What a weekend

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Super 14 on 15 Feb 2009 at 15:23
Tagged with :

Well, guys and gals, the first weekend of het 2009 Super 14 is behind us and what an interesting one it turned out to be. We all thought the competition would be close this year and with a staggering 6 out of 7 games being one by fewer than 7 points, that does indeed seem to be the case. I was fortunate enough to watch two matches in full and half of another, so here are my thoughts based on what I saw.

Firstly, to the Lions. Wow – now that was some exciting rugby! For a South African team to look so powerful, so fluid and so well-conditioned in the first round of this competition is something out of the ordinary. Pity they were so busy playing good-looking rugby that they almost nearly forgot to win the match! There were solid individual performances all over the park and a fair amount of really constructive play. The killer instinct, though, is sorely lacking and having had the Cheetahs completely on the ropes and (one would have thought) dead and buried after 55-minutes, the Lions proceeded to fall asleep and fall back to a woefully-executed kicking strategy, which almost lost them the match.

One gets the feeling that they need one or two more cool heads in that team, just to see them turn a good 50 minutes into a solid 80.

Their pack was all fire and brimstone, with Heinke van der Merwe destroying two Free State tightheads without seemingly breaking a sweat. Both hookers, Willie Wepenar and Hansie van Dyk were prominent on the drive and in broken play, but their lineouts were an utter shambles and something they’ll need to get right. Baywatch Grobbelaar was his typical self, but it was big Willem Alberts and American import Todd Clever who really stood out among the loose forwards. The backline as a whole did very well, with Earl Rose, Jacque Fourie, Ashwin Willemse and particularly Henno Mentz, having great games.

Andre Pretorius showed once again that his inconsistency is his Achilles heel. He came on in the unfamiliar position of inside centre (one wonders why) and proceeded to kick three balls out on the full before seeming to “calibrate his boot” and put over a cheeky drop which swung the momentum back in his team’s favour. He was sublime and ridiculous in equal parts, as ever and for the Lions’ sake, I hope they persist with Rose at flyhalf for at least the next few matches while Petoors finds his groove.

As for the Cheetahs, well, let’s just say they weren’t great. Their pack was bullied and although Juan Smith tried hard throughout, ultimately bested up-front. Their halfbacks were directionless, their centres defensively frail and it was only really the wing pair of Bjorn Basson and Danwel Demas who had a halfway reasonable outing on Friday night. It’s going to be a long tour and an even longer season for the boys from Bloem.

I also caught the first half of the Hurricanes-Waratahs snore-fest. Let me just say that if these two sides are considered flag-bearers by the New Zealanders and Australians respectively, then the Super 14 trophy will be coming back to South Africa this year. The Canes were marginally more dreadful than their Sydney-based rivals and appeared out-of-ideas, flatfooted and half-paced in everything that they did. The Tahs capitalised better on the ample turnover ball the Canes coughed up to them and ultimately deserved the win; both sides clearly have a lot of work to do and I wouldn’t consider either a serious title challenger based on Saturday’s showing. There are still at least 13 weeks to go, though…

And what of my beloved Sharks? I think it’s safe to say that they were pretty shocking for 20 minutes, much better for the next 30, absolutely superb for the 15 thereafter and then managed to hold on grittily for the final push. They came up against a committed and enterprising Stormers lineup who, as predicted, looked rudderless and devoid of ideas once inspirational skipper Jean de Villiers was forced off.  One writes the Cape men off at your peril though, as the Sharks discovered, having to defend manfully to preserve the slenderest of leads at the end. The Sharks need to learn the same lesson as the Lions; nail the bloody coffin shut while you have the hammer in your hand! They had the Stormers completely under the cosh on 60 minutes, only to let them come back and bloody nearly take the game. For the men in blue, they will take heart at the way they pushed the Sharks, but will be hoping, if not praying, for a speedy return for de Villiers.

John Smit and Bismarck du Plessis were the catalysts for the Sharks upfront, together with the ever-impressive Jean Deysel. The sight of Smit, in the unfamiliar position of loose-head prop, demolishing Springbok Brian Mujati is one I won’t forget in a hurry. Ryan Kankowski also put in a few telling runs, but the Sharks pack at this stage resembles an engine in the process of being tuned, rather than one running at optimal capacity. The Stormers 8 did well, with the second row of Adriaan Fondse and Andries Bekker particularly prominent on defence. As a whole, though, the unit was shaded by the Sharks over 80 minutes.

For the Sharks, it was the attacking axis of Ruan Pienaar, Frans Steyn and Adi Jacobs that caused the most concern. The outside backs were pretty good, particularly on defence, but the midfield was leaky and the organisation on attack inadequate. Pienaar had a day he’d rather forget on just about all counts and the Sharks will need to work with him during the week to ensure he has a better outing against the Lions. The key is to accept the odd poor game as he becomes accustomed to the new position. The same can be said of Frans Steyn at inside centre, who tried to do too much on his own.

