They talked of a gold medal ping pong player facing Roger Federer, an under-water hockey champion looking to take on Michael Phelps or perhaps your local pub’s best pool player trying to challenge Phil Taylor at darts with the hope of scoring more 180 calls that the legend.
In the end it was Connor McGregor, cage fighter, against Floyd Mayweather, world class 40 and 0 boxer. Despite all the bravado and macho big talking there was always only going to be one winner in the cross-over fight (okay when the loser apparently pockets a cool $100mil I suppose it’s like attending the Ellen show – everyone’s a winner!). After the glitz and glamour, over the top build-up sanity prevailed and Floyd Mayweather out-boxed his novice opponent like we all should have expected.
In McGregor’s post-match interview he emphasised the fact that his ultra-professional opponent was just more “composed” than him. This characteristic is a common one (unfortunately less common than one would have hoped) and much needed trait across all sports. The presence – or lack thereof – is often a key factor in determining the winner and loser.
On Saturday the Springboks were more composed than their hosts in Salta. The home team are getting a bad reputation for being on the wrong side of the law far too often and once again this was the case and this lack of composure cost them in a big way.
The South Africans were clear of mind and were able to finish two good set piece moves to chalk up a couple of impressive tries. It is a good sign for Coetzee and his coaching unit that the attacking part of their game is slowly but surely improving. Another try came courtesy of a good counter-attack from deep inside their own half where it was a case of the Lions’ philosophy shining though withAndries Coetzee deciding to hang onto the ball and run from deep instead of merely kicking turn-over possession away. One both fronts a refreshing change of scene from 12 to 18 months ago.
Despite some good composure shown on both attack and defence by the men in green in gold (sorry fluorescent red - shocking) the real test of the 2017 version of the Springboks will come in Australia and New Zealand. Can JacoKriel have a Super Rugby-like impact when facing the best of best; will Elton be able to run the show like he did on Saturday; can the pack stay on the front foot and will the inexperienced back three hold firm when facing charging Aussies and Kiwis…
Composure is nothing new for the men in all black. The Kiwis faced a rejuvenated Wallaby effort in Dunedin as it seemed the Wallabies continued where they left off last week. The hosts overcome a strong first half effort to only trail 14-17 at the break. One expected the three try flourish from the home side in the final quarter but it was a surprise to this critic to see the Aussies impressively answering back with one of their own on two of those occasions. In the end it remains incredible how the All Blacks are able to automatically find a sixth gear when needed whilst the rest of the world have to be satisfied with a five speed (some only four) manual transmission. Here’s to hoping the Bok mobile doesn’t start backfiring up the inclines awaiting them in the next few weeks.
The Cheetahs have the “c” word in spades as they have now twice pulled off miraculous late escapes. Like an emotionless poker player the men from Bloem have held their nerve to walk away with the big payout in both their last outings. Last week the Bulls were on the receiving end and on this occasion it was the Lions who suffered the same fate as they also fell victim to the Cheetah hustle as they yet again produced a try after the hooter to steal the victory.
The Sharks also left it late to snatch an important victory at Newlands. The Province side looked in control in the first half but the Natalians wrestled back the initiative in the second stint as they were camped deep in the home side’s half for the majority of the second forty minutes. Despite some resolute defence the “c”-stuff ran out for the hosts as they lost a player to the bin with ten minutes left to play. A Sharks try left Ryno Smit with the testicular-fortitude-testing kick from the sidelines but the young man’s pair was weighed and found to be sufficient to tip the scales in his side’s favour.
A solid enough Bok performance and three other games which were decided by the slimmest of margins, and in the final few minutes, – an entertaining weekend of rugby and sport in general. As the defeated, The Notorious Connor McGregor, so eloquently put it: “What can I say…Fook I had a good time!”.
Now if only I could get someone to pay me a boot full of money to watch sport all day (and unlike sports betting pay me regardless of whether I get my calls right or wrong) then I would also be a lot more composed on this couch of mine.
Who is Couch Critic?
Hein Diemont is the resident “Couch Critic” in the Goodforthegame Forum and he shares his weekly Super Rugby Blog the “Post Match Scuffle” or “PMS” with us.
In his blog Couch Critic channels his usual weekend swearing, ranting, cheering, whinging and bickering to the written word. Brutally honest opinions of how the Super Rugby action went down from his perspective – no punches pulled, it’s PMS time…
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