robdylan

ABSA Currie Cup Preview and Prediction – Semi-final


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Lions, Original Content, Sharks on 16 Oct 2014 at 14:56
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The Sharks head up to Ellis Park to take on the Lions in the first Currie Cup semi-final on Saturday, in a repeat of a fixture that we previewed just a fortnight ago.

Golden Lions v Sharks (14h30 on Saturday in Johannesburg)

So what’s different?
I think the benefit of having previewed a game between roughly the same line-ups very recently – and then seen how that preview played out in reality – is huge. rugby is, of course, a funny old game and things often don’t turn out quite the way you expect them to. For the Lions, one major change ahead of kick-off in Durban was the loss of their fullback, necessitating a reshuffle that saw Marnitz Boshoff moved away from the all-important flyhalf channel. Jaco van der Walt didn’t bring the sort of composure that they were looking for in that number 10 shirt and without inspirational leader Warren Whiteley there either, the Lions really didn’t give the best account of themselves.

What I guess I’m trying to say is that we probably shouldn’t read too much into the showing they put up two weeks ago in Durban, because I feel the Lions did a good job of beating themselves that day. The Sharks took their opportunities better, but certainly didn’t look like scoring lots of tries, rather relying on the boot of Fred Zeilinga.

The Lions will be at least 50% better
That’s right. The Lions have all their key players back in the right positions this week and will be playing at home, where the stadium and vocal crowd lift them. All of the comments that I made about their game previously are still valid and they will look to use quick ruck ball, continuity via offloads, pace, space and generally superior levels of fitness and skill to tire the slightly heavier Sharks. Pro Legoete was pretty merciless when it came to penalising them at ruck time in Durban; they’ll fare better this week and the Sharks will need to be a hell of lot better on defence – particularly man-on-man tackling, than they have been to date this season. In short, letting the Lions control possession will be suicide. The Sharks cannot afford to let them get the ball.

Getting possession
Much has been said about the set piece and while the Sharks will give themselves a good chance (or perhaps too good a chance) of shading the lineout contest, they really cannot afford to be drawn into a scrum battle that they simply don’t have the technique or firepower to win. If they’re going to force a contest, then a lineout in the right parts of the field will probably be their best option; Lionel Cronje should not be afraid to probe for the corners, as long as he actually finds touch with those kicks. In-field launches that aren’t contestable (where the Sharks wingers should be better) are again nothing short of suicide.

Retaining possession
Even more crucial to the Sharks’ chances of success is making good use of the ball that they get; doing something useful with it, crossing the advantage line, keeping hold of it and ultimately creating try-scoring opportunities. Key to this, of course, is their approach to the ruck situation, one which they’ve not been getting completely right of late. My feeling – and this was played out the last time the Sharks played the Lions – is that they’re committing too many players to offensive rucks. Stats show that most of the time, on attacking ball, the Sharks are going to pile at least three players into a ruck, with the resulting press of bodies ironically making it harder for their scrumhalf to get the ball back quickly. The other downside, of course, is that by committing these numbers, a mismatch is created in terms of the number of defenders versus attackers – and not in the favour of the attacking side!

The advantage line
For the Sharks to prevail against the Lions, they’re going to need to keep their hosts on the back foot and ensure that they obtain and keep momentum. Getting the ball to the right players – those who have proven ability to cross the advantage line, is key. Too often the Sharks try to use Jacques Botes or Etienne Oosthuizen to cross that gain line, players who so far this season have battled to dominate there, while others like Tera Mtembu, Thomas du Toit or Stephan Lewies are cast in supporting roles. The team needs to organise themselves a little bit better here to ensure that each man does the job to which he is most suited. Adding to this is the fact that he Sharks should expect to be strong in midfield and really do need to use the crazy size advantage of Andre Esterhuizen to maximum effect. He is incredibly good at forcing his way past or over the first line of defence, but again, his team mates need to organise themselves better in order to get the ball quickly away from the contact point once he is eventually brought down.

