Monthly Archives: April 2012

Springbok Greats: Dr Danie Craven

Dr Danie Craven, rugby player and administrator, was born Daniel Hartman Craven on 11 October 1910 in the small town of Lindley, Free State. He is known as Danie Craven or Doc Craven. He attended Lindley High School and from there went to Stellenbosch University, or Maties as it is known, in the Western Cape. Craven received his Doctorate and later lectured at Maties. He became the resident principle of Wilgenhof during his stay at the Univertsity. Craven married twice and had 4 children.

Danie Craven played scrum half for Western Province, Eastern Province, Northern Transvaal and the Springboks before becoming a Springbok selector and later Springbok coach. He was the President of SARB (South African Rugby Board)and later SARFU (South African Rugby Football Union). He also served on the IRB and was it’s chairman on more than one occasion.

Doc Craven played 16 tests at scrum half for the Springboks between 1931 and 1938 scoring 6 points. His debut was against Wales on 5 December 1931 at St Helen’s in Swansea at age 21. He played his last test at age 27 on 10 September 1938 against the British and Irish Lions at Newlands, Cape Town. He was the captain in this teat. He was rated as one of the best scrum halves in the world during the 1930′s and the Second World War ended his career.

After WWII Craven become a national selector until he was appointed coach of the Springboks in 1949. Between 1949 and 1952 the Springboks didn’t lose a single test. They recorded an unequalled 4-0 series drubbing of the All Blacks in 1949 in South Africa and won 10 test in a row. By 1956 when Craven became chairman of SARB he had coached South Africa in 23 test winning 17. This makes hime one of the most successful coaches in Springbok history with a 73% victory margin.

In 1956 Doc Craven became chairman of SARB and a member of the IRB which he chaired on several occasions during his reign at the top of South African Rugby. His most difficult task was during the 1970′s and 1950′s when South African sport had sanctions brought against it due to the government’s Apartheid policy. Rugby was the White Afrikaner’s main sport and this had upset them.

1970 saw the demo-tour to England with various demonstartions being held before games. These where orchestrated by anti-apartheid movements and the ANC. 1981 saw ythe pinnacle of demonstrations at rugby games involving South Africa. The Springboks toured New Zealand and games were interrupted by protesting and tacks being strewn on the field. The Third Test saw “Maize bombs” being dropped from an aircraft during the game, it got dubbed the “Meul-bom Toets” or Maize Bomb Test. Luckily no players were hurt.

In 1988 Doc Craven, in an attempt to get Springbok rugby back in international competition, held talks with the ANC leadership in Zimbabwe. They agreed that an unified rugby body would be formed and racial intergrated teams would be fielded for foreign tournaments. Doc Craven took a lot of flack for this from whitw right wingers. The President of South Africa at the time, PW Botha, denounced the move. It did however pave the way for SARFU (South African Rugby Football Union) to be formed in 1992 when rugby was allowed back into international competitions. Doc Craven became President of SARFU until his death on 4 January 1993. Dr Danie Craven dedicated 37 years of his life as an administrator of rugby and 62 years to rugby in total.

There are some lovely stories about his life in rugby. For one he believed there should always be a Jewish player and a Policeman in the Springbok team as this brought them luck. Another is that during the 70′s he coached at Maties. Doc and the Dean did not see eye to eye and when a rugby player applied for studies they would often be over looked for acceptance. This resulted in Naas Botha ending up at Tukkies (Pretoria University) instead of Maties. How true this is we would never know.

My favourite saying by Doc Craven is: “Jy kry baie skoppe my seun. Skepskoppe, Doelskoppe en strafskoppe, maar daai was ‘n k@k skop.” Loosely translated: “you get many kinds of kicks my boy. Penalty kicks, drop kicks, goal kicks, but that was a shitty kick.”

Long live the memory of Dr Danie Craven. One of South African Rugby’s Greatest players and administrators.

