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CouchBlogThe aroma from the kitchen was starting to make the mouths of many water. Yet chef Rassie decided that it was the right time to add some chilli and spice and hope for something nice…

 

 

 

Well, what we got on our Newlands plate would score low in anybody’s My Kitchen Rules ratings and would certainly lead to elimination from Master Chef.

Elton Jantjies (the spice) was poor on the day. Yes his pack didn’t dominate in the same manner they did in the first two tests, thus making this more difficult for Elton than Pollard had experienced whilst Faf de Klerk was also much less efficient in Cape Town. Still, his performance was not even bland – it was bitter as Wilde Als (African Wormwood herb). Two basic drop balls and not accurate enough with his kicks from hand or from the kicking tee can’t be blamed on his team mates.

How a third choice player at a Super Rugby franchise can find himself as the starting hooker for the Boks has me more confused than Neymar’s spaghetti haircut at the Soccer World Cup. On a day when the Saffas needed someone with physical presence and punch (like a pinch of strong chillies added to the stew) they got stale ground chilli flakes which added zero flavour or bite. One can only hope that the chef has learnt some valuable lessons with regard to the which ingredients need to be relegated to the bin and which flavours marry together better in his quest for Michelin stars going forward.

As we come to the end of the In-coming or June Test Series let’s have a look at who finds themselves where in the world rugby zoo at present.

Yes, that award winning chop who owns that one magazine thought it wise to proclaim the Kiwis will finish third in the Rugby Championships. Of course we all know he lives by the “any publicity is good publicity” moto but I for one would rather like to be right. So… yes the current crop of ALL BLACKS are not yet as consistently ruthless as some of the previous versions of the black clad champions. This critic has made no secret of the fact that I too feel that the New Zealanders are very beatable at present. Yet, regardless of everyman and his dog calling bullshit on the officiating involved with the series the home side still showed against the French that there is enough ruthless finishing in their ranks to put all comers to bed, especially on their own turf.

Beauden Barrett hasn’t been in the same form as 12 months ago. The pack isn’t as formidable as they have been in years gone by, without Read the loose trio doesn’t seem as dangerous and the centre pairing is not yet established. On the positive front Rieko Ioane is establishing himself as a potential world great. Cody Taylor has taken a huge step up and they are still the team in world rugby who uses the bench to make an IMPACT of note.

They weren’t having a very good Super Rugby but after beating the Irish in the opening test it seemed all was not bleak for the WALLABIES. At the breakdown the men in yellow swarm on the tackle ball in the shape of Pocock, often making it difficult to build attacking momentum against them. The Australians continue to have considerable sting to their backs but unfortunately I doubt there are enough teams around the world fatally allergic to bee stings for them to be realistic title contenders in Japan. After the impressive first showing the Aussies eventually succumbed to the more physical Europeans in the last two tests. Cheika has added some steel to the pack but more work is needed in this regard.

After a poor start Erasmus got the whole of SOUTH AFRICA back in his corner with two solid showings against the English. Unfortunately the chef got his combinations wrong for the final match. The question now is whether we as SA rugby followers are just very hungry or whether there really is something tasty brewing in the Rassie pot. Whatever the answer to this question, more patience is required. It is only after being tested by the Aussies and Kiwis that we will really know where things stand at present.

Positives include the return of Duane Vermeulen, bigger and better than ever. Even without Malcolm Marx and Eben Etzebeth the pack performed strongly. Pollard made it through two tests and is clearly our first choice pivot and the one who will have to pull the strings and be the general as the Springboks march toward the 2019 World Cup. The two young stars on the wing now have three tests under their belt and despite a few defensive issues didn’t look horribly out of place at international level.

Aspects of concern include the scrumhalf issue. Erasmus still hasn’t found his best number seven to suit his preferred game. (I still hope he gives the mini man-mountain, Ackermann a go on the end of year tour). The jury is still out with regard to his best centre combination as well.

Looking at the OTHERSthe Irish remain that one scraggy looking fella at the corner of the bar that you just don’t want to mess with regardless of how much your personal bench press stats have improved of late. Personally I can see myself sipping on a Guinness somewhere on 2 November 2019 cheering on these other men in green to go all the way and take the title. The Irish have a good balance of power upfront and finesse at the back.

The English won no new fans with their efforts in South Africa. The Welsh are starting to show sign of developing into a complete side and their depth is getting better. Not enough was seen of the Scots to know where their game is at present. The Argentines and French remain volatile, emotional, confusing and oh so unpredictable (perhaps a few married men can relate) – dangerous to have to play against but arguably even more frustrating to support!

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…

This Blog is brought to you by leading South African bookmaker World Sports Betting – click here to “Bet with the Best”

You can follow Hein on Twitter @HDCouchCritic and he also posts his blogs on Word Press

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