Making good decisions, executing them well
The Sharks halfbacks have been a little inconsistent here and it might seem like a really obvious thing to say, but we absolutely have to have Cobus Reinach and Lionel Cronje operating at the very top of their game for there to be any chance of success. Reinach was rusty and made too many individual errors last week, while Cronje didn’t pick the right option quite often enough. The flyhalf has an uncanny ability to put the centres into space close to the advantage line, but it’s only a matter of time before one of those passes is read and intercepted, while his propensity to let them drift forward is also a little worrying.

Stop them dead, drive them back
All the above is well and good, but the reality is that the Lions are likely to have the ball far more often than we’d prefer. The Sharks, oddly enough, need to commit more players to defensive rucks. Their pack is bigger and stronger and there is a huge amount to be gained if they can turn over, or at least slow down, Lions ball by piling into defensive rucks and shifting the momentum. Get that right and the Lions loosies – on whom their game is built – will spend more time turning and joining rucks to try and save their own ball than they will running us to shreds one or two passes out from the breakdown point. Needless to say, none of this matters if we don’t make good first time tackles, preferably ones that preclude those bloody offloads.

The mental factor
Let’s add the usual cliche’s here about it being a knock-out game and how everyone needs to take their chances, etc. The reality is that neither side is likely to change their approach much, while both will clearly be very much up for the contest. I honestly don’t see either team having a clear edge in this area.

Who’s going to win?
I’d love to be wrong, but there are simply too many things that the Sharks would need to change in order to get a win here, whereas the Lions really just have to hit the “repeat” button on what they’ve been doing for most of the season. Home ground advantage will count, if nothing else does, meaning a reasonably-comfortable 5-point win for the Lions.

Golden Lions: 15 Jaco van der Walt, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Julian Redelinghuys, 18 Willie Britz, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Mark Richards, 22 Harold Vorster

Sharks: 15. SP Marais, 14. Tonderai Chavhanga, 13. S’bura Sithole, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Lionel Cronje, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Tera Mtembu (Capt) , 7. Etienne Oosthuizen, 6. Jacques Botes, 5. Marco Wentzel, 4. Stephan Lewies, 3. Matt Stevens, 2. Kyle Cooper, 1. Thomas du Toit
Replacements: 16. Monde Hadebe, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. JC Astle, 20. Khaya Majola, 21. Conrad Hoffmann, 22. Fred Zeilinga

In the other semi-final, the Bulls are likely to come very close, but ultimately fall short to Western Province by just a few points.



77 Comments

  • “meaning a reasonably-comfortable 5-point win for the Lions.”

    wait … what ? :P

  • Comment 1, posted at 16.10.14 15:06:44 by Zibbie Reply
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  • Hi i disagree im behind tge sharks and i think the bulls will pull a shocker

  • Comment 2, posted at 16.10.14 15:13:31 by R Pahlad Reply

     
  • Heart says Sharks but head says it’s a bridge too far. Lions have looked the more complete of the two side. Also backing WP to take the other semi. If it’s a Lions/WP final, I’m hoping the Lions take it.

  • Comment 3, posted at 16.10.14 15:17:46 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @R Pahlad (Comment 2) : when did I ever say I wasn’t behind the Sharks?

  • Comment 4, posted at 16.10.14 15:24:42 by robdylan Reply
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  • I’ll be honest…I recon we going to take them, yes they will be better, so will we. We’ve only got better and better and are learning how to ground out wins when we cant run a team off their feet. I feel the Lions dont have a plan B, as much as Boshhoff will kick everything ala Morne Stein

  • Comment 5, posted at 16.10.14 15:24:59 by Tintin Reply

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  • After reading this meticulous analysis, I would have to go with Lions as well. Sharks have done well to get to the semis.

    Must say it makes no sense to have Botes bash up the ball. He is rather the one loosie you want running in support to receive the off-load.

  • Comment 6, posted at 16.10.14 15:27:02 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • @Tintin (Comment 5) : Boshoff is most definately not a Morne Steyn clone. In the Lions games I watched he was not afraid to run the ball, and has a fair bit of pace too.

  • Comment 7, posted at 16.10.14 15:29:46 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 7) : I think you kind of misunderstood what Tintin was saying….

