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4407 Topic: HALF WAY - Whose horse has bolted and who remains the real deal??

Status: Bok regular
Posts: 1971
HALF WAY - Whose horse has bolted and who remains the real deal??
April 11, 2013, 22:19:18

At what is probably or almost half way in the tournament, which teams look the real deal and which teams have "run their race" so to speak?


I get a feeling that the BRUMBIES will start the slide now. They are not as threatening as they looked in the first couple of rounds and it looks as though they have been worked out with no plan B. Sharks made a crucial mistake by playing a smaller back row coupled with an uncharacteristacally poor start but still ended up swinging that around in the 2nd half with a misfiring team. Match them for physicality and Brumbies seem little more than a mid table threat. I expect Highlanders to break the duck against them this weekend. Will be a challenge for Jake to get them back on track and they will need to show character or they are going to find themselves in the position they were last year. So close yet so far!


STORMERS have serious issues this weekend if they do not win. They are yet to travel and it will be a hard tour to enjoy if they run into the Hurricanes, Blues and Waratahs with a negative mindset. They need to amass at least 10 points whilst on the road. I reckon they will target the Rebels and Waratahs as must win games but they need to throw in the Hurricanes scalp too!


CHEETAHS is a tough one to call. Everyone is waiting for them to fall over as the belief that the Cheetahs can make the top 6 is still not queit there. They have enjoyed a dream start and breaking all sorts of Cheetahs franchise records but will they run out of steam or is this a different bunch? I have a feeling the Bulls will bring them back down to earth this weekend and then they are off to Durban where it doesn't get any easier. Potential 2 losses here for them and what will that do to their confidence? Are the Cheetahs capable of "bouncing back" if that were the case?. I hope for the Cheetahs sake this is they are and they win most their games moving forward except next weekend!


BLUES showed character last week to shift momentum back their way. Years before we would have seen them roll over a die under all that pressure but they bounced back nicely. I expect them to feature at the end.


My top 6:








(no particular order. I just feel the Hurricanes still leak too many points although they score plenty themselves. Against the better defensive teams, they wont have it all their own way. We all know it the better defensive teams that win this competition! Their mindset seems to be, go ahead, score 10 tries against us, we will just score 11!)


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RE: HALF WAY - Whose horse has bolted and who remains the real deal??
April 11, 2013, 23:28:56

 Its tough to call, but the Sharks are in the best position given they have gained points while playing poorly. They should get better as they tend to finish well.


The Bulls and Stormers have struggled to get going, but with the Bulls back home, they should now kick in. If they win this weekend, they should be assured of another win the following weekend as they play the Kings.


The Stormers are too good a side to continue sliding, but they do need to win this weekend. The return of Etzebeth in the near future will boost them.


The Cheetahs have been on a high, but will struggle to maintain that. They need to keep the win ratio about 50% and all will end well.


The Kings has exceeded all expectations, lets hope they beat the Rebels on the weekend.


Status: Senior player
Posts: 3730
RE: HALF WAY - Whose horse has bolted and who remains the real deal??
April 12, 2013, 00:58:49

 My top 6: (In Order)

1. Chiefs

2. Sharks

3. Reds

4. Crusaders

5. Cheetas

6. Stormers


The Red should win the Australian conference with ease, but they still have to tour SA so I think number 3 is the best they can hope for. They have some top players back from injury



The Sharks have some good players coming back. We especially need Tim Whitehead at inside center, and Bismaark at 2 and Alberts at 7. The Sharks will get stronger as the year goes on. The Running rugby is looking much better now that the humid season is over.


The Chiefs are looking good and have allready toured SA. I think the only risk to them not finishing 1st or 2nd is losing local derbies


The Cheetas are in the same boat, they need to win local derbies to ensure a top6. I expect they will beat more touring teams, and win some derbies to get their first top 6 position. I hope so as they are playing running wide expansive rugby that is great to watch and positive for the game. Not sure if Goosen is out for the rest of the SuperXV but looks like it. Otherwise other injuries could derail the efforts.


Stormers- I am tipping them to have a good tour. It is possibale to win all 4 games.

If they do beat the Sharks this weekend, the points difference is not that great. I expect this year that all teams will have more losses than last year. 


Crusaders allways start slow and just get better and better. I am certain they will end up in the top 6. Mccaw and Carter should be back for the business end in all major matches.







