WEEK 9 PREVIEW
So, week 8 came and went faster than Julius Malema’s political career and we learned yet again that anything is possible on any given Saturday! With 2 weeks left to go until the playoff rounds, it’s that time where the famous rubber meets the famous road and with some of the teams at the bottom of the table facing the exciting prospect of a playoff encounter with the Watson Rugby Club, we can expect to see some of the toughest derbies ever witnessed! We say, bring it on!
GRIQUAS vs LIONS
Griquas are slowly turning into the Rebels of Currie Cup rugby – almost unbeatable on their home turf but utterly disappointing on foreign soil. After standing around for the first 40 minutes last weekend doing nothing except practicing their tackling, they came out in the second half looking more rabid than that ass clown who fronts Die Antwoord. After pulling it back to 20 points all with 10 minutes left on the clock they were in the prefect position to pull the trigger on their opponent, but instead, they decided to pull the trigger on themselves. Disappointing. That isn’t to say that they weren’t enterprising, Willie Le Roux was all over the field doing all kinds of batshit crazy stuff but unfortunately his performace was marred with a yellow card – much to the ire of Fantasy Managers across the country! Marnus “Berserker” Schoeman was exactly that – berserk! The fair haired mentally unstable loose forward was a tireless soldier in the ranks of the Cabbage Patch Kids and picked up his second try in as many weeks – defenders everywhere hate him and tackling him must be as exciting as tackling a cactus. Francois Brummer was able to set the backline in motion a number of times but overall, their performance was as patchy as their home turf. It was obvious that they experienced engine failure up front and that ultimately set the tone for their entire performance. However, it’s not all doom and gloom for the Diamond Miners, they are back at home this weekend and they will no doubt be bringing the thunder! They currently sit in 5th place on the log, ahead of the Bulls by a solitary point and with this being their final home match of the season, they have to convert to avoid every chance of taking part in the playoff relegation match. Expect Rocco Jansen to be as enterprising as always and expect Ryno Barnes to fire up the troops like a drill sergeant on the set of Full Metal Jacket – in Kimberley this weekend, there will be no prisoners.
However, it’s not going to be as simple as a trip to the drive-thru. The men standing on the opposite side of the field this weekend will be out there with a more important goal in mind – to finish top of the pile after the regular season play. The Lions have been stringing back-to-back victories together against the toughest opposition and if ever they faced an acid test, it was last weekend in Newlands where they took their 1st Currie Cup victory against Western Province since 2004! The Lions have not been enterprising to say the least, but they have been recording the wins and at the end of the day, it’s the team with the most wins that will come out on top. Deon Helberg secured the only try of the match and it came from a loose pass – pouncing like a fat kid on pies at a buffet, he ran untouched to ultimately seal the deal for the win last weekend. So, come this weekend, they will be called upon once more to defend like Trojans at a swingers convention! They can expect everything from the kitchen sink to the excavated rubble from the great hole of Kimberley to be thrown their way this weekend – because it will be. Alwyn Hollenbach will be key in providing some inspirational midfield hits and keeping the rest of the backline in order because at some stage, he’s likely to be providing cover defense in the flyhalf channel while Butch James spends his obligatory 10 minutes on the sidelines. Cobus Grobbelaar will be expected to play the same role amongst the forward pack and he’ll also be responsible for slowing the ball down at ruck time – be it legally or otherwise. But if ever there was a challenge for JC Janse Van Rensburg, then it will lie in keeping his team cool under the collar – matches in Kimberley are seldom characterised by clean cut play and finesse. Nope, they are normally characterised by face pummeling / bone crunching, intense fire & brimstone battles where the team that can take the punches and keep on hitting back normally walks away with the spoils.
2 Teams with entirely different motives and agendas – with only 2 weeks to go, there is a lot on the line here and this match is poised to go either way. The Lions clearly have momentum but Kimberley is the biggest banana peel on the rugby playing planet – they will have to muster some serious resolve to make sure they don’t step on it. The question is whether they can…GRIQUAS will take this one.
Fantasy Managers Note
The Lions players have not exactly been gold mines in the Fantasy sense of the game and this could be a close match – backing one team could either prove masterstroke or deathstroke depending on how it rolls out.
FREE STATE CHEETAHS vs SHARKS
The Cheetahs are becoming an increasingly difficult side to analyse; on one hand displaying the finesse of enterprising and calculated rugby and on the other hand, proving to be as useful as a second-hand cheese and fishpaste sandwich. In a strange way, they’re very similar to their opponents this weekend who have also mastered the art of the Jekyll & Hyde approach – a simple note to both teams on this issue; fans do not like it. At all. Raymond Rhule played out of his socks this weekend and out of his allotted position at centre, strangely (obviously) enough, it worked out as he secured and assist and a 5 pointer! Robert Ebersohn finally came right and rewarded some seriously patient Fantasy managers with his 1st try of the season! Super Sarel was his regular self (which makes him twice as good as others) and notched up an assist proving that when it comes to Captaincy selection, he’s probably the safest bet – 8 assists and 3 tries this season. Overall, it was a strong team performance by the Cheetahs, the engine room and in particular, the loose forward trio, bullied the bejesus out of the normally resolute Griquas pack and where they infringed, Nico Scheepers was there to punish with the boot. Lappies Labuschagne isn’t exactly Fantasy gold, but he was a menace in the loose exchanges and his performance was complimented by that angry guy in the number 6 jersey with a scrum cap. Heinrich Brussow was like a politician in the Limpopo municipality – stealing everything he could get his hands on! Maybe what was also evident this weekend was that the coach finally decided that the use of part-time mechanic Tewis De Bruyn at flyhalf was never going to work. Well done. The Cheetahs at least put some breathing space between themselves and the bottom of the table, but that breathing space equates to the same amount of fresh air in the toilet cubicles at a music festival – hardly any. A repeat performance will be required to keep the visitors at bay this weekend and the same level of composure needs to be present as well – it’s going to be a tough day at the office.
