Who will go all the way? The semi’s prediction.
It is semi-final time and South Africa will be tuning in from early on Saturday morning cheering on the Canes and the Sharks! Why the Canes? Well it is simple, a Canes win will mean the Sharks will host the final if they take care of business in Sydney!
I hate to piss on your batteries though – the final will be in Christchurch…
The Crusaders host the guys from Wellington in what promises to be a cracking semi-final. Forget a high scoring affair, it will not happen, and for that reason alone forget about the Canes making it through to the finals – the Canes are not a knock-out type of team, relying too much on game breakers to secure them wins, or scoring against the run of play.
It is for this very reason that I do not believe that the Canes have what it takes to upset the Crusaders at home in a semi-final. Finals and knock out games are a different breed, you need structure, combinations that gel and a great defense – and in all these departments the Crusaders edge the Hurricanes.
Of course guys like Nonu who is returning to his best form in some time and guys like Collins will always be a threat, but if one simply consider the dominance the Crusaders should enjoy at scrum, line-out and territorial domination through the quality in their team – it becomes somewhat obvious what the end result will be. They have the best scrum in the competition, Ali Williams is the best line-out jumper in New Zealand and Dan Carter, assisted by Brett, has no equal in the world, let alone New Zealand.
The Crusaders should also have the better of the Canes at the breakdown which in essence means, the Canes are going to get their asses whipped. The Canes simply do not have ‘finals’ players to rely on – the Crusaders only have ‘finals’ players and will know exactly what to do to win this game, and most importantly, they won’t panic.
Prediction: Saders by 8
The one every South African will be waiting for. The Sharks are our only hope left in the competition and they are up against the best Tah’s side I have seen ever. I think the thing that impressed me most about the Tah’s this year was how well-balanced they are, and in that respect they are quite similar to the Sharks.
It is going to be a tough game, which I believe will see-saw quite a bit. Expect the crowd factor to influence the Sharks in the first 20, and if they can keep the Tah’s down to zero in that time, they would have done well.
The Tah’s will start like a house on fire – they would want to win this one for their coach – but in the end, emotion like this is folly – because you put too much pressure on yourself.
I reckon the Sharks already got the shit scared out of them on tour, and have now finally picked themselves up to play like the team we expected from game 1 in the tournament, but never saw.
Similar to the Crusaders, I think the Sharks on a whole, simply have better settled combinations, which should see them through. Make no mistake, it is going to be tough and I believe the Tah’s will want to play an expansive game looking at the pace specifically in the Sharks loose-trio. The Sharks however do not have the best defense in the competition for nothing, and if they keep their structures, and keep calm, they will get through in the end frustrating the Waratahs into submission.
Similar to the Saders also, I think the Sharks have ‘finals’ players, just look at the experience and combinations in the Sharks team and how many of those have played finals in the last 18 months. I also think Steyn is a masterstroke by Muir, and his influence on the game, never mind the way the Tah’s will approach the game will be different simply because of this one selection – and when you make guys change things because of one player, you know you have the edge.
What would pull it through for the Sharks however for me, is simply the quality and experience on the bench – the Waratahs are starting teenagers in the starting 15, let alone looking at depth on the bench! In Palu, Waugh, Tuqiri and possibly Beale, they have game-breakers – similar to the Canes – but it is in getting the structures and combinations to gel where the Sharks should see this through.
Prediction: Sharks by 6 (Let’s just hope the referee plays along this time)
Final: Crusaders vs. SharksTweet