Posted by Dave (@djvanman on twitter)

Johan Goosen vs Morne Steyn

Last year Morne Steyn was indeed the number 1 South African fly half in super rugby and he deservedly donned the Green and Gold Springbok jersey. During the Currie Cup young Johan Goosen stepped to the fore for the Cheetahs and kept them in the hunt with his accurate boot.

We have seen them up against each other in round 2 of this year’s Super Rugby competition, but it was a mismatched game that the Bulls won 51-19. I believe that Goosen will be the next great Springbok fly half if he can keep his head and his current form. Here is a look at how they have compared during the super rugby season thus far.

Overall goal kicking has gone in favour of Goosen and it seems that Steyn has not packed his kicking boots this season.

Overall kicks
Goosen – 84% (43/51)
Steyn – 71% (39/55)

Conversions
Goosen – 79% (15/19)
Steyn – 78% (18/23)

Penalties
Goosen – 88% (28/32)
Steyn – 66% (21/32)

Points
Goosen – 127
Steyn – 102

They have both landed a drop gaol as well, but being a fly half is not just about how good you can kick at goal. It is also about your tactical kicking and how you get your back line into motion. About how you defend your channel when under pressure.

Steyn leads the statistics when it comes to kicking metres gained as he has about 2900m (stats on this differ from site to site) while Goosen has in the region of 2600m. Neither one features in the top 20 players for runs made or running metres made. Interesting enough is that Goosen to date has kicked 70 times out of hand and Steyn only 68 times.

When it comes to offloads made, Goosen is currently 2nd with 13 offloads, only one behind the offload king, SBW. Steyn has made less than 8. Line breaks are also not high up for either player nor is line break assists.

Taking all of this into account it is very difficult to say who is the better player on current form. Steyn is missing kicks he would normally slot over with ease. Goosen on the other hand is taking long range kicks that has a slimmer chance of hitting the target. This will make for some interesting reading at the end of the season when we will be able to see who scored the most points.

Come the England serious Steyn will probably be the starting fly half for the Springboks and Goosen the back up. If their form stays as it is currently the roles might just be reversed when The Rugby Championship starts in August.
Overall Steyn is the kicking type of fly half, but he doesn’t back away on defence or when an attacking opportunity presents itself. Goosen will look to attack at every opportunity and his defence is also good. Looking at 2015 I will give Goosen as much exposure as possible right now to groom him for the World Cup. Steyn will stay my nr1 fly half for now, but he will have to dig deep and work hard to keep the position.

Kicking stats care of http://www.ruckinggoodstats.com.

As always this is just my view……

Posted by Dave (@djvanman on twitter)

Dave’s South African Dream Team 1979-2012

I have been watching rugby since I can remember and have been around for 33 years. This prompted me to look at my ultimate South African Rugby team or dream team. Below is the 15 players I would select with a short reason why I selected them. I would love your view on this team and your own dream team. Who knows if I get enough feedback I will post the 15 players you have selected.

Here is my team:

1. Os du Randt
He is the only South African to win 2 Rugby World Cups as a player. His nickname “Os” says it all. A strong scrummager with loads of talent. Probably the best prop to ever set foot on a South African rugby field.

2. Uli Schmidt
Growing up and playing at Hooker myself, I always wanted to be like Uli. A fearless rugby player that stood back for no one ona rugby field.

3. Toks vd Linde
Combine his ability and playing powers with Os du Randt and you would have the best front row in the world. One of only a couple of props that knows more than just how to scrum. The other is well, Os.

4. Bakkies Botha
The Enforcer. A hard no nonsense rugby player. At his prime he was one of the best locks in the world and with his lock partner, Victor Matfield they dominated any line out. True he had a tendency to get carded for the odd foul play, but he made sure the opposition kept in line.

5. Victor Matfield
What is there to say about the world’s best lock for the last decade or more. He partner with Bakkies to make an unbeatable pair in line outs. Add to that his ability to take the lead and also his open play and you will search far to find better.

6. Francois Pienaar (c)
Probably the best Captain the Springboks have had since readmission. John Smit will come a close second in my book. A brilliant flanker and a hard player. He led from the front and helped to unite a Nation.

