Sunday 6 May 2007

Springboks on the rise

The final round of the Super 14 was played out this weekend, the four semi-finalists decided in the last round of matches. It's been an odd tournament, with New Zealand taking their All Blacks out of the competition for a pre-world cup training camp their Super 14 teams started slowly. Which is still better than the Aussies, who just never got going at all. With the absence of a significant threat from the criminal element and with the best players in New Zealand out on national duty the teams from Afrique du Sud took full advantage of the situation. Usually poor to dire in this competition South Africa is providing two of the four semi-finalists this year, their Bulls and Sharks being complemented in the knock-out stages by the ever-present Crusaders and a resurgent Blues, both from New Zealand.

So what exactly does this mean for the Tri-Nations and the World Cup? Well on the back of the South African performance in the Super 14 they have displaced Ireland and France as the favourites to topple New Zealand. The Springboks have always had the size and aggression up front to compete with the blackness (something notably lacking in the Ireland team) but never had the brains to deal with the clinical New Zealand backline effectively. This year has seen the Boks play to their strengths, expect an adoption of Munster-esque tactics by South Africa for the World Cup, kicking the corners and letting Matfield and Botha do their thing at second row.
Look for more confidence and creativity in the backline too, Du Preez has had a storming Super 14 campaign and the South African back three are frighteningly fast (note: Habana vs. Cheetah in that vid).
Btw I call Sharks to beat the Blues and Crusaders to upset the Bulls (just cos Mccaw is god)

1. Sharks
2. Bulls
3. Crusaders
4. Blues

5. Brumbies
6. Chiefs
7. W.Force
8. Hurricanes
9. Highlanders
10. Stormers
13. Cheetahs
12. Lions
11. Waratahs
14. Reds


David said...

I see what you're saying,

but to follow the logic: England have two finalists in the heineken cup, and the Irish provinces went out early. Does that mean England will do better than predicted at World cup, and Ireland will do worse?

Macka said...

well now to be fair the Irish teams, both provincial and international have been underperforming imo. And ye I could easily see us being turned over by the French and Argentines.
England can only get better too.

Finally, the heineken cup is useless for determining the strength of France or England because not all of their internationals play in it.

Also because England have two teams in the final does not mean they're any good. On the other hand the sud afrikan teams in the super 14 semis are very much there on merit.

My logic is south african teams playing well=better springboks team, not south african teams doing well=better springboks

Macka said...

I realise i shouldn't have started that second paragragh with 'finally' considering i went on for another two after that but I'm too lazy to erase it and write it again

David said...

right, i get ya.