It’s a good thing that we don’t get paid to make predictions – our call rate in the Currie Cup has been as spotty as a teenager in one of those shoddy acne adverts. But looking at the results that are turned out week after week, it’s easy to see why – math and details aside, there are 3 teams joint first 15 points each! Excuses aside, lets’ get to it!
GRIQUAS vs BULLS
Earlier in the season we drew what some might have called premature notions about the future of Pine Pienaar as the Bulls coach…… well, it turns out that they weren’t really that premature. The Bulls management is not happy and Pine and the boys were called in this week for the proverbial verbal beatdown…. and for good reason. The losses are stacking up and all is not well in the land of Jacaranda’s and brandy and it’s not looking any easier this weekend. Willie Wepener, Werner Kruger, Wilhelm Steenkamp, CJ Stander, Dewald Potgieter – most teams would be happy with just one of those names in their forward pack and the Bulls have all of them! But week after week they are getting shoved around like the nerdy kid on the playground and they don’t look like pulling any Matrix moves anytime soon. Their backs are as equally impressive with JJ Englebrecht, Francois Venter and part time circus carni – Louis Fouche. So where is it all going wrong? Well, we don’t know but what we do know is that it is going wrong….. badly wrong. Not a whole lot can be said here, the Bulls are quickly turning into the Auckland Blues of the Currie Cup and they’re going to need a bucket load of gees to pull one out of the fire this weekend.
The Griquas proved against the Sharks what most people already know…. they are fokken tough to beat at home! The Cabbage Patch Kids make no qualms about the unwelcoming state of their home ground – it’s their fortress and it wouldn’t be surprising to see milk crates instead of benches in the visitors’ change room! If you still have any doubts then watch the highlights from last weekend’s match – Paul Jordaans’ face looked like a jack-o-lantern! Anyways, moving on…. The Griquas are picking up some momentum with back-to-back wins over the Sharks and the Lions! Rocco Jansen, Walter Venter and more recently Francois Brummer are proving to be a handful for opposition defense and if that isn’t enough, well, then the man in the number 15 jersey ought to be…. Willie Le Roux has so much X-Factor that he was banned from entering that horrific reality show that goes by the same name! (We’re all out of witty jokes this week – you’ll just have to put up with lame ones!) But credit must also go to that hard working pack of theirs, they’re bringing the goods every week and anyone who has played rugby against those “Farmer-type” rugby players will know that these okes are as tough as nails! (Picture okes flipping tractor tyres and tackling cows for rugby practice!) Wesley Wilkins dons the captains’ armband this weekend and deservedly so –he has the work rate of a 2 ton LDV! But the success of the Griquas pack lies in their ability to operate as, well, a pack! They maraud around the ground like a pack of trolls and pound the living daylights of anyone getting in their way and we don’t expect that tactic to change any time soon!
Prediction: Griquas are not Lords’ of the Dance or masters of the razzle & dazzle but they are effective at the ground and pound. Long story short, it’s tough to write off the Bulls but at the same time, it’s getting tougher to back them….GRIQUAS to put another signature on the petition to get rid of Pine!
Fantasy Managers Note:Griquas are like the ugly cousins of the Cheetahs, not as much flash involved but definitely as many points whether it’s for or against…..
FREE STATE CHEETAHS vs GOLDEN LIONS
If there ever was a team that represented everything that a “People’s Champion” stood for, then that team is none other than the Cheetahs – everybody loves them! They play the most entertaining brand of rugby – it’s like feeding espresso to a spider monkey and then watching it go ape shit! Good news came this week for the orange and white crusade with Super Sarel signing to stay on for next year’s S15 campaign – that’s sure to add to the rising confidence levels. Sias Ebersohn has been stringing together some half decent perfomances, but it’s not enough to keep of the bench with Tewis de Bruyn named in the starting XV. Raymond Rhule has been an absolute gem thus far, shaking off any “greenhorn” labels and in relative terms playing with more experience than Ron Burgundy has as an anchorman (“
News team Cheetahs, assemble!”). On top of all that, one player in the backline has been a bit of a “Rugby Ninja” in that he’s getting through the work of 2 men but not gaining any street cred for doing it – Robert Ebersohn (The talented Ebersohn) has been pivotal (literally – because he’s not scoring any tries) in the Cheetahs success and it’s not because he’s putting in sub-par performances, it’s because he is now in good company! To be fair, we’ve been rather critical of the Cheetah’s engine room for the past few weeks – we’ve been punching them with words and that is literally as close as we’d like to get them for good reason…. They have been fronting up and taking on all challengers! No-one has dominated them as yet and they are defending their meat pie stash as if the fate of the earth depended on it – so much so that they would have done a better job at defending middle earth than Frodo and his crew! Enough said!