Status: Bok regular
Posts: 1021
RE: HALF WAY - Whose horse has bolted and who remains the real deal??
April 12, 2013, 03:59:14

SA Conference - Cheetahs are team for me - most exciting good leadership in A Strauss (actually think he is shaping up to be starting hooker for boks - most impressive). Sharks v Reds @ suncorp should be a cracker and will attend with my durban buddy. I assure unless Kaplan is there to repeat his disgraceful antics from last year Sharks will not win... but I guess SA fans know their teams better...?

Aust Conference - Reds on the rise but dont rule Brumbies out yet. Jesse Mogg hasnt played for a few weeks and he is 100% attacking flair - Rematch v Reds in Suncorp will go long way to see who tops Aust Conf... Ideally be good for both these teams to make playoffs. Outcome will likely be decided around Lions tour and possibly (as much as I dont want to say it) injuries to key players....

Kiwi Conference - Chiefs look solid 5/6 but hoping to be 5/7 after this weekend. The funny thing is that kiwis lack a clear backup team - early form would have put blues up there but after a few losses their form has slid. @ Sharkbok not sure if McCaw? is coming back for s15 at all this year...? If had to say you'd put crusaders in the mix simply becasue of their ability to always be there...  


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RE: HALF WAY - Whose horse has bolted and who remains the real deal??
April 12, 2013, 04:22:18

I have given my predictions on the outcome of the games this weekend elsewhere and I have provided reasons for my predictions even breaking it down to various combinations.  I stick with my predictions.   The problem remains that the style of rugby the stronger franchises are paying are shown up for what has really gone bad.  Let me be more explicit.    

The Stormers

The team played a style of rugby last year that depends on being competitive up front and based on sound defence.   The wins they made was based normally on point difference through penalties - their backline attacking performances were dismal and throughout the season they never managed to get one bonus point  through scoring four tries.   However, there were always signs that the Stormers could not sustain their winning record and it happened in the semi-final when the travel- tired Sharks beat them with ease.

Now lets get back to this year.   I personally think the signs were bad from the start.  They lost their warm-up game against the Cheetahs and they lost their first game against the Bulls because ther strongest point throughout last year - their kicking at goal - collapsed completely when Jantjies did not manage to convert anything he aimed at goal.    That was followed by a game that can at best be discribed as atrocious against the Sharks and the losses mounted.   

Granted they beat the Chiefs in a game that the Chiefs lost by a fluke and they beat the Brumbies - their best game this year.  However, there are signs that the Brumbies are not really the strong start they looked like when they played the other Australian franchises - despite their big win against the Sharks - so even that game should be viewed in context.   The next loss was against the Cheetahs.   In the latter game they got a 7 pointer through the incompetence of the referee - giving them a penalty instead of penalizing them for a serious transgression.   They really should not even have qualified for a bonus point in that game.  

Lets get down to the actual reasons for the string of losses:-

*   Their attacking backline play last year showed serious deficiencies and the situation has not really changed at all this year.   They thought that the problem could be fixed by the acquisition of Jantjies - but the latter did not really improve their backline performances at all.   Matter of fact it looked worse than last year - bceause their defences disintegrated at major stages during  games.   A typical example was in the game last Saturday - when a player that has a reputaion for sound defence - De Jongh - missed all the really crucial tackles he was supposed to make.

*    The Jantjies situation forced them into playing a weakened backline by bringing in Pietersen to start for the team so as to take care of goalkicking.   Although he was mostly successful in that Department it was not really suucessful in both attacking and defensive play.  

*     Their forwrds blew hot and cold and the absence of crucial players like Etzebeth did not help matters at all.  

The question is can  the problems encountered thus far this year be fixed and the answer is really it cannot be fixed if the coach persisted with his present selections scenario.   Unfortunately the key selections are all wrong.  You cannot try and cover for Jantjies' goalkicking collapse by not selecting your strongest potential backline like the Stormers had to do in the games thus far.    Jantjies showed some sparks of good play at some stages of the games - but in the end those were cancelled out by bad lapses on his part as well.  

There backline defensive structure substantially collapsed and the problem again started off with Jantjies who always had problems in defence against attackes in the channel.   It ballooned furhter out in that De Jongh missed crucial tackles in all the games he played in - even when he did attempt to make tackles.   In some cases he just did not even attempt to make tackles which at least he should have tried to make.

Can the backline problems be fixed and the answer is yes - provided Grant, Van den Heveer and Habana gets back from their injuries.   If that happens the Stormers can pick the following extremely dangerous backline:-

15    Aplon

14    Van den Heever,

13    De Villiers

12    De Allende

11    Habana

10    Grant

  9    Groom      

The question is - will Cooetzee be prepared to take the field with that backline - and the answer  is NO.  So from a backline perspective a recovery can be regarded as impossible.