7. Nick Mallet
Another brilliant loose player and although he was a Nr 8, he could have been an openside flanker as well. He led WP to 5 consecutive Currie Cup victories.

8. Tiaan Strauss
A hard playing Nr8 that was also a good captain. He represented WP, South Africa and Australia. One of only a few players to represent to countries in Test Rugby. He would bleed for his team and country.

9. Divan Serfontein
Many would probably feel Joost vd Westhuizen was a better scrum half. For me Divan was better as he got the ball out quickly and crisply to his backline. No tea parties and long conversations with the referee, just get in the ruck, get the ball and let it rip to your fly half.

10. Naas Botha
The best goal kicker South Africa has ever seen. Had it not been for sanctions he would probably have the record for the most points scored in a Springbok jersey and for all international players. A brilliant rugby mind that can read the game. Certainly a Commander in Chief on the rugby field.

11. Pieter Hendriks
Who will ever forget his try in the 1995 World Cup, running around the famed David Campese. Another player that I would rather have on my side than against me.

12. Helgaard Muller
The South African player with the most Currie Cup matches behind his name. And all of them for one team. Looking at him next to the field as manager and seeing his excitement I would definitely want him in my team. A player that plays his heart out every game.

13. Danie Gerber
Again a player that was hard done by due to sports sanctions. A brilliant centre that was as good on defence as on attack. He could cut through any line and would stop a tank if it was required. I can still see him side stepping in my mind.

14. James Small
The rebel of South African rugby in his day. One of the first players to receive a yellow card. Yet as quick as his temper was, that quick he was when running. Never stood back for any challenge that was put to him.

15. Gerbrand Grobler
He could well have become one of the greatest full backs in history had he been afforded the ability. Once again sanctions stop him from doing so. His death at a young age was not only a loss to his family and the the Northen Tramsvaal, but to South African rugby. His ability to attack from deep helped NTvL win many a game and kept the opposition honest.

Head Coach – Kitch Christie
The only coach since readmission to have a 100% record. A brilliant rugby mind that coach a team in the most trying of times. A sad day when cancer claimed his life.

Assistant Coach – Jake White
Jake is only but just second to Kitch. He had as difficult a role to play. Politics and in fighting in SARU made life nearly impossible for him. Yet he stuck to his guns and made sure South Africa won their second World Cup.

Analyst – Rassie Erasmus
Probably one of the best analyst of the game of rugby in South Africa. A progressive thinker. He already did his own analysis when he was still a player. To such an extend that his coach asked him to do the job for the Springboks.

Guys this is my dream team and yes there are some players that just didn’t make the cut for me, but are legends of their time or currently brilliant players. Let me know who you would want as your dream team and we can compile a dream team like no other.

Posted by Dave (@djvanman on twitter)

Posted by Dave (@djvanman on twitter)

Butch James gives International Rugby a Red Card

Butch James announced his retirement from International rugby on Monday 16 April 2012, at the age 33. He said it wasn’t an easy decision to make but that the time has come to make it. He will continue playing for the Lions for now. Here is a look at James’ life and career up to now.

Andrew David James was born in Johannesburg, South Africa on 8 January 1979. His grandmother gave him the nickname Butch as a baby and he has been called that ever since. Butch attended Maritzburg College in Pietermaritzburg, Kwazulu-Natal. He started his club career at College Rovers in 1998 and went on to make his professional debut for the Sharks in 1999.

James went on to play 53 Super Rugby games for the Sharks scoring 384 points. He played in both their Super Rugby Finals. They lost in 2001 to the then ACT Brumbies 36-6. James missed 4 penalties in this game. In 2007 they again lost, this time to the Bulls 20-19 in what was a controversial finish. He also represented the Sharks in 45 Currie Cup games scoring 373 points. In 2007 he ended his contract with the Sharks and moved to Bath after the Rugby World Cup. Before his move he represented College Rovers in 43 games at club level scoring 324 points.

