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2013 Currie Cup Preview – Round 1

August 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

Super Rugby is over and the Currie Cup Premier Division kicks off this weekend with the various teams looking at the Currie Cup to achieve different objectives. The Sharks have a good mix of experience and youth while the Blue Bulls and WP are looking to develop more of their youngsters, the Blue Bulls especially considering their investment in recent years in build a base with wome of the most ta;ented youngsters from around the country. The Golden Lions will look to build their squad for 2014 and the Cheetahs will want to consolidate on their successful Super Rugby campaign with the Griquas the odd one out, they want to beat the better teams and be in contension for the cup.

Fri, 09 August: Sharks v Griquas – SAST: 19h10

The Sharks will be missing a number of key players from their Super Rugby team when they take on Griquas in Durban but they will still be able to push a good side on the field. Griquas have some of their Super Rugby players back from the Cheetahs and their tight five looks solid but it’s at the back where they don’t offer too much to scare the Sharks.

The Sharks will miss their Bok front row and will have a new lock combination with Marco Wentzel joining them but their loosies are tried and trusted so too their scrumhalves but it’s at the back where there is a new and exciting look with Louis Ludik having shown he’s a good #13 in the making and Tim Whitehead back and the big issue will be whether they can get their new backline going.

Sharks by 9

The Sharks: 15. Odwa Ndungane, 14. Sizo Maseko, 13. Louis Ludik, 12. Tim Whitehead, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Butch James, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Keegan Daniel (Captain) , 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Brynard Stander, 5. Marco Wentzel, 4. Edwin Hewitt, 3. Wiehahn Herbst, 2. Kyle Cooper, 1. Dale Chadwick
Replacements: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Rayno Gerber, 18. Peet Marais, 19. Tera Mtembu, 20. Cobus Reinach, 21. Fred Zeilinga, 22. Jaco van Tonder

Griquas: 15 Gouws Prinsloo, 14 Nico Scheepers, 13 JP Nel, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 PJ Vermeulen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Jacques Coetzee, 8 Burger Schoeman, 7 Jaco Nepgen, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Ligtoring Landman, 4 Hilton Lobberts, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Ryno Barnes (captain), 1 Steph Roberts
Replacements: 16 Matt Dobson, 17 Nick Schonert, 18 Jonathan Adendorf, 19 Carel Greeff, 20 Marnus Hugo, 21 Du Randt Gerber, 22 Rocco Jansen

Sat, 10 August: Golden Lions v FS Cheetahs – SAST: 15h00

With their Super Rugby status back in the bag the Golden Lions face their first hurdle in their effort to rebuild a team for next year when they face the Cheetahs at home. The Cheetahs may be without their Boks and without the Griquas Super Rugby players but they still have enough experienced players to make it very tough for the Lions.

The Lions will be without a number of players who played the Kings the last two weeks and especially the forwards have been affected. JC Janse van Rensburg (France), Hendrik Roodt (France), Franco van der Merwe (Boks, Warren Whiteley (finger), Robbie Coetzee (ribs), Julian Redelinghuys (thumb), Ross Cronje (hamstring) and Deon van Rensburg (leg) are all missing from their last game and they are down to their #4 scrumhalf, the converted flyhalf Guy Cronje, and short on props while the bulk of the Cheetahs starting 15 are coming from a successful Super Rugby campaign and they should not stumble against a depleted Lions team.

Cheetahs by 10
(Went for the Lions by 5 on Superbru but that was an illconsidered mistake)

Golden Lions: 15.Chrysander Botha, 14.Deon Helberg, 13.Stokkies Hanekom, 12.Dylan des Fountain, 11.Anthony Volmink, 10.Marnitz Boshoff, 9.Guy Cronje, 8.Willie Britz, 7.Warwick Tecklenburg, 6.Derick Minnie (c), 5.Hugo Kloppers, 4.Stephan Greeff, 3.Ruan Dreyer, 2.Martin Bezuidenhout, 1.Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16.Francois du Toit, 17.CJ van der Linde, 18.Lambert Groenewald, 19.Jaco Kriel, 20.Tian Meyer, 21.Elton Jantjies, 22.Lionel Cronje/Robert de Bruyn

Free State Cheetahs – 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Riaan Smit, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Boom Prinsloo (c), 5 Waltie Vermeulen, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 John-Roy Jenkinson, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Subs: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 Teboho Mohoje, 19 Davon Raubenheimer, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Joubert Engelbrecht, 22 Piet Lindeque.

