The Cheetahs laid down a very strong marker in thrashing the Leopards by 70-odd points last night and in the process, set the Blue Bulls a target they are highly unlikely to reach.
In racking up a 12-try-to-1 victory, the Bloem side firmly entrenched themselves in second place on the table and while the Bulls are expected to join them on the same number of log points, assuming they pick up all 5 in Kimberley this afternoon, there’s the small matter of a huge gulf in points difference to overcome. We know how the Bulls like to approach situations like these; back in the 2007 Super 14, they set themselves a target of beating the Reds by 70+ points in order to sneak ahead of the Crusaders on points difference and host a semi-final.
This time around, the number that the coach would need to write on the board in the change room is 115 – that is the margin by which the Bulls need to beat Griquas in order to leapfrog the Cheetahs and stand a chance of hosting a semi-final at Loftus. Should they achieve that unlikely feat, though, they will still be at the mercy of the Western Province-Sharks result. Any sort of a win at all for Province will see them clinch second place.
The fact that the Lions lost takes a fair bit of pressure of the Pretoria team, though. They know that they can finish no lower than fourth now and are guaranteed a semi-final. This can work either way, but I expect they’ll make sure of the 5 points against Griquas, but not kill themselves in the process. This might result in a lack of intensity which might just see Griquas sneak a win. If they can do that, they’ll finish ahead of the Lions in 5th spot.
For the Sharks, there is a new goal ahead. In scoring 12 tries last night, the Cheetahs edged ahead of them on the total tries table and are now the leading try-scorers in the competition, with 60. The Sharks will want to score at least two against Province today – and prevent the home side scoring more than 4 – in order to ensure they top that stat. Then again, if Griquas score 6 or more against the Bulls, they could also put their name into that particular hat.
A thrilling day’s rugby lies ahead, that’s for sure.Tweet