In 2011 James returned to South Africa from Bath in England. He signed a contract with the Lions and has represented then in 9 super Rugby games since then, scoring 23 points. His overall stats are as follows:

Provincial Caps: 68 (Career)
Provincial Points: 507 (11t, 72c, 98p, 4dg)
Provincial Debut: 1999 v Falcons
Super Rugby Caps: 62 (Career)
Super Rugby Points: 407 (6t, 88c, 64p, 3dg)
Super Rugby Debut: 2001 v Bulls
Test Caps: 42
Test Points: 159 (3t, 27c, 29p, 1dg)
Test Debut: 2001 v France

Butch started his international career with controversy as he got suspended for a dangerous tackle after his second test. Only three test later he got suspended again for an illegal tackle. In his earlier days he tended to go high or into the tackle with a swinging arm or no arms at all. He has worked hard at this and since these incidents have been sighted seldom or not all.

He is known as a hard tackling fly half or inside centre that backs down for no one. His early springbok career was marked by a couple of serious injuries. In 2002 he had to under go knee surgery after he injured his knee. He game back after 6 months and in 200s he was recalled to the Springbok Squad only to have it ripped away from him in the last game for the Sharks against the Stormers. With only minutes to go in the match he was helped from the field with another injury to his knee.

James formed a crucial part in the 2007 World Cup winning squad of Jake White. He played in three of the pool matches and then in all three play-off games including the final. In the final he was key in keeping Johnny Wilkinson of England at bay. The Springboks won the final 15-6. He went on to play in the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

James has made an impact for all the teams he has played with his hard hitting tackles on defence and his ability to read the game on attack. we wish him good luck in the rest of his career and hope to see more of him at the Lions.

Posted by Dave (@djvanman on twitter)

Meyer set on bringing back Old Stars: Victor Matfield and Fourie du Preez

Heynecke Meyer, the new Springbok coach, has got his wish to have 4 current Blue Bulls coaches included in his Springbok coaching staff. It has been reported that SARU will fork out R1,5 million to secure the services of Forwards coach Johan van Graan, fitness coach Basil Carzils, defence coach John McFarland and backline coach Ricardo Loubscher, from the Blue Bulls rugby company.

As if this is not enough Meyer now wants former Springbok lock, Victor Matfield, to come out of retirement to play for the Springboks. And if that can’t be done then he wants former scrum half, Fourie du Preez, to return to play for the Springboks. It seems like Meyer is set to make all the Bulls Springboks. And I know of one man that would be very happy: Steve Hofmeyr. He did sing: “Maak die Bulle almal Bokke”. Translated to make the Bulls all Springboks.

But is this a wise move by Meyer or are we in for a rough ride under the new Coach? It is true that experience is needed when playing against top International competition like the All Blacks and Wallabies, but youthful enthusiasm is also needed. We do have enough of both currently playing rugby in the Super Rugby competition. One positive it might seem is that Meyer is not necessarily going to look abroad for players but will select players in South Africa.

Let’s look at the lock and scrum half positions firstly and then at captains as this is why he wants Matfield and Du Preez back reportedly, to captain the boks.

Currently we have a string of brilliant locks in South African Rugby. Both in youth and experience department. Andries Bekker has been knocking on the door as a first choice lock for some time now and has a couple of test under his belt. Paired with him at the Stormers is young Eben Etzebeth. If Matfield can lift either player out of a provincial jersey he can come back and play. It was already clear during the World Cup that Matfield could not play at the pace he was used to in 2010.

Like his lock partner for his whole career at the Bulls, Bakkies Botha, had put it once: “I’m like an old tractor. I take 20 minutes of blowing smoke but then I get going.” Matfield will be like that ols 1979 Ford Escort that takes for ever to start and can muster no more than a shaky 80 km/h against the current locks in South Africa. Etzebeth for one has shown his worth in the Stormers success this season. Add Bekker, Izak vd Westhuizen and Juandre Kruger and Matfield would be hard pressed to make the team on merit as a player.