Sat, 10 August: Western Province v Blue Bulls – SAST: 17h05

Giving only Eben Etzebeth to the Boks in the forwards the WP forward pack should be close to their Super Rugby pack but their backline outside Gary van Aswegen, as well as on the bench, will be new and it will be interesting to see how Bok u/20 and Blitsbok Cheslin Kolbe steps up to real senior rugby.

The Blue Bulls have problems. They lost a number of players to the Boks as well as to foreign shores and their forwards have been below par during Super Rugby. WP may not have the strongest pack but they have all played together for a while now and I do not think the Blue Bulls will have enough up front to bother them while at the back the battle between two rookie lineups may be up for grabs and the WP halfback pair’s superior experience should take the game away from the Bulls.

WP by 6

WP: 15. Gio Aplon, 14. Gerhard van den Heever, 13. Pat Howard, 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Cheslin Kolbe, 10. Gary van Aswegen, 9. Louis Schreuder (vice-captain), 8. Nizaam Carr, 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 6. Deon Fourie (captain), 5. De Kock Steenkamp, 4. Gerbrandt Grobler, 3. Brok Harris, 2. Scarra Ntubeni, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16. Alistair Vermaak, 17. Pat Cilliers, 18. Michael Rhodes, 19. Ruan Kitshoff, 20. Nic Groom, 21. Kurt Coleman, 22. Berton Klaasen

Blue Bulls: 15. Jürgen Visser , 14. Sampie Mastriet , 13. Ulrich Beyers , 12. Francois Venter , 11. Travis Ismaiel, 10. Tony Jantjies, 9. Rudy Paige , 8. Jono Ross(c), 7. Jacques du Plessis, 6. Wiaan Liebenberg, 5. Grant Hattingh, 4. Paul Willemse, 3. Frik Kirsten , 2. Willie Wepener, 1. Morné Mellet
Replacements: 16. Callie Visagie , 17. Marcell van der Merwe , 18. Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19. Jean Cook , 20. Ruan Snyman , 21. Waylon Murray , 22. Clayton Blommetjies.

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Lions vs Blue Bulls – Gauteng Rugby Cup at Orlando Stadium

January 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

In a match to commemorate the first match of the Blue Bulls (then Northern Tranvaal) against the Lions (then Transvaal) in 1938 the Lions and Blue Bulls will play for the Gauteng Rugby Cup as part of the Gauteng Sports Challenge at Orlando Stadium on Saturday, 2 February at 15h00.

With a number of their senior players out with injury the Blue Bulls named a predominantly young but seriously talented side to take on Lions the trans-Jukskei clash. The team is loaded with players who played for the u/20 Boks in recent years, 13 to exact. Most of these players should get some game time during this year’s Super Rugby season but hardly any can be seen as first choice players.

Up front I think they will struggle in the scrums but the main interest must be the centre pairing of Serfontein and Mapoe, that is if Louis Fouche can find some way to make use of their skills.

The contest between Fouche and Lionel Cronje (the Bulls discard) will also be interesting to watch. Can Cronje replicate his performance against the Cheetahs an put in a smile-wiper of a performance against his former team-mates?

With all this talent facing them, and the fact that they are playing their Gauteng neighbours, I expect that the Lions will name the best available side.


15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert , 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg(c).

Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 JJ Breet, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Lionel Cronje, 22 Ruhan Nel


Blue Bulls:

15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Travis Ismaiel (2012), 13 Lionel Mapoe (2008), 12 Jan Serfontein (2012), 11 Sampie Mastriet (2009), 10 Louis Fouchè, 9 Jano Vermaak (v/c), 8 Arno Botha (2011), 7 Jean Cook (2011), 6 Deon Stegmann (c), 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse (2012), 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Juan Schoeman (2011)

Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi (2011), 17 Hencus van Wyk, 18 Wiaan Liebenberg (2012), 19 Cornell Hess (2009), 20 Ruan Snyman, 21 Handrè Pollard (2012), 22 Ulrich Beyers (2011), 23 Jacques du Plessis (SA Schools – 2011)

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Semi final refs – the stats

October 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

Interesting stats I picked up in a Sharksworld comment. (I haven’t checked these stats). We love to think that certain refs hate our teams but perception isn’t always the truth.

Lions vs WP (Marius Jonker):

Since 2003, Jonker has reffed the Lions in 15 Currie Cup games, which they won 7. Of these 15 games, seven were at home (won four) and eight were away (won three).

