The Sharks almost started the weekend with one of the biggest shocks of the season as they recovered from a slow start against the Hurricanes to being bitterly unlucky to lose deep into extra time in Napier.
It is great to see the Natalians finally starting to find their attacking rhythm under coach Du Preez.If the Sharks can take this forward they could make a good run for it on home soil. The partnership of Rob Jnr and the powerful Andre Esterhuizen is finally flourishing and Rassie Erasmus might do well to keep a close eye on this combination.
In other results the Brumbies pulled a rabbit from their own down-under. Trailing 12-18 at the break the home side miraculously found the try scoring form which had evaded them the entire season to overturn the Reds. The result means that the Aussie conference is still wide open and as this critic predicted it will in all likelihood be won by the team who is just marginally less crap than the others.
The Chiefs almost saw their title charge be derailed by the ever volatile Blues. I think picking the lotto numbers is easier than trying to determine which Blues team will pitch up on a particular weekend. On this occasion they were more decent than dismal and gave the Chiefs a closer shave than Beast’s five blade BIC razor.
Over the Easter weekend the annual KKNK festival was held in my area as per usual so allow me to remain in the cultural bubble for this analogy. Being an Afrikaans speaking boy from KZN I am Afrikaans but with a difference– for those of you who aren’t quite familiar with the situation the KZN breed still enjoy a koeksister and melktertas much as the next boertjie but most of us have never been on a tractor, won’t be caught dead wearing socks that come up to your ankles and don’t call every woman we come across “tannie” (you can think of us as a Coke Liteversion of the greater Afrikaner group if you will).
Of course whilst we are more capable in the ocean and can more often than not utlise the correct tense when conversing in the English language the drawback is we are less efficient at a traditional Afrikaans wedding or the Varsity social since the dance skills are sorely lacking. At any such langarmevent the KZN lads remain glued to their seats whilst the guys from up North step up and steal the show. With an aura of invincibility you get those boertjies who have the fancy heel kick and the twists and turns which have the fairer sex queuing in line for a chance to be taken for a spin (on the dance floor of course).
Like these sure-footed gentlemen Elton Jantjies at his best has all the moves to leave us all in awe of his sublime skill – a deft chip, a sharp sidestep and silky-smooth flow to his game; all done of a pep in his step and an air of cockiness. My problem is that test rugby is hardly an Afrikaans sokkie pop number. It’s dirty, its rough, it’s tough – it’s hard core rock and roll. When the drums get smashed with intent and the guitar riffs come out the farmer boys are side-lined and out of their comfort zone, leaving them more out of place that Nataniel at an EFC cage fight. Jantjies may be good at the local stuff but for mind he has shown that he is just not quite rock-and-roll enough to make it on the international stage.
On Saturday Jantjies owned the floor. Behind a pack that gave as good as it got and with Marx and Kwagga causing chaos at the breakdown Elton was on tune and step-perfect as he danced to his heart content and left the Stormers in his wake.
It was always going to be a crucial inter-conference clash and whilst the Lions have rejuvenated their campaign with that convincing performance they have perhaps doomed the 2018 aspirations of the Capetonians for good one feels.
It was incredible to see the heart, skill and just generally exhilarating play of the Blitzbok B side in Hong Kong. Fiji brought a full strength squad to the event and the fact that our youngster ran them close (and were still good enough for a third place overall) just shows how sound the current Sevens model is that has been developed over the last few years. One really wishes the suit-wearers could realise that this is the type of behind the scenes structure, planning and administration required to achieve success.
Another moment which caught my eye was seeing Naiyaravoro charging through the Sunwolves defence like a real-life Godzilla as the Japs desperately tried by any means necessary to in some way bring the monster to a halt. Like ants trying to stop a tank the sushi eaters had little hope of stopping the big Waratah winger without serious damage being inflicted.
This belongs to the Stormers who just had no answers for what the Lions threw at them. The Stormers were well in the game in terms of territory and possession but they couldn’t come up with a plan to combat their hosts at the tackle area. Their inability in this facet of the game meant they were never in with a shout. Too often South African teams of guilty of not being able to think on the field and come up with a possible solution by adapting their tactics and this was yet another example.
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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