At scrum half Fourie du Preez struggled to keep a young Francois Huogaard at bay for the last two seasons at the Bulls. Hougaard is clearly the best scrum half in South Africa. Dewaldt Duvenhage and Piet v Zyl with Jano Vermaak is probably all 3 a close second to him. If Meyer wants to bring back a scrum half from overseas he might want to look at Sarel Pretorius from the Waratahs.

Meyer is talking about Matfield and Du Preez as captains for the Springboks. It seems that he will then be going the same route as Peter de Villiers in selecting a captain and them 14 players that will have to carry him in the team. Let’s face it John Smit couldn’t make the 2011 World Cup team as a player. So let’s look at the capable captains in the Super rugby and South Africa at the moment.

Joshua Strauss has shown that he can lead a team and keep them calm even when losing 6 games in a row. Adrian Strauss is probably the best captain the Cheetahs have had in years and plays his hard out weekend after weekend. Jean de Villiers has stepped up at the Stormers and has lead them to 6 victories in 7 games. He has also shown in the past that he can do it at international level, taking the Springbok to a historic win in New Zealand after the then captain, Victor Matfield got yellow carded. De Villiers kept his cool and motivated his team mates to keep calm as well.

Schalk Burger is another captain that leads from the front and motivates his team with not only words but the way he plays. Pierre Spies is currently leading a young Bulls team to heights no one expected at the beginning of the season.

Matfield might be a better captain than any of these players, but all of them can make a Springbok team as a player alone. Du Preez was never considered a first or even second choice captain in his time at the Bulls. Not even when Meyer coached them. What makes him such a great captain now?

Meyer would be well advised to rather look to the 2015 World Cup and building a team like Jake White did in 2004-2007 than trying to have immediate success with golden oldie boys. If he wants to do this he must also insure he has a letter from the Old-age Homes clearing them to play. In the end I won’t take that chance. Select the best 22 players and then from them select a captain.

It does however look like Meyer is set to include as many Bulls in his team and management as possible. Springbok fans get ready for some pink jerseys as at this rate we may play against the All Blacks as the All Pinks soon.

Posted by Dave (@djvanman on twitter)

Meyer’s first Springbok training squad dissected

Heyneke Meyer today announced the first of three Springbok training squads in preparation for the Inbound Tours later this year. The squad consists of Cheetahs and Lions players as they have a bye next weekend and the camp will be held from 16-19 April. Two more camps are scheduled with players from the Sharks and Bulls attending between 23-26 April and the Stormers players between 1-3 May.

The players attending the first camp are:
Forwards:
Coenie Oosthuizen, Caylib Oosthuizen, Pat Cilliers, CJ van der Linde, WP Nel, Adriaan Strauss, Bandise Maku, Callie Visagie, Izak van der Westhuizen, Davon Raubenheimer, Franco van der Merwe, Heinrich Brüssow, Derick Minnie, Pieter Labuschagne, Ashley Johnson, Juan Smith, Josh Strauss, Philip van der Walt
Backs:
Piet van Zyl, Michael Bondesio, Johan Goosen, Elton Jantjies, Butch James, Willie le Roux, Andries Strauss, Doppies La Grange, Robert Ebersohn, Alwyn Hollenbach, Lionel Mapoe, Jaco Taute, Hennie Daniller

With only a handful of previous Springboks it will be interesting to see how many of these players do make it into the final Springbok Squad announced the week before the England test. There are many youngsters in this squad and it does look like Meyer has at least some form of planning in place not only for the upcoming tests but also for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Here is my match day 22 selected from the above players:
Forwards:
Coenie Oosthuizen, WP Nel, Pat Cilliers, Adriaan Strauss, Bandise Maku, Izak van der Westhuizen, Pieter Labuschagne, Joshua Strauss, Heinrich Brussow, Ashley Johnson, Franco van der Merwe
Backs
Piet van Zyl, Elton Jantjes, Johan Goosen, Doppies le Grange, Alwyn Hollenbach, Jaco Taute, Willie le Roux, Lionel Mapoe, Andries Strauss

The players to look out for in the final squad will be:
Elton Jantjes, Johan Goosen, Willie le Roux, Doppies le Grange, Alwyn Hollenbach, Joshua Strauss, Adriaan Strauss, Heinrich Brussow, Coenie Oosthuizen, WP Nel, Franco van der Merwe and Pat Cilliers.