The Golden Lions showed that they are not done yet! Although Josh Strauss has shown that he is done….with the Lions and possibly South Africa. The Abominable Snowman is off to ply his trade in a country more akin to his natural climate – Scotland! And it’s there that he will stay for at least 2 years with whisperings of a possible run out for the Flower of Scotland at the 2015 Rugby World Cup….. To make matters worse, he’s going in 2 weeks – ouch. Nonetheless, the Lions have still got something to prove this year and they showed on Saturday that they have what it takes after putting one over the Bulls at the blue fortress! The return of Alwyn Hollenbach to the side was crucial as the man with the frosted tips did some damage to the Bulls midfield and if his presence wasn’t enough, well then the man wearing the number 22 jersey certainly brought more than enough to supplement it. Jaco Taute returned to action (albeit off the bench) and it took him less than 40 minutes of rugby to cross the chalk – expect to see his popularity skyrocket amongst Fantasy Managers. Elton Jantjies put in one of his best performances of the season – “The Haircut” showed more skill than Justin “Nordic Thunder” Howard (2012 Air Guitar World Champion – Google him, true story) and he’d probably be further along in his career if he didn’t let his dad do the talking….Lionel Mapoe finally came to the party with an assist and showed some serious heels in the midfield dodging defenders like they were the tax man! But all-in-all, the Lions succeeded last weekend because they played as a team (and didn’t rely on Jantjies to kick 21,389 penalties) and team work is a requirement if they want to pull this one off.
Prediction: The Lions are on the prowl but the Cheetahs are on the attack (that was just stupid) and unfortunately, come Saturday, the Lion will not be the king of the jungle…..CHEETAHS to notch another W-I-N!
Fantasy Managers Note: It’s almost becoming compulsory to nominate a Cheetah’s captain…. for good reason.
SHARKS vs WESTERN PROVINCE
The game of the weekend – plain and simple.
The Sharks were shown the stage door in Kimberley last weekend and unceremoniously kicked down the stairs on the way out – that really does sum up the way it went down. Beaten all over the park like a punch drunk boxer, they never looked comfortable and were shut down before they even knew about it. But such is the reality of playing on a field made from paper thorns and crushed human skulls. Moving on, the Sharks need the win this weekend in order to get the plan back on track. They will be without the services of the Creepy Mustache – Paul Jordaan needs to give his face a rest. But one man’s loss is another man’s gain, welcome back Tim Whitehead! The Cape Town import has found a new lease on rugby life since switching to real life on the sunshine coast and after a few weeks on the side will be keen to get into gear! The 9 / 10 combination is starting to take some shape with Riaan “I can kick your face off” Viljoen and the young gun Cobus Reinach pairing up for this match. Reinach has earned himself an opportunity to lock down the number 9 jersey after showing Charl McLeod how to pass a rugby ball and Sharks fans are probably hoping he capitalises on it. Up front, the usual suspects will be expected to produce the goods – Keegan Daniel, Jean Deysel and Anton Bresler are the recognisable ball carries for the Sharks and Province can look forward to tackling them…. all night. Strangely enough, Monde Hadebe has been relegated to the bench after some seriously strong performances and who has he made way for – none other than the newly signed pensioner, Pieter Dixon. Don’t worry, were also confused.
Province produced the goods last weekend and managed to keep a rampant Cheetahs side at bay in Bloemfontein – not an easy task to accomplish.Marcel Brache has been a bit of a revelation in the midfield for the mountain dwelling men but special mention has to be made again of Demetri Catracornflakesakilis who is relishing game time in the pivot position and flummoxing defenders left, right and left again! Nic Groom had another solid game and when you add all of the young blood together, you have impressive players in key positions who have improved the attacking prowess tenfold. Province no longer have to rely on one game breaker because they now have a fully-fledged attacking backline! Well done! Players like Gio Aplon and Gerhard van den Heever are even more dangerous playing in a backline like this and are no longer under pressure to score long range solo tries (which pretty much summed up the attacking strategy of Province during the S15 season). Province have also been flexing their muscle up front – Deon Fourie is on a roll and is the perfect man for the job of captain (and flank!). But looking even further forward than the loose trio you haveSteven Kitshoff, Deon Carstens, Brok Harris and Siyabonga Ntubeni(who could easily be mistaken for a tokolosh). All of a sudden, Province are not looking thin up front (in fact they’re looking pretty large) and they have some quality players who are securing quality ball for the backs. And it’s showing.
Prediction: Province have been playing some excellent rugby, it’s no secret – but, they are about to play their 3rd game in a row away from home after 2 tough matches against the Lions and the Cheetahs. Can they pick it up for a 3rd week in a row, we don’t reckon so…..SHARKS to straighten the ship after going off course!
Fantasy Managers Note: It will not be a boring match by any stretch of the imagination, these 2 teams love to hate each other and will look to pummel themselves into the ground. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be high scoring……