The Sharks have proven that when it comes to swimming in the Shark Tank, they are unbeatable. On 2 separate occasions we have witnessed typhoon like weather completely soak the playing turf and convert it into a 100m long swimming pool and on both of those occasions, the Sharks have walked away with the spoils. Oddly enough, both of those hurricane-condition encounters have resulted in red cards – this time it was retired geriatric and winner of a Sharks supplied Pension Fund, Pieter Dixon who mistook Arno Botha’s face for the rugby ball. While his face / head might resemble a rugby ball to a pensioner whose eye sight is deteriorating, that type of behavior belongs in the trailer parks of America and not on any SA Rugby field / swimming pool. The Sharks held on with 14 men to secure a hard fought home victory but very little can be taken out of a game where up and unders are the primary tactic. The energizer bunny that is the Sharks captain, Keegan Daniel, was in fine form again and collected another try to reward the persistent Fantasy Managers. Super sleuth, Paul Jordaan, stole a cake from an angry bunch of forwards during a maul and knowing full well what the consequences would be if he was caught with that cake in hand, duly sped away to secure his 2nd try of the season. But other than that, it was a brutal encounter in brutal conditions and while the conditions should be better this weekend, the encounter will be equally as brutal. While the Sharks should at this stage be confident of securing a playoff spot at the very least, their opposition is not in the same position and are pretty much fighting to see off the risk of engaging in the promotion / relegation match that is befitting of the holders of the wooden spoon. However, what the Sharks will be fighting for is to give themselves every opportunity to bed a home semi-final and home final (assuming success is accounted for) in the event that the Lions slip up. When crunch time arrives, the cream rises to the top and the Sharks will look to their regulars and (and coincidentally their Fantasy stalwarts) to lead the way in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Really?! You try and put a verdict on this one! The Cheetahs have traditionally been a hoodoo team for the Sharks but far less so in recent years with the Coastal outfit seemingly have grown past that (they prefer to lose to the Lions these days). Both teams have massive motivation for wanting to take the win and it can literally go either way, but, in the interests of providing objective advice…..SHARKS to show ever so slightly more composure on the day!
Fantasy Managers Note
Result aside, this could be a high scoring match – hopefully it isn’t a swimming match!
BLUE BULLS vs WESTERN PROVINCE
Cue the battle music, bring out the riot police and barricade the streets! It’s the traditional North vs South battle and this time, for the Bulls at least, there is nothing left to lose! (Except another match) Captain Potgieter & Co will be running out to what will be a glaringly disappointing home crowd to avoid a re-performance of a glaringly disappointing past few weeks. To be brutally honest, a team that had huge potential at the start of the competition has ended up plodding around like a 1 legged Zebra at a watering hole – nothing more than easy prey! CJ Stander has booked a one way ticket out of Pretoria and although it was initially questionable, it no longer is – the Blue Bulls have been dismal all season. Louis “Boksburg” Fouche has had the odd standout game but he really is a 60W bulb in a 40w team. We have spoken about the perceived dominance that the Bulls should have had up front all season but it never came to fruition – maybe the Blue Bulls thought it was a case of just showing up, but whatever their tactic, they got it wrong. Horribly. Johan Sadie, JJ Englebrecht and Francois Venter – pay attention to those names, after the spectacular season they’ve had, you shouldn’t be surprised to see maybe one (or all 3 of them) in the cubicle opposite from you at work next year. Like an accounting statement gone wrong, this lot set the backline alight like an oven – extremely slowly. Jano Vermaak will surely be wondering why he joined the Bulls – he scored a Currie Cup winners medal last year, but it’s unlikely to be a repeat…. Whatever their cause, you’d expect the Bulls to at least give a rousing performance?! Possibly 2? Lets wait and see…..
Province went from being enterprising to simply fantasizing. Instead of showing up to play a game of rugby last weekend, Province showed up to give away 4 points to anyone who wanted them. They were as effective as a 13 inch tyre on a 15 inch rim – never gonna happen. Province tried hard, but then so did Justin Timberlake and he’s failed as badly at life as Province did at securing the home win last weekend. More frustrating than paper thorns, it’s difficult to take any positives out of the province performance last weekend and if we really have to, we’d say that the match honours for the blue & white went to Marcel Brache, Jebb “The Terminator” Sinclair and Captain Deon “Don’t Mess With Me” Fourie. All 3 had standout performances but on their won, they were always going to fail a putting the Western Province puzzle together. After fumbling the ball around like they were courting it, Province succeeded in doing nothing. Absolutely nothing. Even as a neutral spectator, the match was horribly boring and left you wishing that you had accomplished more with those 2hrs. Even scrap booking would’ve been more entertaining. Province supporters will surely be pulling out whatever hair they have left after the SR season and it’s easy to see why, a team that was on the up decided to give up. Very few positives can come from the match from last weekend for Fantasy managers and home supporters alike and if you are to stick with Province for an away win, then play it safe…… don’t.
Really?! You try and put a verdict on this one as well! Province have probably been more consistent for the majority of the season but then the Bulls seem to play their best while at home…..BULLS to sneak in by the thread on their jerseys!!
Fantasy Managers Note
It’s a tough one to call and the game itself could be very unpredictable, go for the away win if you’re feeling risky!