Only time will tell, but it is good to see some of the up and coming players making it into the planning phases of Meyer’s squads.

Let me know what you think.

Posted by Dave (@djvanman on twitter)

Posted by Dave (@djvanman on twitter)

Springbok Barometer after Super Rugby round 6

Here is my latest Springbok Barometer. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

1      Steven Kitshoff (Stormers) – The youngster makes it into my team for the second time. He has shown class and strength against the likes of Werner Kruger and since he has packed down for the Stormers their scrum has improved tremendously.

2      Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs) – Many will argue that Bismarck is the better player but over the last couple of weeks Strauss has just become better and better.         He plays his heart out and leads from the front for the Cheetahs. Bismarck and Liebenberg is not far behind him but for now he  will make my team.

3         Werner Kruger (Bulls) – Another player that has come a long way since last season. The Bulls have struggled for a while at 3 and he seems to be the answer. He had a great game on the weekend and stood up well

4         Eben Etzebeth (Stormers) – Another youngster that has come through the ranks in Cape Town. He has made a big impact on the way the Stormers has performed.

5         Juandre Kryger (Bulls) – He made his presence felt in the game against the Stormers and seems to have taken the place of a Bakkies Botha as the hard man in the team. He must just be careful of giving away to many penalties.

6         Heinrich Brussow (Cheetahs) – Currently Heinrich is the only real fwetcher in South African rugby. Players like SIya Kolisi and CJ Stander are more cleaners than fetchers but have shown their worth.

7         Willem Alberts (Sharks) – he has been a big influence for the Sharks since his return. Jacques Potgieter of the Bulls is a close contender, but Alberts has a bit more oomph in this position.

8         Dwayne Vermeulen (Stormers) – Dwayne has played the more consistent rugby  this season, but Pierre Spies and Keegan Daniel are very close for me in this position. A though call.

9         Francois Hougaard (Bulls) – No doubt that he has emerged as the best scrum half currently in South Africa. He has the ability to make sniping breaks and runs like the wind. He cleans out the ball quickly and puts his Fly half on the fron foot.

10     Johan Goosen (Cheetahs) – The youngster has shown that he can defend and attack with the best of them. Yes he has missed some kicks at goal but so has Morne Steyn. His all round game is just that bit better than Steyn’s at the moment.

11     Willie le Roux (Cheetahs) – Another youngster that has burst on to the scene in 2012. He reads the game very well and seems to be the new intercept king in South African rugby. Much like Peter Rossouw of old. And when he goes for the intercept he doesn’t put his team under pressure on defence.

12     Alwyn Hollenbach (Lions) – He showed the weekend that he can play against the top centres in the world and be better than them. He puts the player outside of him away and into the gap with ease. His defence is very good and he is not afraid to take the contact.

13     Johann Sadie (Bulls) – Yes I have shunted thecurrent Springbok centre pair. Sadie has shown against them that his defence is very good and he had them guessing at times on Saturday. This youngster is still going to go a long way in South African rugby.

14     Gio Aplon (Stormers) – This little blitz of a player tackles well above his weight and can run any defence to pieces. He is good under the high ball and has kicking boot on him that stuns most people. And we need the speed on attack.

15     Riaan Viljoen (Sharks) – Riaan has a very big boot on him. His attacking play from the back is better than most and he comes into the line nicely.

16     Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks) – He is a very close second to Strauss and it will between them who takes the Bok jersey as first choice.