Jonker reffing province is similar, 15 Currie cup games, province won seven. Five were home games (won four) and 10 were away(won three)

Interestingly, Jonker has reffed five Lions/province Currie Cup games, and the Lions have won four of those, the only province win coming in week 6, 2011.

In the last 10 years of Currie Cup, Lions have played province 21 times, Lions winning 11 of those, and province winning nine. There was one draw, back in 2003, at Ellis Park.

Of those 21 games, 11 were in Joburg, Lions won nine. province have only won once in Joburg in the last 10 years, week three of 2005, by 38-23. Lions have beaten province twice in cape town in the last ten years, this year, 22-9, and in 2004 by 35-26.

The one time we (the Lions) lost to province with Jonker as a ref was in cape town last year, by 26-28.

Sharks vs Bulls (Mark Lawrence):

Mark Lawrence in charge of a sharks/bulls game reveals the following:

Lawrence has reffed the sharks 25 times in Currie cup in the last ten years, of which they won 17! 11 were at home(won 9) and 14 away(won 8). He has reffed the bulls 23 times in the same period, of which they won 15. Eight were at home(won 7) and 15 away(won 8).

Lawrence handling a sharks/bulls encounter, sharks won five, and bulls one, the only bulls win coming at durban in 2006. 2007,2008,2009 and this year in durban were won by the sharks, as was 2011 in pretoria.

In ten years of currie cup action, sharks have met bulls 21 times, winning 13, with eight going the way of the bulls. Of these 21 games, 11 were played in durban, with the sharks prevailing nine times. The two blots on the record books are the 2006 Lawrence game(32-50), as well as in 2004(23-27).

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And then there were four

October 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

The Currie Cup competition is into its final stages. Only four teams remain to fight it out for the top spot and only one team with no further interest in the competition. The Sharks, Golden Lions, WP and the Blue Bulls made it through to the semi finals while the Cheetahs has to face the Kings in promotion/relegation matches. The Griquas can put their feet up and watch the remaining matches from the sidelines.

Sharks vs Blue Bulls:

In one semi final the Sharks play host to the Blue Bulls in Durban. The Sharks had the luxury of resting some of their key players in their last match, assured of a home semi final while the Blue Bulls had to pull out all stops to avoid the relegation zone and were helped by a Lions team that imploded in the last quarter.

On the face of it it should be a relatively comfortable win for the Sharks but the record books show that the Blue Bulls can never be taken lightly in the knock out stages of the Currie Cup. Of the 17 semi finals the Sharks contested they only managed to win eight while the Blue Bulls have won 13 of the 16 they contested. That said, however, the Blue Bulls last beat the Sharks in Durnban in 2006.

So while the Sharks will call on the players they rested to strengthen their side the match will probably be a close one and, depending on the weather, could be decided by the boot.

There are some mouth watering matchups to look forward to. Up front

  • in the front row it will be Bok props vs discarded Bok bench props
  • a good second row faces the Bok second choice second row
  • in the back row we’ll probably see an all Bok backrow take on some serious young talent

And in the backline we have

  • the two form scrumhalves of the competition doing battle
  • behind them it is Bok #10 vs ignored Bok #10/15
  • some of the best young midfield players facing up
  • four Bok wings doing battle
  • the form fullback facing the incumbent Bok fullback

This match have the ingredients to be a great match but we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out.

Personally I’m going with a Sharks win but won’t be surprised if the Blue Bulls get their mojo back.

Golden Lions vs WP:

Last weekend the Lions, resting some key players, imploded in the last quarter against the Blue Bulls while WP, fielding their strongest available side, wiped the floor with the Cheetahs.

The Golden Lions face the most successful team in Currie Cup history, Western Province, in the other semi final but it is a WP side who last held a Currie Cup 11 years ago and have since been tagged as chokers and who will be desperate to change their recent record. Talking of history WP has won 13 out of the 18 semi finals they played while the Golden Lions have been less successful winning only eight out of 15 but the only time the two teams met in a semi final was last year and the Golden Lions won that encounter.

It remains to be seen if a full strength Lions side will be good enough to beat a full strength WP side but the matchups make for a good match.

