and a good defender. Duanne Vermeulen is not up to his best yet but he will get there. He needs to be managed in. Live-wire Deon Fourie played his heart out as usual.

For the Kwas, there were a few guys that stood out, Wilkins, landman and Brummer, but they missed Willie Le Roux quite a lot. I would like to keep Brummer at fullback and play Willie at flyhalf, he needs to get more of the ball to make things happen for the kwas. They looked flat feeted and did not seem to have someone who can get them over the advantage line, although they had more possession they were tackled back and lost momentum in the tackles.

The Sharks were too good for the Lions, who came from an impressive showing against the Cheetahs. Although I won’t take a lot from that win due to the Cheetahs being slow starters.

The Lions looked a far cry from the team from last week and I wonder if the midweek news did not unsettle them. These guys are a far better team, but they did not play like they could. Credit to the Sharks who did put them under pressure and played a more structured game, but they would kick themselves for not picking up the bonus point.

For the Sharks there was numerous players that stood out but most notably was Riaan Viljoen after he went off for his concussion test, Meyer Bosman (he played his best game in the Sharks jersey and was impressive with the boot) and Craig Burden who is like a fast Deon Fourie. Jean Deysel also played well and deserves a mention.

For the Lions Warren Whiteley stood out with his strong runs and impressive work rate while Henrik Roodt stood out for all the wrong reasons.

All in all I think we are getting a clearer picture of the teams and how they match against each other, I think the Sharks, Lions and Cheetahs are the top 3 and with the Cheetahs getting their boks back in the following few weeks they could become a very dangerous side.

Going to the Rugby Championship, the All Blacks played well and were deserved winners over the Aussies. I predicted a heavier loss for the Aussies. I did not watch the game so I won’t comment further.

The Boks played a good game, not spectacular but a good enough start to their campaign. HM said afterwards he is a very difficult guy to please and their is a lot that needs to be better cone the AB’s! However there is some selections that doesn’t warrant their inclusion in the team and thus he is probably to fault for being difficult to please!

The Boks should have got a bonus point for 4 tries and they had the chances but where unable to use them but in their defence I must say the Argies did play some negative rugby and were lucky to escape without a yellow card in the match.

Morne Steyn played superbly well and he will make it difficult for the young Goose to play in this years championship if he continues to play like he did. I feel that the injury to Goosen will prevent him from playing for the Boks this year already he still needs to show that he can back up what he did in Super rugby in the CC, but we will be watching him closely in the coming weeks.

Mvovo, Bekker, Marcell Coetzee and Willem Alberts all played well, while the likes of JDV and Frans Steyn were quiet for a change.

The injury to Bismarck is a big blow to our chances of winning the Championship, but Adriaan showed he is good enough to start, but our back up is starting to look a bit thin. Tiaan Liebenberg is good but not in the same class as Bissie, Adriaan or Chilli.

I would also like to see CJ Stander in the mix for the Boks, with his speed and power he would be a big asset at number 8. If JJ Engelbrecht is there why not CJ?

The following few weeks will be interesting in the CC with a lot of big clashes with the Central derby between the Cheetahs and the Kwas and the derby between the Sharks and Bulls to be the highlights for me.

This weeks fixtures are:

Saturday

NZ vs Aus

Kwas vs Cheetahs

Lions vs WP

Bulls vs Sharks

Boks vs Arg

Cant wait for the weekend!

Just my thoughts on the weekend

Crusaders vs Chiefs

This game should be the game of the weekend, both teams are really good rounded with a lot of game breakers.

Clashes to watch out for:

Ellis vs Kerr-Barlow

Carter Vs Cruden

SBW vs Crotty

I think this battles will determine the outcome IF the Chiefs are more competitive at the scrums and lineouts. They were playing of scraps the last game and their forwards were outplayed by the Saders’. The Saders will mis Kieran Read but I think he won’t be missed too much.

The Chiefs would want to keep up with the Crusaders and don’t let them score in the opening 20min or so. We all know how dangerous the Saders are if you need to play catch up against them.

Close game could go either way, Chiefs at home but they lost their last 2 games. Saders more physical and street smart.

Saders by 3 to 7

Stormers vs Sharks

Well this will be an interesting game. I think the Stormers have been good but comes off a bye and their last two league games were dodgy to say the least.

The Sharks are in impressive form, they look hungrier everytime they go onto the pitch. The forwards does all the hard work with Bressler at the forefront and give great ball to their backline were Michalak directs play brilliantly.

I’ve been told that the following argument has nothing to stand on but here goes:

The stormers have struggled in the scrums against various teams this year (Saders, Lions, Sharks, Cheetahs to name a few) while they play against the bok front row.

The last game between the sides the Lineouts were very even and for a while the Sharks even dominated.

Kankowski vs Fourie, Kanko seems to be a lot more physical and his strength has improved drastically. Fourie should be no match form him. On the ground Fourie would compete with Bismarck and in lesser extent Marcelle Coetzee.

Kolisi vs Coetzee, Kolisi’s form has dipped a bit but since Coetzee became a bok he’s been playing like one. Still good match up but Coetzee’s offloads are very dangerous and something the stormers should watch. Kolisi on the other hand doesn’t offload much.

Daniel vs Elstadt, two different players at 7. Elstadt would probably go head to head with Alberts in the physicality department who will be playing 4. They both do more or less the same but Elstadt does not gain as much momentum as Alberts.

Alberts, Bismarck, Kanko, Coetzee etc are all very dangerous ball carriers with good hand offs. This will make the stormers defence more crucial. Add the pace of Daniel and you have a potent attack around the breakdowns and fringes.

The Stormers with Bekker, Etzebeth and Elstadt should hold off the challenge from the Sharks (Bressler, Alberts, Kanko, Daniels) at lineout time, but last time these two sides met it was a big tussle.

Bekker have the edge in all departments over bresler, and Etzebeth will be competing against Alberts in most areas.

Mcleod will have the edge on duvenhage.

Both Bash and Michalak have been consistant throughout the season. I know a lot of stormers hoping he would have a bad game because he is a frenchman, but he has been playing great rugby and I won’t bet on that.

Bosman vs JDV interesting match up, Bosman plays so inconsistant one never knows when he will be a hero but he can be. JDV should however win that battle.

JDJ vs Tim Whitehead, Whitehead should win that one, very good prospect.

Outside backs very evenly matched maybe Louis Ludick may just be found lacking against Pietersen.

All in all a good tussle awaits but the Sharks have been extremely impressive the past weeks and have peaked at the right time. The Sharks bench is way better than that of the Stormers and it could just be the difference in the end.

Sharks by 2-5