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
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.