This herewith is the chronicle of me, Magnus Piscis:
Bright was the evening and high our hearts when we proceeded to the Lands that were New, to witness the battle between the Chondrichthyes and the Lilliputians.
Alone though I was in my support of the mighty sons of Poseidon – my stout companions, PJLD, son of John Daniels the Fleet of Foot, and Agent W, the brother of Morne the Intoxicated, were both sworn to the service of the army of Little People – yet was I strident in my battlecry, and steadfast in my faith.
After meeting on a hill overlooking the battlefield, the 3 of us heralds and chroniclers did gather on the highest point overlooking the green fields soon to be bathed in blood, sharpened our quills, and set out to record the happenings for you, dear reader.
Ok, so maybe it wasn’t quite that dramatic, but it was pretty cool nonetheless. We took a while to get our seats as first, PJLD thought that Rob had personally told everybody at Newlands that he was on a media pass and that he didn’t have to therefore actually have a ticket to get into the stadium…
Anyway, after securing his pass, we all adjourned to the media box where we had to immediately don our sunglasses to shield our eyes from the brilliance radiating from the collection of gifted minds gathered there. I immediately felt very intimidated on noticing that I was the only one who didn’t have either a laptop or a voluminous notebook. Even PJLD had a book and pen and made me promise to teach him to read and write during half-time.
We stayed for a few drinks and snacks, and after convincing PJLD not to ask a certain journalist if he had a brother called Gay Sheks, we made our way to our seats – which were good ones, high above halfway. Sadly, I had to sit next to my 2 companions, and there were absolutely no girls around.
As can be expected, we had a great view of the rugby from a view of tactical and support play, as well as the work rate of the individual players. The downside of watching a match live, as most of you know, is that you miss a lot of the technical stuff; not being able to see exactly what happens in the ruck, for example. I also never got to watch the game on tv again, as intended, so I freely admit that my view might be missing that important aspect.
What I did notice was that the Sharks kicked way too much early on, especially considering that our lineout was weak, and that we had a new midfield, halfback and loosie combination to contend with the inevitable counter-attacks.
WP certainly were game, and reminded me of the 2006 Sharks – eager, talented and dangerous, but not clinical enough – something that is largely down to inexperience. There scrum didn’t melt as expected, their defenders didn’t shirk with the physical stuff (Chavanga was particularly good and PUNISHED Jordaan for holding onto a ball that he should have been released for a try), and they didn’t panic in the face of a number of Boks. That said, I thought our kicking and waiting game allowed them to settle a bit.
The second half was a lot different, as we started to find and exploit the gaps, showing a lot more patience and ruthlessness when it counted. A number of players stood out, but I thought that Oom Stefan had a good second half, while Freddie, Jean, Waylon, Odwa and Muller had very good games.
My man of the match was certainly Jean Deysel, who had a tremendous work-rate, and although closely marked on attack, absolutely ran rampant on defence – knocking players backward, or ripping the ball out of despairing hands at will.
For the Wee Folk, there best player by some margin was Nick Koster – watch this kid closely – he had a great work rate, looked creative, aggressive and quick all at once. A number of other WP players shone at times, but nobody else managed to play consistently well – there was always the odd mistake.
At the after match interview, Alistair Coetzee said a lot of things that made sense, and it bears saying that journalists have their own agendas, and these don’t necessarily involve being close to the truth. I am sure that PJLD will talk more on this, but suffice it to say that Coetzee is clearly a rugby man and a capable coach.
For the second time since I have been to an interview where he was coach, Plumtree came alone. He remains a big guy, and everybody was very polite to him. He also spoke very intelligently and was at pains to give WP credit and say that he knew what boat Allister was in – he said that this would be a learning experience for Rassie – who wouldn’t have known previously how Bok call-ups can derail a campaign.
Interestingly, Coetzee and Bobo both talked of the tremendous physical onslaught that the Sharks presented, with the backs in particular being on another level from the Merrys and Pippins of the WP side.
According to Coetzee, both Pieter Louw and Joe Pieterson were subbed due to shoulder strains from tackling big runners coming down channel 1. That certainly gives an idea of the momentum which Deysel, Steyn and Murray in particular were building, receiving the ball at pace from an effervescent Michalak. Goes to show what structure from your halfbacks can do for you.
So, here is my tale – a bit about the trip, and a bit about the rugby. My thanks go to all concerned with the trip – it was a great laugh.Tweet