The Stormers backs were enterprising and dangerous by comparison and would have had more to show for their efforts had it not been for some particularly desperate scrambling defence by the Sharks loose forwards and back three.

Bearing in mind that I didn’t see the Bulls game – well, no more than 5 minutes of it, here is what I would consider a form South African fifteen after the first round:

1) Heinke van der Merwe
2) Bismarck du Plessis
3) John Smit
4) Adriaan Fondse
5) Victor Matfield
6) Schalk Burger
7) Jean Deysel
8) Willem Alberts
9) Rory Kockott
10) Earl Rose
11) Henno Mentz
12) Jean de Villiers
13) Jacque Fourie
14) Ashwin Willemse
15) Conrad Jantjes

So there we go. Bring on Round 2! I can’t wait.


  • Very weird seeing Earl Rose in a form fifteen.

  • Comment 1, posted at 15.02.09 15:52:59 by provincejoulekkading Reply
  • @provincejoulekkading (Comment 1) : you disagree with it, though?

  • Comment 2, posted at 15.02.09 16:08:50 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @provincejoulekkading (Comment 1) : Poena Jou Lekka Ding…hoekom het jy jou nic verander? 😛

  • Comment 3, posted at 15.02.09 16:13:28 by klempie Reply

  • Cant really rob.Klempie its time to focus on the Reds 😉

  • Comment 4, posted at 15.02.09 16:19:04 by provincejoulekkading Reply
  • Cracking game! Was good to be at the stadium – we were copping some serious flack at half time though 🙄

    The Saarks look like goldfish my bra!! Haha shame.

    Went to the supporters club afterwards, got to speak to a couple of the guys. Botes is such a legend, had a very good chat with him.
    Ruan was limping around a bit? Looked like ankle. Do we know any more than that? When is the injury report likely?

  • Comment 5, posted at 15.02.09 16:35:32 by Frisbee Reply

  • Can’t really fault the team selected.

  • Comment 6, posted at 15.02.09 17:16:59 by McLovin Reply

  • Ita 9 – 7 Ire 39min 😯

  • Comment 7, posted at 15.02.09 17:18:36 by McLovin Reply

  • Ireland score with seconds to go in the first half.

  • Comment 8, posted at 15.02.09 17:19:20 by McLovin Reply

  • Half Time

    Ita 9 – 14 Ire

  • Comment 9, posted at 15.02.09 17:21:20 by McLovin Reply

  • Two yellow cards so far.

  • Comment 10, posted at 15.02.09 17:21:37 by McLovin Reply

  • Yeh it was a great weekend…with the Bulls and Reds game being the only real down-turner…

  • Comment 11, posted at 15.02.09 17:30:05 by Hmmm Reply

  • And to think…in the NZ rugby show the reunion they were all about how good the Reds the Canes are a sure-in…how the LIONS/Cheetahs game is a waste of time!??!

    Well…eat that you ignorant pricks…..that games was better than any game the NZ’ers played in….

  • Comment 12, posted at 15.02.09 17:31:29 by Hmmm Reply

  • Gooo Italy

  • Comment 13, posted at 15.02.09 17:31:54 by Hmmm Reply

  • Rob…even had you seen the Bulls game you would not have changed your side….

    However I would not have placed Victor in that side…Botha stole more ball and was brutal in the rucks…and when Danie came on…donno if it was coincidence…but the Bulls started turning over reds ball at every ruck almost at will….and Danie had a few good runs…

  • Comment 14, posted at 15.02.09 17:34:43 by Hmmm Reply

  • The only thing that concerned me about both the Bulls and Sharks was their one-on-one defense…

    At half time the Bulls had missed 23% of their tackles (missed 6 made 20 thus 6/26)…and he reds hardly had any ball (less than 40% if memory serves)….
    And with JdV having broken def 7 times after 22 minutes of the game could surely not have been any better…

  • Comment 15, posted at 15.02.09 17:38:05 by Hmmm Reply

  • Ita 9 – 21 Ire 48min

  • Comment 16, posted at 15.02.09 17:41:11 by McLovin Reply

  • @Hmmm (Comment 15) : Bulls defence around the rucks and mauls also a bit suspect. They better sort that out or they will be taken to the cleaners by a better side.

