Well, I never really thought it could happen – then again, neither did anyone else, really. Hell, my good mate Agent Orange was offered odds of 150-1 against a Cheetahs victory and he didn’t take the bet. A pretty freaky result all round – call it a perfect storm if you will.
So anyway – let me start by issuing a somewhat grovelling apology to the long-suffering Cheetahs and their fans (wherever the latter are these days).. I completely underestimated you guys and tempted fate in such a blatant way that it really isn’t surprising that the universe decided to give me a karmic p££sklap of note this weekend. I should never have slated the team so openly and so brazenly, despite the fact that, for SEVEN SODDING GAMES they looked NOTHING like a side that belonged in the Super 14. Let me be the first to down my slice of Le Pie H’umble and admit that the Cheetahs were flipping awesome on Saturday. They would have beaten any team in the Super 14 with that display. Bar none.
So, that begs the obvious question, doesn’t it? Excuse even more gratuitous capitals here, but WHY DON’T THEY PLAY THAT WAY EVERY WEEK? I mean, come on… if they are one of the best teams in the competition, or rather, if they are capable of producing one of the best team performances I’ve seen in this competition to date, then why the hell did they only manage to accumulate two log points in total from their last seven games? It beggars belief, is what it does.
All I ask of you, dear Cheetahs, is the following: DO IT SOME MORE (the caps are back – sorry guys). Having proven your point by beating the Sharks and (in the process) seriously stuffing up our home semi prospects, please, just do us a favour and produce the same sort of form against the Chiefs, Crusaders and Bulls. Yes, just those three will do – the others don’t matter. Thanks boys. All will then be forgiven.
Looking at the Sharks, though and it gets a little depressing. In fact, more than just a little. Over and above just not pitching for the game (which we didn’t really do) we were completely and utterly out-thought, out-muscled and out-played in virtually every facet of the game. This is a pretty shyte state of affairs for a team that has pretensions of winning the tournament – even being installed as the bookies’ favourite to do so.
It all starts up-front, as it always does and let’s be honest, the mysterious eleventh-hour withdrawal of Beast and Bismarck du Plessis (I still can’t get an answer about what happened to them) only served to drive the final nail into the coffin of a tight five already severely weakened through the withdrawal of Steven Sykes and (are we say) the injury to Jean Deysel. You can only remove so many players before the fabric starts to unravel and John Plumtree now surely has to concede that the balance is wrong – he needs to get some big beef back into the pack ASAP and prefereably in the back row. Keegan Daniel and Jacques Botes might be a dynamite combination on the counter but when the opposition has big men hitting the rucks in numbers and ensuring that there isn’t any turnover ball, they tend to be shown up for favouring flash over smash. It’s pretty cruel to blame the backs when the forwards are getting smashed (did anyone notice how bad our scrums and line outs were? Jeez!) but it was again patently obvious that creating opportunities on our own ball is not exactly a strength… Very concerning again, because the Cheetahs may just have (unwittingly or otherwise) provided every other team in the competition with a foolproof blueprint of how to beat the Sharks.
Let’s not be too hard on the newbies either. As I said in the immediate aftermath of the match, we should never have been in the situation that Skipper Badenhorst, Monty Dumond and Chris Jordaan were expected to overturn a 25-point deficit in the last ten minutes. Our subs didn’t look good, that’s for sure, but there had been a hell of a lot of very average play leading up to that point – coming from a lot of players who earn far more money and out to deliver more.
Maybe it was just a case of a game too far – in which case, I don’t really fancy our chances against the Crusaders this weekend. Fact is, I’m a pretty worried man and I hope Plummo has a plan up his sleeve to arrest the slide.Tweet