Up front

  • one of the best frontrows in the country face up to some good youngsters
  • two war horses, young and old, do battle in the second row against a young Bok war horse
  • a couple of fetchers have to contend with a retreaded hooker/wing and the Bok number eight

And at the back

  • the Lions only scrumhalf match up to two in form youngsters
  • a Bok (young or old) face off against a young pretender
  • \a good journeyman and a rookie Bok to face two experienced Boks playing in their preferred positions
  • talented young wings do battle with a forgotten Bok and an unfulfilled talent
  • one of the finds of the year face a sometimes x-factor journeyman at fullback

On the day either side can take this match and both sides have something to prove, the Lions want to rub it in and WP wants some silverware. This makes the match a difficult one to predict and when it is a 50/50 decision I go with the Lions to win.

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A comedy of errors

October 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

It would have been funny if it wasn’t so frustrating. In the last 30 minutes or so, between the Lions playing festival rugby and a blind match TMO, they conspired to throw the game and gift the Bulls a win through a comedy of errors that one doesn’t expect on a rugby field full of professionals.

Going into the match I expected a Bulls victory with the Lions fielding a second string side but as the match progressed I started to look forward to an unexpected win. However, hopes were dashed when first the TMO ruled a blatant forward pass to be forward drift and later when the Lions managed to screw up a quick lineout throw on their own tryline and then threw away possession with a thoughtless and ill-executed slap pass.

Gifting the Bulls three tries, one from a forward pass everyone except the TMO saw and two from errors one might expect to see in a primary school match, the Lions managed ensure a much needed victory for the Bulls. All credit to the Bulls for taking their chances and converting them into points, and to Morne Steyn who kept the Bulls in the hunt through a good kicking display when the game threatened to run away from them.

While the result is meaningless in the context of the Lions log position the manner in which they eventually lost must set the alarm bells ringing. If they should play the semis with the same disregard for their possession they will lose next week.

Hopefully coach Johan Ackermann had just given them the day off from serious rugby, told them to blow out the cobwebs and will get them back on track this week. Maybe he was following last year’s script where the Lions were blown out of the water by the Sharks in the last league match too, before going on to beat WP and the Sharks.

On the positive side, even though they were intent on playing festival rugby the Lions more than held their own against a much more focused Bulls side and the Lions should feel comfortable about the semi-final on Saturday against WP, provided they regain their focus.

That said, I am still pissed off though.

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Currie Cup Crunch Time

October 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

There are no dead rubbers this weekend and even though the Sharks and the Lions are assured of home semi finals their game results will have an impact on all the other teams. Only two points separate the other four teams and losses would not only end their semi final hopes but also put them in a possible promotion/relegation play-off against the EP Kings.

While no-one really expects any of these teams to really lose against the Kings in a two match play-off series, although anything is possible, it is the ignomy of finishing last that will grate, especially for the full strength Super Rugby teams, the Blue Bulls and Western Province.

Sharks vs Griquas:

With the Lions accepting a Sharks win and selecting a weakened side for their game there is even less pressure on the Sharks where any result might just be good enough. The Sharks used there returning Boks sparingly but even so, a win by Griquas is only a remote possibility.

Sharks by 12

Western Province vs Cheetahs:

This is  a real crunch match with the winner probably in the semis and the loser probably in the bottom end play-offs so, at the risk of losing team cohesion, both sides pulled in all their Boks, more so WP as they have quite a few. The risk for WP is that the returning Boks may try to revert to the Stormers game while the rest of the team has been on another wavelength altogether. The Cheetahs will give it a good college try but will fall short in the end as their defences lets them down – again, but it will be a close match.

WP by 7

Lions vs Blue Bulls:

Even though the Lions are sitting comfortably in second spot this match will determine the fate of some of the other teams. It’s really simple: if the Bulls win, they will probably move into the semis with one of the other match losers dropping into the bottom spot to face the Kings, if the Bulls lose they will finish last. The danger for the Bulls is that they cannot afford to just rock up thinking the game is won against a young Lions side (only four of the starting 15 is over 25) as these youngsters would like nothing better than prove they are good enough. However, if all goes according to expectations the Bulls should win comfortably.

Bulls by 15

And all this sets up the semi finals:

Sharks vs Bulls – Durban
Lions vs WP – Johannesburg

First Division:

EP Kings vs Pumas:

Down in PE the EP Kings face the Pumas in the First Division finals. Neither of these sides could get the better of the other during the league stages playing to a draw twice so one can expect a tight match. The Pumas had a very inconsistent campaign while the Kings were unbeaten through the league phases but have lost their captain to injury making this a tough call.

However, home ground advantage and all, the Kings should pull it off to finally win a trophy but that’s really irrelevant as they will be playing for promotion to the Premier Division anyway.