17     Dean Greyling (Bulls) – Dean has come a long way this season and has what it takes to compete in the scrum.

18     WP Nell (Cheetahs) – Another player that might as well be in the starting 15 of this team.

19     Ashley Jonshon (Cheetahs) – He is a true impact player and makes a difference whenever he comes onto the field.

20     Dewaldt Duvenhage (stormers) – although not on the level of Hougaard he has the ability to read the game and has shown for the Stormers that he can compete with the best.

21     Morne Steyn (Bulls) – A class player that just lacks that bit on attack at the moment.

22     Lwazi Mvovo (Sharks) – Mvovo just adds that bit of spark on attack. His defence is not always as good and he is still to prove himself under the high ball against a team that follows it up quickly.

Posted by Dave (@djvanman on twitter)

Sharks sinks Brumbies

The Sharks broke a 14 year jinx when they beat the Brumbies 29-26 in Canberra on Saturday. This first victory since 1998 was so much more sweet as it came against former Springbok coach and World Cup winner, Jake White.

The Sharks played with a lot more gusto and determination than last week. The build up pressure and held it which resulted in them getting the scoring opportunities. Their defence was also better this week and the Brumbies were made to work for their points. The Brumbies were always chasing the game even when the were in the lead.

Frederic Michalack opened the scoring with a penalty in the 12th minute but this was cancelled out by Christian Lealiifano a few minutes later. The Sharks again took the game by the scruf and after relentless pressure won a penalty. Charl McLead took a quick tap and Michalak through an over head pass to Riaan Viljoen who finished off with a try. Lealiifano answered with a penalty before the Brumbies took the lead through a Jesse Mogg try. Mogg got the ball from Lealiifano and kicked the ball down field. Odwa Ndungane could field it and Mogg collected to go over. It can be argued that the pass to Mogg was forward but the referee didn’t think so.

Ndungane made up for this mistake when he intercepted a Brumbies pass and nearly went all the way. With three defenders in front he gave the inside ball to Viljoen who went over for his second try. Michalak missed the conversion. Lealiifano regained the lead for the Brumbies before the break through a penalty. The half time score 16-15.

The Sharks started the second half much in the same fashion as the first. Tim Whitehead made a brilliant break only to see the Brumbies tap the ball back. Big Willem Alberts kicked the loose ball forward and went over for his try. The Brumbies clawed back three points and started to take control of possession and territory. They were on the Sharks try-line about to score when they knocked the ball. Keegan Daniel pounced on it and got the ball to Steven Sykes. Sykes ran up the touchline before getting the pass to Lwazi Mvovo. Mvovo finished off the move by scoring the bonus point try.

The Brumbies did get a consolation try through Nic White with a minute to go. They then also rumbled the ball up through several phases to get into the Sharks 22, but the Sharks defence held and forced a Brumbies knock on.

The Sharks will now travel to New Zealand for their last two tour matches. They will have momentum and will hope to build on this performance. The Brumbies will look at the game and wonder how they allowed it to slip from their grasp.

SCORERS
Brumbies – Tries: Jesse Mogg, Nick White. Conversions: Christian Lealiifano (2). Penalties: Lealiifano (4).
Sharks – Tries: Riaan Viljoen (2), Willem Alberts, Lwazi Mvovo. Conversions: Frederic Michalak (3) Penalty: Michalak.

Posted by Dave (@djvanman on twitter)

Stormers clinch nail-biter against Bulls

The Stormers remained unbeaten in this year’s Super Rugby competition after defeating the Bulls in a thrilling North-South derby at Newlands on Saturday night. 48000 spectators witnessed on of the best games played this year and it came down to a single kick in the 76th minute to decide who would reign supreme. This game, as with all local derbies, was not without it’s little niggles and controversy and it added to the excitement and suspense.

