All eyes on Loftus

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Bulls, Lions, Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 24 May 2016 at 08:43
Tagged with : , , , ,

While the Sharks players get to put their feet up a week early, with their somewhat ill-timed second bye falling just before the June International break, they’ll be watching a pair of South African derby games rather closely this weekend – as their somewhat precarious grip on a wildcard play-off spot demands.

As we know, the combined African group will send three contenders up to the play-off series: whichever sides finish first in Pools 1 and 2 respectively and then whichever runner-up has the most log points overall. As things stand at present, the Bulls and Stormers are separated by number of wins alone at the top of Africa 1 (with the Bulls just ahead), while the Lions hold a slight advantage over the Sharks in Africa 2.

It’s crucial to note, though, that the Sharks have played an extra game than any of the other teams, thus things will only be level for the purposes of comparison once this weekend’s games are done (and once each team has three matches left to play).

The alarming thing here is that both the Bulls and the Stormers are poised to overtake the Sharks this weekend. Both teams are three log points behind the Durbanites, meaning wins over the Cheetahs and Lions respectively will see them climb the table and send the Sharks down out of the wildcard running (at least for now). While Robbie Fleck’s team have once again failed to scale the precipice of pre-season expectation, it’s a bit of a stretch to imagine they’re bad enough to lose to the Cheetahs at Newlands, hence it should be assumed that the Stormers, at least, will move up to 36 log points this weekend.

It’s in the other game, though, that either result could work for the Sharks. If the Bulls lose, then the Sharks remain ahead of them, on equal games. The down side to that outcome, of course, is that the Lions get further ahead, but with the Bulls yet to play the Jagaures away, the Sharks would back their chances of retaining a slender lead over the Pretoria side in the last few rounds.

Should the Bulls win, though – against a Lions team that will be without Elton Jantjies – the cat is suddenly very much amongst the pigeons. The Sharks have 6 weeks to prepare for a game at Ellis Park on 2 July that suddenly become a sudden death play-off for supremacy in Africa 2. One feels that Gary Gold’s men probably will have to win that game in any event, even to claim a wildcard spot, but should the Lions come a cropper at Loftus this weekend, that game will take on so much more significance.

I’m on the fence here, since I’m never really comfortable supporting the Bulls, but I do lean very strongly towards hoping for a Lions loss in Pretoria this weekend. What do you guys think?


  • I’m hoping for a late Cheetah surge and for a Bulls win.

  • Comment 1, posted at 24.05.16 08:53:40 by bokbok Reply
  • The only positive result for the Sharks, would be for the Lions to lose. Home-ground advantage in the playoffs will be crucial.

  • Comment 2, posted at 24.05.16 08:54:27 by boertjie101 Reply
  • The Stormers have been so poor in recent weeks that i wouldnt put it past them losing to the Cheetahs…but they would need to be pretty poor as the Cheetahs arent good. If the Bulls forwards can dominate like they did this last week then the Lions could get into trouble especially with Janjies not there. The Lions rely heavily on forward dominance to play their game plan so if the Bulls can mess that up they have a good chance. I do feel the Bulls could struggle in the scrums with their props though.

  • Comment 3, posted at 24.05.16 09:04:16 by SheldonK Reply
  • Well as you mentioned Rob, it does not really matter what happens this weekend. We will more than likely still have to win all our remaining games. So seeing as that is the case we might as well hope for pole position in our group. So go Bulls… I guess!?!

  • Comment 4, posted at 24.05.16 09:05:16 by Farlington Reply
  • Both teams have to play the jaguares in buenos aires.

  • Comment 5, posted at 24.05.16 09:10:49 by 50shadesofshark Reply
  • @50shadesofshark (Comment 5) : Not an easy prospect for both of them

  • Comment 6, posted at 24.05.16 09:21:36 by Henkb Reply
  • @boertjie101 (Comment 2) : That’s true, it’s obvious that it is the better option for the Lions to lose so we can win our conference rather than playing for a wildcard spot. Home-ground all the way. Was it 2013 when the all the traveling caught up with us against the Chiefs?

