SA teams shouldn’t count their chickens yet

The Bulls will host the Crusaders and the Stormers will take on the Waratahs in front of a home crowd in next weekend’s semi-finals.


The Waratahs and Crusaders who, with the Bulls and the Stormers, are the two other finalists, have suddenly shown their best qualities and seem to be peaking at exactly the right time.

 

Their form has been strong so it would be premature to start planning attendance at an all-South African final in two weeks time.

 

The Bulls could be caught cold after enjoying a weekend off and the Stormers have not been terribly impressive for a full match since they beat the Chiefs in Round 10.

 

In regular round matches the Bulls needed an extra time try to beat the Crusaders at fortress Loftus but the Stormers beat the Waratahs 27-6 in Round 2.

The Waratahs were solid and put up an exhilarating and very competent performance as they dissected the Hurricanes 32-16 in Sydney on Friday.


They scored four tries to one and were in control from the word go against a Hurricanes side which was also vying for a semi-final place when they ran on.


Kurtley Beale and Drew Mitchell scored the Waratahs’ tries, but it was their scrum which impressed most as the forwards laid the platform on which their backs revelled.


The Stormers are in for a hard slog before they can progress to their first final.


If they play the kind of rugby which swept the young Bulls side away in the first 15 minutes or so, they have nothing to fear – but they will have to keep it up for longer and remain honest in the tight phases, where the young Bulls won virtually as much possession as the Cape side.


As for the Bulls, they have tremendous depth – but the initial pace and power of the Stormers obviously caught their less experienced players unaware in a team selection which will stand them in good stead in the near future.


The Stormers won the clash at Newlands 38-10.


– In Christchurch, there was no holding the Crusaders. After they were demolished by the Stormers at Newlands two weeks ago, the Crusaders were rather unfortunate not to beat the Bulls last weekend in what was a much improved performance.


They continued to build on that Loftus performance on Friday and were simply in a different league from the Brumbies who must have been confident of giving them a good run if not beating them.


The score was 40-22 – and, added to the five tries scored by the Crusaders, there was the obvious intent to get their act together.


The Bulls will have to be at their best in Orlando on Saturday against a side which has played in the last nine semi-finals and in a total of 12 of the 13 Super semis contested to date. Their seven titles also tell a story of a proud team which, over the years, have come to view the Super 14 title as their right.


– The Cheetahs played probably their best match of the season and, difficult as it is to make the judgement, the Lions were close to their poorest in the Cheetahs’ 59-10 win in Welkom.


Drastic action with the acquisition of class players high on the list is necessary to turn things around for the Lions who battled to their 13 losses from 13 matches with mostly average players who simply cannot be improved by coaching.


Without bolstering the playing personnel the supporters’ heartaches are unlikely to change.


The Cheetahs, effectively the Free State side, strengthened by a few good Griquas players, showed enough on Saturday – and in fact over the past weeks – to indicate that they will again be a force in the Currie Cup competition, where they have played in five of the last six finals.


They handled and supported well against poor defence, but nine tries are not easy to come by.


The victory gave the Cheetahs five wins, equalling their best, and moved them to tenth place o

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