    But I disagree with him too.

    Their plan B is to revert to “Bulls rugby”. Their Plan A is to run us to shreds. I think they could beat us doing either.

  • Comment 8, posted at 16.10.14 15:31:17 by robdylan Reply
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  • Lions should take it.

    Just not enough strong ball carriers in the Sharks pack, and you cant play from behind the advantage line against a team that contests the ruck so well. Add to that Boshoff’s highly educated boot, and I think we will be playing from our own half too much.

  • Comment 9, posted at 16.10.14 15:34:16 by Big Fish Reply
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  • Logic says Lions and WP to win. However, I am quite confident that there will be an upset this weekend.. Truly hoping it will be the the Sharks causing the upset, even if it won’t surprise me should the Bulls pull one over WP…

  • Comment 10, posted at 16.10.14 15:38:39 by Another Nick Reply

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  • Lions v Bulls final.

  • Comment 11, posted at 16.10.14 15:39:48 by Morné Reply
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  • #JB272

  • Comment 12, posted at 16.10.14 15:46:16 by gregkaos Reply
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  • There is normally 1 upset in semifinal time I’m hoping it’s going to be 2 of them this weekend but reality is wp and lions should win that being said shark’s for the win !!!

  • Comment 13, posted at 16.10.14 15:46:44 by Jasongibb Reply

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  • From watching the Sharks vs Lions game from 2 weeks ago, we looked much better then them and as much as they are going to play at home we’ve also played well there…call it blind faith, just got a sneaky feeling about it

  • Comment 14, posted at 16.10.14 15:51:16 by Tintin Reply

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  • @Morné (Comment 11) : I would love a Lions v Bulls final at Ellis Park, but I also think there will be one upset this weekend and I hope I am wrong but I just have this feeling the Shark will beat the Lions by less than 5. The Lions line outs are not the strongest and we don’t have a reconised full back playing aka vd Walt.

  • Comment 15, posted at 16.10.14 15:55:13 by Mutley Reply
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  • @Mutley (Comment 15) : Nice try boet but no shifting the “favourites” tag. Lions to win by plenty ;-)

  • Comment 16, posted at 16.10.14 16:24:18 by JD Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 11) : Not backing your own team in the semi. Smart move Morne ;)

  • Comment 17, posted at 16.10.14 18:24:49 by vanmartin Reply
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  • i thinkd this one is too close to call. lions have home town advantage but the pressure on them is huge.the sgarks have considerably less expectations placed on them and theyre used to playing finals … all i can say is its going to be a cracker

  • Comment 18, posted at 16.10.14 18:27:46 by byron Reply

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  • Home ground advantage and form will carry the Lions through. Sorry guys, I wish it werent so.

    The other semi will be closer, but again too much individual class in WP to go down to the Bulls, although of course it could happen.

  • Comment 19, posted at 16.10.14 18:52:58 by VinChainSaw Reply
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  • i dare say that i see a match official or two determining a result this weekend … hope im wrong but the refereeing standards have been low this tournament

  • Comment 20, posted at 16.10.14 19:16:15 by byron Reply

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  • Interesting to note regardless of team, most fans aren’t feeling overly confident. Just shows that both the Sharks and Bulls have done some catching up in the last few rounds.

  • Comment 21, posted at 16.10.14 19:38:36 by vanmartin Reply
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  • well. just coz we dnt have big ball carriers wre gna lose. we cane beat the lions. just have too shat them in every play

  • Comment 22, posted at 16.10.14 19:48:36 by Justin Koelman Reply

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  • @Justin Koelman (Comment 22) :
    Yup. We will certainly win if we can just shat them

  • Comment 23, posted at 16.10.14 20:40:07 by Big Fish Reply
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  • does anyone knw if. BOTHMA. is going to join the sharks next year

  • Comment 24, posted at 16.10.14 20:56:39 by Justin Koelman Reply

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  • @Big Fish (Comment 23) : I can’t believe we didn’t try that the last time.