Amongst the forwards the return of Etzebeth, Elstadt and Liebenberg are essential.  Their scrummaging was weak when Liebenberg and Etzebeth is not around.  Fourie looks good in the looser formmats of the game - but he brings nothing to scrummaging and is wickedly poor in line-ou throw-ins.

Overall - can the Stormers recover from the present situation and the answer is simple - only if they make the crucial backline changes and they can get back key forwards at present injured.   If Coetzee does not change the disfunctional backline - they are dead and buried and will lose more matches than they win.

The Bulls

The Bulls have a serious problem up front - their props are not strong enough and he hooker situation is not acceptable as well.   Their locks are useful - but nothing special.   Ludeke persist with a loosie combination that is not really up to standard - he constantly benched their best loosie - Arno Botha.  Spies has been up and down like a yo-yo this year.

Morne Steyn at Loftus recovered his goal kicking game - but in away matches there were signs that the goal kicking can become problematic during crucial stages of games.  Morne never has brought attacking play to the game and there is no indication that he would change this year.  Further out they have Serfotein - but indications are that he is the stand-in 12 and the Olivier will be picked ahead of him in games.  In the few games played by Serfontein - he showed that he is their main attacking threat and Engelbrecht looks good when he plays outside of Serfontein.   Outside of other players - Engelbrecht looked bog ordinary.  Further out - they really have problems on the the wing and at full back - especially Kirchner was atrocious this year.

Another key position  is that of scrummie.   Despite Meyer's persistence in inviting both Vermaak and Hougaard to his coaching camp - Vermaak is poor and Hougaard is questionable. 

Can the deficiencies be fixed?   Very difficult - because the tight five is not the strongest around - and Ludeke will have to accept the inevitable - he will have to play Botha as a starter.   He will have to keep Serfontein at 12 and replace Kirchner with Visser.    And he will have to find a solution at scrumhalf - unless Hougaard shows a massive improvement in skills and ball sense - which went AWOL last year and is not back as yet.

The Sharks

The Sharks only real disgrace was against the Brumbies - where some key deficiencies were  clearly exposed or confirmed.   The situation is briefly as follows:-

*   In their backline for some reason or another Lambie changed his tyle of play and became less attack-minded and more kicking-orientated.   Steyn - overweight, slow and unfit - was playing an unacceptable game.  As a result the backline performances from an attacking perspective became really poor and the scoring of tries went out of the window.

*    Amongst the forwards there was also a problem in the functioning of the hooker and in line out work and tight phazes of the game.

To his credit - Plumtree recognized the problems immediately and he took three basic steps.   He replaced Burden as hooker, he brought in Du Toit as lock and he removed Steyn from the critical number 12 position.  Especially the  return of Bismarck Du Plessis, Alberts and Whitehead from injury will furher strenghen the side and there are signs that the poor performances thus far are a thing of the past and the way forward looks good.    

The Cheetahs and the Kings

With their limited player resources - these two teams are performing way above expectations.   If the Cheetahs despite the loss of Goosen keep up their present performances and go forward in the same way they have played thus far - they will win more games than they lose. 

I am confident that the Sharks will beat the Stormers this weekend and equally confident that the Cheetahs will beat the Bulls.     


black adder

Status: Baby Bok
Posts: 190
RE: HALF WAY - Whose horse has bolted and who remains the real deal??
April 12, 2013, 23:02:23

@ Boklogic are you serious ? The Blues are crap and the Hurricanes will piss all over them tonight.

Hurricanes will open you up like a tin of baked beans. Then spread you on their toast and eat you for breakfast.. The most dangerous side in the comp is just kicking into gear so watch the fk out for a rampaging Canes outfit.


Status: Bok regular
Posts: 1971
RE: HALF WAY - Whose horse has bolted and who remains the real deal??
April 13, 2013, 04:30:10

 Black Adder, you right, the Canes will split teams apart..Then they turn the ball over and get scored on themselves. They are one of the worst teams defensively. That is no maybe..

I dont think Hurricanes will win tonight. Blues will have to have a very poor game.


Status: Hall Of Fame
Posts: 12040
RE: HALF WAY - Whose horse has bolted and who remains the real deal??
April 13, 2013, 09:29:57

 the top six sides are:







Some early comp oddities are giving some oaks the wrong impression. 

Cheetahs and a few other sides could bust into the party of 6. 

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