The Bulls were greeted by a very vocal Newlands crowd as they ran onto the field in not only pink jerseys, but pink shorts and socks as well. Tiaan Liebenberg led the Stormers onto the field to hugh cheers in his 50th Super Rugby match. And the game was ready to start. Craig Joubert signalled for proceedings to start and immediately Morne Steyn made the first error of the game, kicking straight into touch. Joubert had it his hands full not long after this as it looked like the pot was going to boil over even before the fire got lit. He explained to Jean de Villiers and Pierre Spies, the captains, that he would not tolerate impromptu meetings or tea parties as they were their to play rugby and not for a meet and greet.

The Stormers took control of the first half and never allowed the Bulls to get settled. As expected from a derby like this it took nearly 20 minutes for the first points to be scored as the teams tussled back and forth. Joe Pietersen opened the scoring with a penalty. After that he added 2 more to take the Stormers to a 9-0 lead just before half time. The Stormers however were not going to settle for this and on the stroke of half time Andries Bekker and the forwards rumbled over the Bulls line. Tiaan Liebenberg scoring the first try to make it 14-0 at half time after Pietersen missed the conversion.

At half time Frans Ludeke must have had hard words for his charges and probably read them the riot act or played them the famous Braveheart speech. the Bulls came out to play rugby in the second half. Allister Coetzee and the Stormers will want to look at their clutchplate as once again they slipped a gear at the start of the second half and allowed the Bulls to come back into the game.

Shortly after the restart Flip vd Merwe of the Bulls got yellow carded for playing the man in the air. This came after Joubert had warned them in the first half that the next player would go. It was the third or fourth time this had happened. The Stormers must have thought it was an early christmas present but it turned out that playing with 14 men actually helped the Bulls. They added 10 points before Van der Merwe returned to the field.

Bjorn Basson scored the Bulls’ first try after the Stormers were on attack but the ball got turned over. A hack ahead saw Zane Kirtchner chasing and kicking the ball over the try line with Basson out sprinting the Stormers defence to score. Steyn converted and followed it up with a penalty to bring the scores to 14-10. Pietersen stretched the lead back to 7 points in the 61st minute with a penalty.

The Bulls started stringing phases together and created some space for Wynand Olivier after quick ball from the ruck. The ball got moved to Olivier who went over in the corner. Steyn, who had missed 2 kicks earlier, made no mistake and the scores were level. Suddenly the Stormers got that higher gear to stick and they started to play rugby again. A scrum just inside the Bulls half saw them win a penalty in the 74th minute. Peter Grant stepped up to take this pressure kick and he mad no mistake. The Stormers were back in the lead at 20-17. The Stormers took a leaf from the Bulls manual and kept the ball through their forwards to see out the last couple of minutes and winn the game.

Most Bulls supporters will tell you that the penalty that saw the Stormers win the game was an error and they won’t be wrong. Looking at that scrum Craig Joubert got it wrong and the penalty should have gone to the Bulls. What they won’t tell you is that the try Olivier scored came from a forward pass. The pass that went to Juandre Kruger, who put Olivier away, went a good meter and a half forward but wasn’t picked up by the referee or his assistants. Craig Joubert and his assistants had a pretty good game bar these two incidents.

The Stormers are still struggling to get going after the break and in every game this season allowed teams to came back in that first 20 minutes after the break. Maybe they should just stay on the field and have the coaches come down to them to have the team talk. What ever they do, they need to sort this passage of play out and do it quickly.

The Bulls in their all-pink outfits must be careful of the style police. Hannon, South Africa’s Glam Guru, will have a fit if he sees them. The jerseys, shorts and socks in pink is all fine and good but please wear black boots only. The multi-coloured boots didn’t look good and like my 5 year old daughter had put it: “Daddy don’t they know orange doesn’t go with pink”.

In the end a thrilling game that came down to the last couple of minutes and as predicted down to a single kick. I for one can’t wait for the return fixture at Loftus Versfeld in June.

SCORERS
DHL Stormers – Try: Tiaan Liebenburg. Penalties: Joe Pietersen (4), Peter Grant.
Vodacom Bulls – Bjorn Basson, Wynand Olivier. Conversions: Morne Steyn (2). Penalty: Steyn.

Posted by Dave (@djvanman on twitter)

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