Showdown in Bloem!

May 30, 2013 in Rugby, Rugby Championship, Springboks, Super Rugby

ebvserfAn epic battle awaits us this weekend as the two top form South African teams take each other on in Bloemfontein this Saturday.

It will be a battle for top honors in the SA Conference, as the winner of this match will most likely walk away with the top position in the SA log, getting apart from the much forgettable Conference Trophy, a most probably home semi final.

But it is not just the two teams that will battle each other for the SA Conference.  There are also a few mouthwatering personal battles to be fought in lieu of the Springbok side to take on Scotland, Italy and Samoa in June. Players who hope to impress Heyneke Meyer enough to get the nod ahead of their counterpart in the other team.

Perpahs one of the key match ups will be Ebersohn vs Serfontein.  Much hype has been going around about the young Serfontein, who was awarded the IRB Junior World Cup Player of the Tournament last year.  Still qualifying for the IRB Juniors, Serfontein has recently withdrawn from the Junior Bok squad, probably much in anticipation of senior Springbok selection, and likely some consultation with Heyneke Meyer and his coaching team.  He has been the preferred starter for the Bulls at inside centre during this year’s Super Rugby campaign, and has impressed most with his strong running.  Some do feel that the Bulls are not giving him the space to apply his own game while using him as a battering ram too much, but other feel he has an eye for space and given the limited space in modern Rugby, the battering ram role is often necessary to create such space. Be that as it may, that the kid has talents in spades is no secret, and he is certainly poised to make his senior Bok debut at the tender age of 20. 

Ebersohn on the other hand has been going about his business for several years now.  At only 24 years old, it seems he has been around for ages. He has climbed the ladder, from school, IRB Junior Championship, to Varsity Cup, to Springbok sevens, Vodacom Cup, Currie Cup and Super Rugby. He has been key in the Cheetahs rise to the top of the table and many will feel that with his time has come to don the Green and Gold, that he’s worked extremely hard for it, and that he deserves it.

But who will Meyer pick?  With Francois Steyn and Juan de Jongh injured, Meyer will be under pressure to make the choice of who will partner his Bok Captain, Jean de Villiers.  On top of that, it is unlikely that Jean de Villiers will be the Bok captain going to the World Cup in 2015, and even if he does, given his age and his likelihood of being ruled out before or during the World Cup, he will need a very strong backup for Jean.

Meyer, given his preference for brawn, may favour Serfontein ahead of the experienced Ebersohn.  Serfontein weighs in at 97kg’s, a daunting prospect for when he actually grows older, and measures at 187cm.  Ebersohn is a tad shorter at 180cm, but at 87kg’s, some might consider him too light for the Springbok squad.  Well, I have seen big men being bumped off by small men, and small men tackle big men, so in some instances, size may be overrated, and let it not be me who gets quoted as saying Ebersohn is too small.  I merely make reference to Meyer’s apparent preference for size.

At scrumhalf there is another juicy matchup, where Piet van Zyl will be out to prove his mettle against Francois Hougaard.  It should actually be the other way around, but being a Bull and a Springbok, Hougaard is surely the front runner in the race as backup scrumhalf to Jano Vermaak, who will likely be the Springbok’s starter scrumhalf, should Ruan Pienaar not return in time.

Hougaard’s form has been on the decline for some time now, and has never really settled into the scrumhalf position.  My opinion is that Frans Ludeke is giving the Cheetahs too much leeway by picking Hougaard in the starting lineup, a move that might just cost him in a very close encounter.

Piet van Zyl, however, has been very good since last year, clearing the ball quickly, deft little runs and near perfect passes to flyhalves who have changed three times already during the season. 

In the forwards, it will be Lappies Labuschagne against Arno Botha to show who deserves the spot more in the Bok camp, while Brussow will be out to show Meyer why he is making a huge mistake by ignoring him.  Phillip van der Walt will also be his ever present self, and in all likelihood will do his best to outshine Bulls captain Pierre Spies, also the incumbent Bok number 8. Unfortunately for van der Walt, he is not on Meyer’s watchlist as far is I can tell, and he can only give his fans something to reel about when once again he shows his class as a number 8 and not get considered for Bok honors.

All in all, this will serve to be a delicious desert after a 5 course meal of Super Rugby matchups. One that will in all likelihood be decisive in the future of a few key players, as well as where the Cheetahs and Bulls will find themselves come finals time.

Go Cheetahs!

Go Cheetahs!


15 responses to Showdown in Bloem!

  1. Can’t wait!! Going to Bloem for this one, RE vs JS! Hell yeah!! Lappies has to make Arno his bitch if he wants to don the Green and Gold!!


  2. powa said on May 30, 2013

    Tight phase dominance will be the winning strategy. Penalties will probably win the game. Brussow and Stegman (if he plays) had better watch it.

  3. Phil said on May 30, 2013

    Not many malls in Pretoria. Heh He!

  4. I think HM had something to do with Serfontein starting ahead of WO and don’t get me wrong as he is the better player but he was meant to go to the JWC.Again Botha has not been starting and suddenly in a crunch game he is ahead JP COINCIDENCE??I dont think so…HM wants to see who will come out on top and it then comes to the same conclusion when it comes to srumhalve as Jano has been the best in the country this year and tongues wagging about PVZ being snubbed for Hougie and he had to ask a favour from the bulls to start him.

  5. Attack? What attack? They hardly attacked against The Sharks. Only one try was scored in a Sharks vs Bulls derby. Cause for concern as far as I’m concerned. Kick and chase. That’s what they do best. As for The Sharks, they just played along. Kick,kick…..kick. Utter rubbish.

    • Devan, you sound like someone who visited a bar once while a game was on, heard the words kick and chase, and then stormed out telling the world you know everything there is about the game they play in heaven.

      The way I see it, attack is scoring points. If you do that more than the opposition often enough, then your attack is effective.

      The Waratahs, currently lying 8th, are second overall in terms of tries scored while the rebels, currently 12th on the log, have scored the third most tries overall.

      You surely don’t think that they are better at attacking than the Bulls?

      The Reds, with the mercurial Cooper and Genia running proceedings, have scored less tries than the Bulls and have played one match more, but everyone rants about their attacking prowess!

  6. I fully agree with you on Piet van Zyl (the non-ref basher) vs Hougaard. The latter looking more and more like a potential impact player that could play wing and maybe do a job at scrumhalf. Van Zyl is as close as we can get to a complete scrumhalf in Joost’s (yes, I said it) mold. He gives very good service to his flyhalves, has those beautiful sniping runs at pace and has worked on his kicking off the base of the scrum/ruck.
    The Brussouw/Flo and Ebersohn/Serfontein debates are all about size. Honestly, why do we need our 6 to jump in the lineouts if we already have two locks, the 8 and the 7 (hopefully lappies)? Look where complete set piece emphasis has brought the Stormers!

    • Look where set piece emphasis has brought the Bulls.

      • I think you are missing the “complete” there. The Bulls actually attack as well. The Stormers had a short fling with attacking play and the moment they lost a couple of games, they reverted to defense and kicking for lineouts – going for the maul with the backline only there as a defensive wall…

        • You might want to watch some of the Bulls games when their lineout dominates and their mall works.

          • Yes, what does the Stormers doe when their lineout does not dominate and their mauls don’t work? That will bring you to what I was trying to say.

  7. I thought de Jongh’s finger injury was a 2 weak thing? So he should be ready by the first test.

    • I think we should not jump to conclusions here, just because he does not pass all that often, does not mean his fingers are too weak. He is still holding onto the ball fairly tightly, isn’t he?