  • Comment 7, posted at 24.05.16 09:46:22 by Quintin Reply

  • @Quintin (Comment 7) : 2012

  • Comment 8, posted at 24.05.16 10:36:57 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • The Lions will certainly up against it at loftus without Elton as well as their back-up fh Jaco van der Walt. The Bulls will be sensing they can pull off a win here.. very tough call.
    But geez, how important was Joe’s miss at Loftus now?? 😯

  • Comment 9, posted at 24.05.16 10:51:31 by Another Nick Reply

    Another Nick
  • @robdylan (Comment 8) : Thanks Rob. I don’t like supporting the Bulls either, but if it benefits us, I can make an exception. That is assuming we go on and win all our remaining games though.

  • Comment 10, posted at 24.05.16 10:51:51 by Quintin Reply

  • @Another Nick (Comment 9) : I am still not over that miss… No hate on Joe P, just a feeling of what could have been had we won that match that’s haunting me. 2 extra and we are level with the Lions, and if they lose this weekend, it will actually make that feeling worse because then we are level on matches played as well.

  • Comment 11, posted at 24.05.16 10:56:04 by Quintin Reply

  • The Sharks have come the closest to beating the bulls at Loftus this season (with our last second miss-hap translating into a draw) – the bulls haven’t lost a single game there…they sure know how to perform at home.

  • Comment 12, posted at 24.05.16 10:56:08 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • @Another Nick (Comment 9) : Still, we have to win all our remaining games, regardless of what happens this weekend.

  • Comment 13, posted at 24.05.16 10:57:19 by Quintin Reply

  • @Another Nick (Comment 9) : Shame, the poor fella is out saving the Rhino, and driving fans to Kings Park in an attempt to find forgiveness for that miss. 😈

  • Comment 14, posted at 24.05.16 10:58:03 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • @Quintin (Comment 13) : Yup. That is a certainty. Still.. would have been nice to have some sort of buffer.. even if it was just 2 points.
    @FireTheLooser (Comment 14) : Hahahaha true. 😆 No hate on Joe, he is a fantastic guy, but I get the feeling that kick is going to come back to bite us in the ass. 😈

  • Comment 15, posted at 24.05.16 11:11:26 by Another Nick Reply

    Another Nick
  • @Another Nick (Comment 9) : that and a tmo call…

  • Comment 16, posted at 24.05.16 11:16:16 by 50shadesofshark Reply

  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 12) : I confidently picked Bulls to win. Loftus. No Elton. I dont think the lions will be allowed to play their game.

  • Comment 17, posted at 24.05.16 11:17:56 by West Indies Cricket Board Reply
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    West Indies Cricket Board
  • I haven’t watched a Lions game this season where Elton wasn’t at the helm so it’s a tough call for me. Zibbie, your thoughts?

  • Comment 18, posted at 24.05.16 11:22:48 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @vanmartin (Comment 18) : Im interested to see who they pick at 10. probably Marnitz Boschoff. Think either Combrinck or Mahuza will play 15.

  • Comment 19, posted at 24.05.16 11:35:18 by SheldonK Reply

  • @West Indies Cricket Board (Comment 17) : If there is one thing the Bulls forwards enjoy, it’s hurting the opposition – and if there’s one thing the Lions do not enjoy, it’s being hurt by opposition forwards.

    I think the bulls have as good a chance as ever to put one over the Lions.