  • Comment 17, posted at 15.02.09 17:42:18 by McLovin Reply

  • @McLovin (Comment 17) :

    Yip Yip

  • Comment 18, posted at 15.02.09 17:44:23 by Hmmm Reply

  • Can you believe that after the game you had people call in and say “To all the people that wrote of the Bulls, what do you have to say now”

    Oh Jinne…my answer would have been…”They all were spot on”

    That was by FAR the worst game of the weekend…

  • Comment 19, posted at 15.02.09 17:45:38 by Hmmm Reply

  • The Bulls have the players though
    They have no excuse not to do the business….

  • Comment 20, posted at 15.02.09 17:46:06 by Hmmm Reply

  • Rob…Andre was terrible…I actually thought he was never told about the ELV’s…LoL

    But he did seem to time that ball off the boot very sweetly…I think maybe too sweetly for those 3 directly in touch kicks….

    He did kick some awesome ones into the corner…

    But he needs to get over the rustyness…the comp only gets tougher….

  • Comment 21, posted at 15.02.09 17:48:30 by Hmmm Reply

  • A lot of people were predicting 2 SA sides in the top 4… 😉

  • Comment 22, posted at 15.02.09 17:49:57 by Hmmm Reply

  • And Henno was real good…the Cheetahs struggled to get him down….

    And he showed some good pace…

  • Comment 23, posted at 15.02.09 17:50:35 by Hmmm Reply

  • And Andre cannot defend well enough to play 12…

  • Comment 24, posted at 15.02.09 17:51:00 by Hmmm Reply

  • I cannot comment as I did not watch the games.

  • Comment 25, posted at 15.02.09 17:56:54 by MorneN Reply
  • Full Time

    Ita 9 – 38 Ire

  • Comment 26, posted at 15.02.09 18:23:11 by McLovin Reply

  • @MorneN (Comment 25) :
    Thanks for sharing that.

    @Hmmm (Comment 23) :
    Henno was a good buy – him and Ash out wide gives you 2 big, never-say-die wings.

    I have always liked both those lads – hope they have great seasons.

    Rob, Odwa was pretty poor at times, and the tight 5 were too often found out wide.

    That, together with the poor organisation on defence, speaks of a team lacking game time.

    As for Ruan, he was poor on defence, but not the only one. I have no doubt that he will come right next week – he has shown that he can tackle before.

  • Comment 27, posted at 15.02.09 18:42:13 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @robdylan (Comment 2) : i can disagree, if you see the lions game again check the replays to all the cheetahs tries, earl rose could have stopped all those tries but decided against it, he did get the back going, but so did pienaar and grant!!!!

  • Comment 28, posted at 15.02.09 19:23:08 by willa Reply

  • Scots just gave Mexico a 50-0 hiding.

  • Comment 29, posted at 15.02.09 20:33:46 by klempie Reply

  • @klempie (Comment 29) : glad the scots finally found someone they can beat

  • Comment 30, posted at 15.02.09 20:51:35 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 30) : :mrgreen:

    Boks up now.

  • Comment 31, posted at 15.02.09 20:55:51 by klempie Reply

  • TRY 7s BOKS!! :mrgreen:

  • Comment 32, posted at 15.02.09 21:00:47 by klempie Reply

  • Nother one! :mrgreen:

    And the conversion.


  • Comment 33, posted at 15.02.09 21:04:43 by klempie Reply

  • NZ score in the corner. Converted from the touchline.

    HT 12-7

  • Comment 34, posted at 15.02.09 21:07:08 by klempie Reply

  • Great work by the BOK 7s SEALS the game. :mrgreen:


  • Comment 35, posted at 15.02.09 21:15:47 by klempie Reply

  • Should take the whole shebang now.

  • Comment 36, posted at 15.02.09 21:17:16 by klempie Reply

  • Saw Stefan Terblanche’s try on the Super 14 roundup last night….what a try…can’t have been many better on the first weekend!

  • Comment 37, posted at 15.02.09 21:57:28 by Villie Reply
    Competition Winner
  • Test

  • Comment 38, posted at 15.02.09 22:15:34 by wpw Reply
  • Congrats to all the Sharks supporters!! I didnt even get to watch ANY S14 rugby this wkend. Hope we can smash the Reds on Friday night.

  • Comment 39, posted at 15.02.09 22:17:55 by wpw Reply
  • The guys at the Times reckon it was :

    1) Heinke
    2) John
    3) Jannie
    4) Bakkies
    5) Muller
    6) Schalk
    7) Juan
    8) Spies
    9) Rory
    10) Grant
    11) Habana
    12) Jean
    13) Fourie
    14) Ash
    15) Stef

    You did say you didn’t catch the Bulls game…so it looks like you are pretty much on the spot…the rest are debatable anyway…

  • Comment 40, posted at 16.02.09 08:22:39 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @blackshark (Comment 40) :

    I really do not know what Spies did that was so special on Sat…besides a try where he bumped off a scrummy (more poor defensive structures from Reds than brilliance from him)…and one other time he bumped off someone…

  • Comment 41, posted at 16.02.09 12:57:07 by Hmmm Reply

  • @blackshark (Comment 40) :

    And Grant and Habana!??! Habana socred a great try when teh reds stopped playing…he made 1 great tackle but also missed two…

  • Comment 42, posted at 16.02.09 12:58:39 by Hmmm Reply

  • @Hmmm (Comment 41) : @Hmmm (Comment 42) :

    Something tells me you are debating those because they are replacing LIONS players…but i could be wrong.