  • Comment 25, posted at 16.10.14 20:56:56 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Justin Koelman (Comment 24) : The Lions have first rights to him. If they don’t want or need him in their squad he’ll probably come to us on loan

  • Comment 26, posted at 16.10.14 20:58:34 by robdylan Reply
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  • the lions dnt have him I just lookeo thr squad. the cheethas are taking the pumas men . we need him. coz wre thin on losies . 2015

  • Comment 27, posted at 16.10.14 21:13:22 by Justin Koelman Reply

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  • roomers say. pieter de villiers wil coach. SHARKS

  • Comment 28, posted at 16.10.14 21:18:44 by Justin Koelman Reply

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  • :lol:

  • Comment 29, posted at 16.10.14 21:41:44 by Big Fish Reply
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  • @Justin Koelman (Comment 27) : Lions haven’t announced their 2015 Super Rugby squad yet, so it’s impossible for you to know that Renaldo isn’t in it.

  • Comment 30, posted at 16.10.14 22:28:26 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Justin Koelman (Comment 27) : Justin, a quick tip if I may. Punctuation rules are the only rules that aren’t made to be broken. Except for the Oxford comma, screw that comma!

  • Comment 31, posted at 16.10.14 23:00:54 by vanmartin Reply
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  • It’s like I said: the Lions can’t possibly lose! And like Rob said: they just have to pitch! :mrgreen:

  • Comment 32, posted at 16.10.14 23:36:38 by pastorshark Reply
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  • Nice in-depth article, Rob!

  • Comment 33, posted at 16.10.14 23:38:12 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 31) : I’ve never liked that darn Oxford comma! Never, never, and never!! (Who DOES that?!) :evil:

  • Comment 34, posted at 16.10.14 23:42:23 by pastorshark Reply
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  • Anything can happen in a knockout game to derail a team, penalties in your own half, a yc at the wrong time. Jaco van Heerden pinged the Lions scrum vs the Pumas for “not dominating evenly”.

    However, if the Lions gel like they they did in the Cheetahs game and not give Cronje and Zeilinger too many chances at goal they should win comfortably

    Lions by 15
    Bulls by 5

  • Comment 35, posted at 17.10.14 03:26:01 by Baylion Reply

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  • here go see for yourself. go too google search. tape in. NEW. SUPERRUGBY PLAYERS 2015

  • Comment 36, posted at 17.10.14 05:44:33 by Justin Koelman Reply

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  • remember. the sharks are the most succesfull team when it comes too. SEMI FINAL OR FINAL . THEY KNOW HOW TOO PLAY. AND WHEN. PLAY. GOOD RUGBY. nobody is giving. them a chance in the. game. I AM BEHIND MY TEAM. SATERDAY

  • Comment 37, posted at 17.10.14 06:00:06 by Justin Koelman Reply

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  • @Justin Koelman (Comment 37) :

    I didnt do that Google searcxh but what i assume will come up is the list of players contracted by the GLRU . however , the Lions franchise could (and should) use players who are contracted to the Pumas . Theses Pumas players are NOT contracted to the GLRU .

    Also , the Lions are loosing Britz to the Cheetahs . So we might have a gap in the loosie department . I think Bothma will most certainly be considered . we will see

  • Comment 38, posted at 17.10.14 07:19:48 by Zibbie Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 31) : I did not even know an Oxford comma existed before. Thanks for the education :lol:

  • Comment 39, posted at 17.10.14 07:40:14 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • Firstly let me just say that we have to give credit to Johan Ackerman and to an extent Alistair Coetzee or Gert Smal whoever is running the show there. Both teams and to a betetr extent have compiled sides over the course of the CC that all SA sides, Boks included should mould there teams around. If we take the Lions for example- they have a strong tight 5 that does what a tight 5 should- scrum, lineout, ruck. They have a very fast loose trio that are all good ball players. They have a 9/10 combo that likes to take the ball flat and attack the line. They have a solid 12/13, and they have pace and flair at 11/14/15. Add to that some serious bench impact and you have a pretty good blueprint that sides should follow. So having said that in finals rugby anything can happen…altho i do have a feeling the upset could be in the Cape not at Ellis Park