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A Bullfight of some importance

October 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

This weekend’s most crucial match is probably the one between Western Province and the Cheetahs as the fortunes of the winner and the loser differ so widely, the loser may very well play in a promotion/relegation match and the winner will play in a semi-final match.

In the Sharks Griquas game the Sharks have very little to lose except maybe a potential home final while Griquas is also playing to stay out of the potential relegation zone.

Come Saturday night the Golden Lions will know exactly what they are playing for although it will always be a must win game for the Blue Bulls, no matter what happened elsewhere, as a loss will mean they face the Kings in a promotion/relegation contest.

If the Sharks beat the Griguas the Lions will stay in second place irrespective of the result. A loss or a draw by the Sharks means the Lions could still end top of the log if they beat the Bulls.

After a disappointing loss against the Griquas last weekend and with their players returning from the Bok squad coach Johan Ackermann has already hinted that he may rest some players for this match but will only announce his team later today. But if the Sharks lose on Friday the Lions may be faced with the need for a late reshuffle but they really just want to get through this match without any serious injuries while giving the returning players some game time to gel again with the rest of the team.

Off the field this week has been a positive week for the Lions, one of few this year. It was announced that a number of players extended their contracts, that some new blood has signed with the union and plans also seem to be progressing with plans for alternative matches next year, so the players should feel buoyed and upbeat as a home semi-final is already in the bag.

This is a difficult game to predict as it has all the feel of a practice match, for the Lions anyway, and one get the idea they just want a good run and have the players enjoy themselves. With little or no pressure on the players anything can happen, they can go out and beat the crap out of the Blue Bulls or they can unravel and get the crap beaten out of them. If last year’s last league match against the Sharks in Durban is anything to go by the latter seems to be the more probable scenario.

Therefore I’m going with the Blue Bulls by 10 20.

Golden Lions:
15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Deon van Rensburg, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach,11 Anthony Volminck, 10 Butch James (c), 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 CJ van der Linde.

Reserves: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Paul Willemse, 19 Warren Whiteley, 20 Whestley Moolman, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Lionel Mapoe.

Blue Bulls:
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Dewald Potgieter (captain), 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Juandré Kruger, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Morné Mellett.

Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 CJ Stander, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 Dean Greyling.

Last five years:

Lions: 4
Bulls: 5

@ Coca Cola Park:
Lions: 1
Bulls: 3

Vodacom Blue Bulls 23 – 32 MTN Golden Lions Loftus Versveld
MTN Golden Lions 18 – 21 Vodacom Blue Bulls Coca-Cola Park
Vodacom Blue Bulls 27 – 36 MTN Golden Lions Loftus Versfeld
Vodacom Blue Bulls 24 – 21 Xerox Lions Loftus Versfeld
Xerox Lions 18 – 32 Vodacom Blue Bulls Coca-Cola Park Stadium
Xerox Lions 20 – 13 Vodacom Blue Bulls Coca-Cola Park Stadium
Vodacom Blue Bulls 19 – 13 Xerox Lions Loftus Versfeld
Vodacom Blue Bulls 27 – 30 Xerox Lions Loftus Versfeld
Xerox Lions 7 – 21 Vodacom Blue Bulls Ellis Park
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Dixon’s red card – fair call

September 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

When is a kick in the face not a kick in the face? When a Sharks supporter looks at a Sharks player kicking an opponent in the face.

Sharks supporters are up in arms about the “shocking TMO bungle” after “hooker Pieter Dixon (was) red-carded for a completely unintentional boot to the head of a Bulls player”, to quote from the Sharkworld article.

This is not the first time that supporters of a team have been totally at odds with a ref or a TMO’s decision and with the expanded powers of the TMO comes even more moments of unhappiness as on-field incidents can now be referred, not only incidents during the scoring of a try.

Somehow rugby supporters seem to have the idea that an action must be deliberate for it to be penalised. If that was the case very few infringements would ever be penalised as most infringements are unintentional. The on-field decision, and the TMO’s for that matter, deals with whether an infringement took place or not and it is up to the citing commissioner and judicial officer to decide afterwards if it warrants further punishment.

Pieter Dixon’s kick:

From the video footage it is fairly clear that Dixon kicked as he was falling but, giving him the benefit of the doubt, he probably tried to kick at the ball but connected Arno Botha in the head instead. And it clearly was a kick – note the toe-down position of his foot as well as the straightening of the knee. Compare that with the toe-up position of the Bulls player in the fall.