  • Comment 20, posted at 24.05.16 11:35:18 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 20) : The only downfall would be the Bulls scrum where their props have difficulty binding and keeping the scrum up. Could be lots of penalties for probably Boschoff to kick

  • Comment 21, posted at 24.05.16 11:36:19 by SheldonK Reply

  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 14) : going to have save a hell of a lot of rhinos to make up for that shocker

  • Comment 22, posted at 24.05.16 12:15:15 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @Quintin (Comment 11) : I know it is water under the bridge now, but if we could have won that game against the Bulls, and the one against the blues, that is 6 point in the bag and would have had us on top of our conference at this stage, I think with lambie back and the form April is showing, Joe will be beter of use at 9 at this stage, taking his little cameo in consideration

  • Comment 23, posted at 24.05.16 13:29:29 by Henkb Reply
  • I think the Lions will still beat the Bulls. Bulls scraped past a pathetic Stormers showing. Lions are a team, they don’t need Jantjies.

  • Comment 24, posted at 24.05.16 16:23:40 by Southern_Shark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • Im hoping for a lions win 😆 😉

  • Comment 25, posted at 24.05.16 17:40:52 by Zibbie Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner
  • @vanmartin (Comment 18) : Bulls at Loftus , always tough . thinking it might be a 1 pointer either way .

    A friend on mine always says never go against the Bulls at Loftus …

  • Comment 26, posted at 24.05.16 17:48:02 by Zibbie Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner
  • @Southern_Shark (Comment 24) : Jantjies has been the star playmaker every game. Some games the Lions have won in spite if him not because of him. His form has not been great in every game. Would be very silly of lions to believe their success depends or depended solely on him. In fact I can count about 4 games this whole series where he has been good and about 2 where he was very good.

  • Comment 27, posted at 24.05.16 18:36:29 by coolfusion Reply

  • @Zibbie (Comment 26) : Sharks seems to have dispoven than theory many times.

  • Comment 28, posted at 24.05.16 18:38:17 by coolfusion Reply

  • Tough call but the Lions should take it and that’s probably the better result for the Sharks as it gives them a better chance at making the play-offs.

    Only one of the Bulls wins this season has been against play-off contenders (top half of the log), last week against the Stormers, and the Stormers have been poor with only one win in their last 5 games, against the Reds. The Bulls’ unbeaten home record this season has been achieved against the likes of the Rebels, Cheetahs, Reds and Stormers with a fortunate draw against the Sharks.

    Remaining games:
    Stormers: Cheetahs (h), Rebels (a), Force (a), Kings (h) – Rebels probably the only banana peel game
    Bulls: Lions (h), Jaguares (a), Sunwolves (h), Cheetahs (a) – Losses to the Lions and Jaguares knock them out
    Sharks: Lions (a), Cheetahs (h), Sunwolves (h) – Too dicey to bargain on a win away against the Lions, better the Bulls get knocked out
    Lions: Bulls (a), Sharks (h), Kings (h), Jaguares (a) – Should win at least 3 games

    Come on! Support the Lions for once in your lives 🙂

  • Comment 29, posted at 25.05.16 05:17:27 by Baylion Reply

  • @coolfusion (Comment 27) : Meant to say not the star playmaker every game.

  • Comment 30, posted at 25.05.16 06:34:59 by coolfusion Reply

  • @Baylion (Comment 29) : We are a completely different team than the one that lost you guys in Durban, playing wise that is, I reckon we have a chance of redemption at Ellis Park.

  • Comment 31, posted at 25.05.16 08:26:27 by Quintin Reply

  • I think tunnel vision is required. Just win every game! Screw what everybody else does… 😉

  • Comment 32, posted at 25.05.16 10:10:51 by Southern_Shark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @Southern_Shark (Comment 32) : Agreed.

  • Comment 33, posted at 25.05.16 11:26:14 by Bump Reply

  • @Baylion (Comment 29) : Aside from the Sharks the Lions are the team I most want to succeed.

  • Comment 34, posted at 25.05.16 13:02:21 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • So much for Elton Jantjies carying the Lions….they are schooling the Bulls tonight.

  • Comment 35, posted at 28.05.16 18:28:08 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • It’s not just schooling 😉

  • Comment 36, posted at 28.05.16 18:37:47 by Southern_Shark Reply
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