  • Comment 40, posted at 17.10.14 08:02:10 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @Zibbie (Comment 38) : Ruaan Lerm (on loan to Griquas for the CC) in on a Lions contract and should come in in Britz’s place. Then the Lions have their u20 Bok loosies Cyle Brink, Victor Sekekete and Thabo Mabuza who will start coming into play at senior level. Difficult to see Bothma getting much of a lookin

    @Bokhoring (Comment 39) : Had to Google that :)

  • Comment 41, posted at 17.10.14 08:04:31 by Baylion Reply

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  • Let’s hope the ref has a good game and the result depends on the teams’ play not on “controversial” decisions

  • Comment 42, posted at 17.10.14 08:10:33 by Baylion Reply

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  • @Zibbie (Comment 38) : nice pearls, but they’re gonna get trampled in that pen…

  • Comment 43, posted at 17.10.14 08:38:49 by robdylan Reply
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  • Hey there guys… First time in 4 years I have been part of this site I see u Sharks talk so Highly about the Lions… Just had to logg in and say hi. Good luck for the game and I just hope to see some good old running rugby played in good spirit. Have fun

  • Comment 44, posted at 17.10.14 08:56:31 by Lassy_lion Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 43) : Den, Rob, den! We’re not pigs :)

  • Comment 45, posted at 17.10.14 08:58:30 by Baylion Reply

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  • @Baylion (Comment 45) : it’s not YOU I was talking about :)

  • Comment 46, posted at 17.10.14 09:11:37 by robdylan Reply
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  • Couple of years back (2009 ??) the log looked like;

    Sharks
    WP
    Bulls
    Cheetahs

    Semi : Sharks vd Cheetahs
    Semi : WP vs Bulls

    Final : Bulls vs Cheetahs

    Nr 3 on the log won the trophy….

    Cmon Sharks, it can be done!!!!

  • Comment 47, posted at 17.10.14 09:12:24 by SharksRTB Reply

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  • Go Australia! :mrgreen:

    http://www.therugbyblog.com/tmo-howler-rugbys-first-own-try

  • Comment 48, posted at 17.10.14 09:39:12 by JarsonX Reply
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  • @JarsonX (Comment 48) : The TMO isn’t the only one to blame – the ref asked about the grounding, even the commentators thought it was a try and the cap[tain didn’t open his mouth when the ref went to the TMO and not afterwards either.

    A total ball-up all around

  • Comment 49, posted at 17.10.14 09:43:11 by Baylion Reply

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  • @vanmartin (Comment 31) : @Bokhoring (Comment 39) : I’ll tell you this though; as far as these things go, the Oxford comma is nowhere near as infuriating as the Mogadishu full stop.

  • Comment 50, posted at 17.10.14 10:06:35 by Culling Song Reply
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  • I have been in the States for the last 4 months and I have to say it’s awesome to be able to watch rugby at a decent time, if at all! I hate dstv, but I’ve missed the rugby!

  • Comment 51, posted at 17.10.14 10:45:04 by Southern_Shark Reply
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  • Been out of it for a bit so 2 things: Is Andries Coetzee injured? and WP is wasting Pat Howard. I would not cry if both of them came to the Sharks.

  • Comment 52, posted at 17.10.14 10:49:51 by Southern_Shark Reply
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  • @Culling Song (Comment 50) : OK – Google does not even know about that one. Is that what happens when you get stopped in an Al Shabaab road block?

  • Comment 53, posted at 17.10.14 11:12:13 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 39) : No prob. Now forget about it. It’s a terrible convention that is taught in a lot of English second language classes in SA. I get the feeling it’s a case of “if you don’t know where the comma goes in a sentence, put it over here”.

    @Culling Song (Comment 50) : True, but it can only be ‘introduced’ into a conversation if you happen to own a Kalashnikov. That’s my understanding anyway :mrgreen:

  • Comment 54, posted at 17.10.14 11:28:47 by vanmartin Reply
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  • Interesting (and “educational”) to see one man’s puncuational flaws turn into a conversation about the oxford comma and some stop sign in mecca. Eish my bru. That said… Optimistically looking forward 2 tomorrow’s showdown. Hope we can pull off a win here, while my dad’ prediction of this turning into a transvaal derby next week, is looming in my head. Ellis isn’t exactly a happy hunting ground 4 us and wp has been known to lose the plot at newlands during play-offs. Ideally, though, a sharks/bulls showdown in the next week would be candy sweet.