    I didn’t watch the Bulls game so NO COMMENT.

    Between Grant and Earl Rose…I would go for Grant…

  • Comment 43, posted at 16.02.09 13:27:37 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • I would go for Grant at 10 and Terblanche at 15. Other than that I agree…

    Ruan was OK on attack and actually went in to play scrumhalf to get quick ball to Terblanch on the left which resulted in a try. His defence was shocking though and he definitely needs to up his defensive game against the Lions…

  • Comment 44, posted at 16.02.09 16:45:36 by deanoelsch Reply

  • Have you guys checked out

  • Comment 45, posted at 16.02.09 17:21:29 by molly Reply
    Competition WinnerCompetition Winner Author
  • @blackshark (Comment 43) :

    Nope not I can…actually…I did not compare them to the LIONS players but merely commented on their individual performances…but if you want me to….

  • Comment 46, posted at 16.02.09 17:31:14 by Hmmm Reply

  • @blackshark (Comment 43) : @Hmmm (Comment 46) :

    Grant did nothing spectacular…in any form…and did nothing better than Earl (remember we are not talking historically…we are talking Round 1 2009)…Grant had an average day in all forms…did not punt exceptionally…kick at goal exceptionally…nothing exceptionally…
    Earl showed some good distribution skills in getting the backline away…beat the defense to set up a try…put over a drop goal to secure the victory…defended no worse than Grant…punted no worse than Grant…
    So all and all…Rose has a few take-outs of the game that is better than Grant and Grant has no take-outs better than Rose…

    So clearly you not making sense…and your decision is based on your feelings…

  • Comment 47, posted at 16.02.09 17:33:50 by Hmmm Reply

  • @blackshark (Comment 43) : @Hmmm (Comment 46) :

    Habana did nothing really…he scored a “would be great try” if the whistle had not gone…and sure the probability of that being a try would have reduced had the whistle not gone…
    He did put in one good hit on a back 3 Reds player (sorry don’t know Reds players well…don’t feel guilty though cozz I doubt their coach does either)…
    He did have one good run (one of those running sideways to the space alla 2007 final)…
    But that was that…he knocked…he missed a tackle or two…he was nowhere to be seen at times…he gave away a silly freekick at a ruck…
    Mentz kept the defense busy right throughout the game…Staat struggled to bring him down and he even scored…was almost everywhere almost all the time…cannot remember any negatives from his play…was clean and full of passion…

    But this one is a closer call than the Grant/Rose comparison though…but if not Mentz…I still won’t pick Habana…

  • Comment 48, posted at 16.02.09 17:39:33 by Hmmm Reply

  • Hmmm is to the Lions what JJ Harmse is to the Bulls. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 49, posted at 16.02.09 19:20:09 by wpw Reply
  • Summary of week 1:

    highlanders v brumbies
    2 poor teams resulted in a fairly even match-up. Only 2 people in carisbrook cared enough to show up.

    force v blues
    perth is now tired of the force and the force is just tired. blues still plays with a useless flyhalf.

    lions v cheatahs
    2 very poor teams resulted in an exciting match-up. surprisingly for jhb more than 10 people showed up.

    crusaders v chiefs
    The ‘saders are still the team to beat playing mostly on instinct from the old coach’s playbook. The chief are a great team that loose because they play dumb (running) rugby when it’s not on. Christchurch has only 10 people and they are getting bored of always winning.

    hurricanes v waratahs
    Hurricanes were plan-less and poor. The waratahs will be very strong (again) this year. Most people in wellington were elsewhere.

    stormers v sharks
    great game. great crowd. great teams. The stormers defence was fantastic and kept them in the game. They need some forwards. Start by finding an actual hooker. The sharks were a little rusty, but did enough.

    bulls v reds
    It will take the bulls another 3 seasons to figure out the elvs.

  • Comment 50, posted at 17.02.09 04:09:16 by fyndraai Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • Top teams:
    crusaders, sharks, waratahs, stormers, chiefs

    Middle tier:
    hurricanes, blues, bulls, force, brumbies

    Bottom dwellers:
    reds, highlanders, lions, cheetahs

  • Comment 51, posted at 17.02.09 04:12:43 by fyndraai Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld

Add Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.