Every now and then South Africans are treated to decent rugby results, and three from three against Kiwi teams certainly ranks amongst those special moments.
Every man and his dog bet against the Cheetahs when they came up against the Highlanders this weekend. And just to put this in perspective, the Highlanders have made the most significant off-season buys last year (read All Blacks) and ranked as pre-season favourites to end in the top 6 of this year’s competition.
Yet, after total humiliation last week against the Chiefs, the Cheetahs figured out that tackling is actually part of rugby as-well and produced their most balanced game witnessed in 7 years. As shit as Sarel Pretorius was last weekend he reminded us against the Highlanders why 2 years ago some wanted to see him in Green & Gold – and given the current competition for that jersey at the moment, he will do his own cause the world of good if he produces more performances like this. Goosen who could not throw a ball over the posts last week got eight from eight, and varied his play beautifully in controlling field position and distribution. The man of the moment however must surely be Lappies LabuSkakNie (as the Kiwi’s call him). In a losing cause last week he was a stand-out, in a winning cause this week he was colossal!
The Stormers also used electrifying crowd support to beat the defending champion Chiefs at home this weekend. Senior players stood up, youngsters have found their groove and although not close to their best performance they still managed to beat the defending champions giving them their first win of the competition. Andries Bekker was named man of the match for reasons only the folks who select these things will know, but apparently it was for his brilliant line breaks and distribution – he promised next time he will do some lock-shit.
I did not see the Kings/Sharks game live as I was stuck at Newlands, but by all accounts it was a game I could afford to miss. Catching some highlights I must say the Kings defensive effort was commendable. Defence usually gives the normal oke on the street like us a glimpse into the character of a team, and they certainly tick the right boxes here. The Sharks… don’t be too concerned fellas, this might be a forgettable outing for them (based on the perceptions that the Kings are 4-try bonus point gimmies) but they are still the best balanced squad we have.
Then the Bulls…
I got up at 05:00am to watch this believing I was going to regret it… I was wrong. A monumental effort by the pack was backed up by the slickest backline currently on show in South Africa. Yes folks, the ‘boring’ Bulls backline with the most ‘boring’ flyhalf in the game are head and shoulders above any of our other franchises and ranks up there with the best the Kiwi’s have on display with the added bonus that they can actually tackle too. (I still think NZ’lands so-called attacking style is overrated and only relevant when they come up against weak defenses).
Pierre Spies had his best game since 2006, in fact, he was so good I think he needs to go pee in a cup. Morne Steyn might have lost the plot a bit towards the end of the first half with some kicks, but he is the best flyhalf in the country at the moment. Wynand Olivier since cutting his hair not only looks more like a rugby player and not a Calvin Klein model but plays like one too. The Bulls won their first game in Super Rugby history in Auckland leaving the New Zealanders thinking that playing rugby in sunlight might not be the best idea against South African opposition.
I don’t do teams of the week, but the players that stood out over the weekend in my opinion were (feel free to agree, disagree or add your own):
- Lappies LabuSkakNie
- Adriaan Struass
- Sarel Pretorius
- Johan Goosen
- Damien de Allende *
- Siya Kolisi
- Gio Aplon
- Duane Vermeulen
- Pierre Spies
- Juandre Kruger
- Arno Botha
- Morne Steyn
- Wynand Olivier
- Zane Kirchner
* De Allende gets it on his second half performance – first half he was dog-shit but his second half effort went a long way in securing the victory for the Stormers getting them going forward.