  • Comment 55, posted at 17.10.14 12:22:08 by Stiko85 Reply

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  • @Southern_Shark (Comment 52) :

    Coming back from injury . Think we are not risking him at this time

  • Comment 56, posted at 17.10.14 12:59:34 by Zibbie Reply
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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 53) : @vanmartin (Comment 54) : Correct on all counts!

  • Comment 57, posted at 17.10.14 18:24:01 by Culling Song Reply
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  • I don’t quite know where to post this, but jeepers, the rugby being played in this test match between the All Blacks and the Wallabies is just amazing to watch!!

  • Comment 58, posted at 18.10.14 11:24:50 by pastorshark Reply
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  • 7-7 after 19 minutes…two beautiful tries!

  • Comment 59, posted at 18.10.14 11:27:09 by pastorshark Reply
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  • Still wonderful rugby…Wallabies leave 22-12 after 52 minutes…3 tries to 2…

  • Comment 60, posted at 18.10.14 12:16:21 by pastorshark Reply
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  • The All blacks just got a penalty…so 22-15 after 54 minutes…

  • Comment 61, posted at 18.10.14 12:17:14 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @pastorshark (Comment 61) : and your point?

  • Comment 62, posted at 18.10.14 12:20:59 by Windgat101 Reply

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  • Penalty Wallabies…25-15 after 58 minutes…

  • Comment 63, posted at 18.10.14 12:21:35 by pastorshark Reply
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  • Ooooh…baaaad tackle in the air by an All Black from the kickoff…

  • Comment 64, posted at 18.10.14 12:22:16 by pastorshark Reply
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  • 19 black…a bit unlucky (he was looking at the ball and his timing was out) but still reckless. Yellow card…it looked really bad!

  • Comment 65, posted at 18.10.14 12:23:52 by pastorshark Reply
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  • While they were a man down, the All Blacks were totally dominant and have just scored…

  • Comment 66, posted at 18.10.14 12:35:15 by pastorshark Reply
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  • It was Tuipolotu who was carded and Smith who scored…

  • Comment 67, posted at 18.10.14 12:35:55 by pastorshark Reply
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  • The conversion is good, Tuipolotu is back on, 25-22 with 10 minutes to go…should be good!

  • Comment 68, posted at 18.10.14 12:36:57 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @Windgat101 (Comment 62) : Huh?

  • Comment 69, posted at 18.10.14 12:37:51 by pastorshark Reply
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  • The Wallabies have held onto the ball well for 5 minutes, earn a penalty and nail it…28-22 with 3 minutes to go…

  • Comment 70, posted at 18.10.14 12:43:31 by pastorshark Reply
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  • Penalty All Blacks…they kick for the corner AND DON’T kick it out…bad mistake!

  • Comment 71, posted at 18.10.14 12:44:40 by pastorshark Reply
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  • All Blacks have a lineout just outside the Wallaby 22 with a minute to go…

  • Comment 72, posted at 18.10.14 12:45:24 by pastorshark Reply
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    pastorsharkCoach
     
  • All Blacks 5m out…

  • Comment 73, posted at 18.10.14 12:46:10 by pastorshark Reply
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    pastorsharkCoach
     
  • And Fekitoa scores on the hooter!!! Wow…

  • Comment 74, posted at 18.10.14 12:46:46 by pastorshark Reply
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    pastorsharkCoach
     
  • Slade for the win…

  • Comment 75, posted at 18.10.14 12:47:19 by pastorshark Reply
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  • He nails it!! The All Blacks win 28-29! Wow, what a test match!!

  • Comment 76, posted at 18.10.14 12:48:18 by pastorshark Reply
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  • That was impressive…

  • Comment 77, posted at 18.10.14 12:53:17 by pastorshark Reply
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