It’s semi final time, and hell, this is going to be one of the best weekend’s of rugby you will experience in a long time!
There’s a lot riding on this one. Getting the result right can help you make serious progress in our Last Man Standing competition, as well as making your way up the log over at SuperBru. For those of you who prefer to take a more direct financial stake in things, perhaps using an online sports betting site, such as Marshalls World of Sport to place a bet on the results will be more your thing. Knowing who’s playing (and who isn’t) is also pretty important for Fantasy League managers.
Challenge: Here is the challenge, everybody reading this has to put in writing their predictions for the weekend results. Think about it, be careful and put it down. This will then determine which blogger has the most insight and will be voted the best predictor and will win the admiration of the entire Sharksworld community.
Game 1: Sharks v Bulls
This is the big one for the weekend, and who dares to call the winner of this match? Both teams have so much at stake. The Bulls have an amazing record in play offs and would love to keep that intact. The Sharks have a massive chokers tag that will not go away, and this is the perfect opportunity to get rid of it. Look forward to a massive forward battle from two of the best packs in the country, along with loose forwards that will be running at each other all day. Is your mouth watering yet? Prediction: Sharks by 6
Players to watch:
For the Sharks: From 15 to one they have quality, but it will be the wise old heads of Stefan Terblanché (as captain), along with Springboks Ryan Kankowski, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira that could hold the key. The exciting Louis Ludik, at fullback, powerful Lwazi Mvovo on the wing and the youthful exuberance of Patrick Lambie at flyhalf are always worth the entry fee.
For the Blue Bulls: This is a team of proven quality across the park. However, the lock combination of Victor Matfield (with the added responsibility of the captaincy) and Bakkies Botha is rated as the best in the world. You would want to see if they live up to their star status. Then there is the match-winning ability of Morné Steyn at flyhalf and the rare qualities of Francois Hougaard at scrumhalf. Danie Rossouw is preferred at No.8 ahead of Pierre Spies and you wonder of that was a good selection?
Head to head: You can take any position and it would make for an interesting showdown. However, the key battles will happen along the spines of the two teams – at hooker, Springboks Bismarck du Plessis and Chiliboy Ralepelle, at lock – Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha against Alistair Hargreaves and Steven Sykes, at No.8, Ryan Kankowski against Danie Rossouw, the halfbacks – Patrick Lambie and Charl McLeod versus Morné Steyn and Francois Hougaard. You can go further down the team, pick your own hot spots, but those could be the defining battles of this game.
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Stefan Terblanché (captain), 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Eugene van Staden, 18 Anton Bresler, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 André Pretorius, 22 Odwa Ndungane.
Blue Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Danie Rossouw, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Derick Kuün, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Pierre Spies, 20 Ruan Snyman, 21 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22 Deon Stegmann.
Game 2: Western Province v Cheetahs
Who ever said Currie Cup rugby is boring? Another cracker match to look forward to. Western Province would love to show that they are serious contenders for silverware this year by getting into the finals. The Cheetahs on the other hand, are in the mood to upset like they always do and get into the finals where anything can happen. The Cheetahs frontrow must be one of the best in the tournament, and will give WP a good run, but WP have THE backline of the tournament, and should an amazing battle of running rugby front one team and defence from the other. Prediction: Cheetahs by 4
Players to watch:
For Western Province: There are plenty of Springboks to choose from but the player who has been the most consistent this season is tough No.8 Duane Vermeulen. The centre pairing of Jean de Villiers and Juan de Jongh is a quality one and will be eager to run with ball in hand, as will pocket-rocket Gio Aplon who can create a try out of nothing. Wing Bryan Habana looked like a man with something to prove last week and is a renowned match-winner.
For the Cheetahs: Centre Mayer Bosman is having a fantastic season and will relish the challenge of taking on couple of Boks in the midfield. The man the Cheetahs rely on heavily to lead them from the front is their captain Juan Smith who is an inspiration to watch. The big men in the front row WP Nel, Adriaan Strauss and Coenie Oosthuizen have an important job to put WP on the back foot and they have the muscle to do it.
Head to head: At the breakdown the battle between Schalk Burger and Francois Louw against Juan Smith and Ashley Johnson will be crucial in the overall contest. Another defining clash is at flyhalf where both Willem de Waal and Louis Strydom aren’t the flashiest pivots, but they are reliable goal-kickers who will need to hold their nerve – especially in a knock-out game where a missed penalty can cost you the match.
Western Province: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Willem de Waal, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger (captain), 5 Anton van Zyl, 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 JD Moller.
Replacements: 16 Hanyani Shimange, 17 JC Kritzinger, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Pieter Louw, 20 Dewaldt Duvenage, 21 Lionel Cronjé, 22 Paul Bosch.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Philip Snyman, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Corné Uys, 10 Louis Strydom, 9 Tewis De Bruyn, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Juan Smith (captain), 6 Hendro Scholtz, 5 Waltie Vermeulen, 4 Francois Uys, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Skipper Badenhorst, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Izak van der Westhuizen, 19 Kabamba Floors, 20 Tertius Carse, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Riaan Smit.Tweet