Blue Bulls captain Victor Matfield definitely made an error of judgement in Saturday’s Currie Cup semi-final against the Sharks, two former Springboks believe.
Pieter Jordaan – Sport 24
The Bulls trailed 12-16 (also the final score) with 10 minutes to go when Matfield told flyhalf Morné Steyn to kick for touch rather than reduce the deficit to one point from a penalty.
“I think there will be questions about one or two of the Bulls’ decisions to rather go for touch,” said former Springbok flyhalf Hennie le Roux.
“We know the ability that the Bulls have to get a vice-like grip on opponents. Had they kicked that ball through the posts, they could have managed to get themselves into a similar position for another kick.”
Le Roux said the rain that pelted down during the game would have been advantageous to the Bulls.
“It was as if the Bulls were playing for time and waiting to get the momentum, but it never happened. It’s like when you play against the wind and wait for the time when you will have it at your back, but then it dies down,” he said.
“But the Sharks’ defence was excellent. They also did well early on to keep the ball away from the Bulls. They played with passion and commitment.”
Former Springbok captain Gary Teichmann believes the Sharks showed more “hunger” in their win in Durban.
“I think the Sharks’ commitment and hunger won the game. But there were also mistakes by the Bulls. I think they should have gone for posts near the end,” he said.
“You could see the Sharks’ hunger in their defence. They have been in the semi-finals and final a few times and lost, but this time they were determined.”
Teichmann said he was surprised by Free State Cheetahs’ inability to put up tougher resistance against Western Province in the other semi-final at Newlands.
“But if we look at the Currie Cup as a whole, the two best sides are in the final,” said Teichmann.
Former Bok wing Ray Mordt also believes the two best teams advanced to the final and called WP a “very professional team”.
“I think the lengthy rest that the Bulls’ Springboks had did not help then. As much as rest is needed, there is nothing like time on the pitch to keep players sharp,” said Mordt.
“Willem Alberts was excellent for the Sharks. Province’s Duane Vermeulen and Alberts are two powerful ball-carriers and I believe they will be very effective on Europe’s fields.”
Mordt was not surprised by the convincing manner in which WP beat the Cheetahs.
“WP carried the ball well and their defence was sharp throughout. The same applies to their off-loads in the tackle and their play at the contact areas. Jean de Villiers and Juan de Jongh also managed matters well in midfield,” said Mordt.
“The final will be a different matter as they are playing against a Sharks pack that managed to get the better of a Bulls pack with players like Bakkies Botha and Danie Rossouw.”
Le Roux also singled out WP’s defence.
“But they also tried to play 15-man rugby. The final will be very tough. It will be 80 minutes of blood, sweat and tears and I can’t point out one player that will swing the game.”