For the video look 4:33 min:

Pieter Dixon's kickPieter Dixon's kick connect

Stupid? Yes.

Reckless? Definitely.

Dangerous? Absolutely.

The TMO’s decision to confirm a red card, which Mark Lawrence already indicated should be the punishment, was not for Dixon kicking Botha in the face on purpose, it was for reckless and dangerous play, unintentional or not. For his stupidity the judicial officer might add a ban to Dixon’s punishment .

Ironically, the Bulls would probably have preferred not to get a penalty at that point as they had the upper hand on the Sharks’ tryline and were in a good position to score a try.

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Blue Bulls vs Golden Lions: Neighbours at war

September 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

Both sides come off unexpected losses, although the margin of the Bulls loss was more the surprise, and both sides will want to get back on track.

The Blue Bulls only made a few changes with Francois Venter coming back and Deon Stegmann out with an injury while the Lions features Jaco Taute on the bench, back after a long injury lay-off.

The Lions revert to most of their first choice players after starting the bench players against Griquas backfired miserably. With Hendrik Roodt back at lock Michael Rhodes will play off the bench while Willie Britz replaces injured Josh Strauss.

It is at the back where we see some weird changes to the Lions team with both wingers being dropped in favour of ex-Bull Deon Helberg and Ruan Combrink. Considering the pace Esterhuizen and Volminck gave us out wide and the fact that Volminck scored two tries last week this was a bit strange at first but apparently Volminck is not available as he is in the Cape for personal reasons. Another change see Butch James move to the bench to make way for a returning Alwyn Hollenbach.

The Lions pack should have the better of the Bulls come scrum time but the three youngsters in the Bulls pack, Hattingh, Tecklenburg and Stander, provide them with the mobility needed to counter the expected fast-paced game the Lions will want to play.

At the back the Bulls have a number of talented youngsters in Venter, Sadie, Blommetjies and Bok discard Engelbrecht while the old man Akona Ndugane is still playing good rugby and giving them too much ball and space to run will be a mistake. The Lions will definitely have to man up on defence out wide. Louis Fouche is starting to play the Bulls kicking game very well and the Lions cannot afford to concede kickable penalties.

It is time for the Lions players to set their off-the-field distractions aside and start to focus on the game and competition at hand. One can only excuse them for so long but now they need to show they are professionals and man up.

With the up-and-down performances so far from both sides it is virtually impossible to confidently predict a winner in this game. In contests between the Bulls and the Lions home ground advantage is fairly meaningless with the home side winning as often as the away side. Over the last few years the Bulls have won three and the Lions two of the last five games at Loftus. The games also tend to be close affairs with six of the last 10 games earning a bonus point for the losing side .

Anything is possible but because they are supposed to be the more settled side I’m going with the Lions to win by 6.

Sat, 8 Sept 2012 17:05
Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

Golden Lions (possible):

15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11cRuan Combrinck, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Willie Britz, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (capt.).

Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Michael Rhodes, 19 Jaco Kriel, 20 Ross Cronjé, 21 Butch James, 22 Jaco Taute


Blue Bulls:

15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 JJ Engelbrecht, 10 Louis Fouche, 9 Ruan Snyman, 8 Dewald Potgieter (captain), 7 CJ Stander, 6 Warwick Tecklenburg, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Dawie Steyn

Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Cornell Hess, 19 Jean Cook, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Lionel Cronje, 22 Jurgen Visser

Last five years:

MTN Golden Lions 18 – 21 Vodacom Blue Bulls Coca-Cola Park
Vodacom Blue Bulls 27 – 36 MTN Golden Lions Loftus Versfeld
Vodacom Blue Bulls 24 – 21 Xerox Lions Loftus Versfeld
Xerox Lions 18 – 32 Vodacom Blue Bulls Coca-Cola Park Stadium
Xerox Lions 20 – 13 Vodacom Blue Bulls Coca-Cola Park Stadium
Vodacom Blue Bulls 19 – 13 Xerox Lions Loftus Versfeld
Vodacom Blue Bulls 27 – 30 Xerox Lions Loftus Versfeld
Xerox Lions 7 – 21 Vodacom Blue Bulls Ellis Park
Golden Lions 27 – 22 Vodacom Blue Bulls Ellis Park
Vodacom Blue Bulls 25 – 11 Golden Lions Loftus Versfeld

Matches: 10 Blue Bulls 6 Lions 4
@Loftus: 5 Blue Bulls 3 Lions 2
Home/Away: Home 5 Away 5