Has the Brumbies’ loss to the Force given the Cheetahs a chance at doing the impossible and reaching the Super Rugby 2013 semi-finals? Jake White’s men have performed consistently this year, and their conservative approach, built on solid basics and strong defense, has propelled them to the top of the Australian conference (3rd overall), but their slip up last week revealed a chink in the armor – possibly as a result of many of their players doing international duty against the British & Irish Lions and returning fatigued.
The Cheetahs on the other hand have had a weeks break after a fortuitously-timed bye and they also come off a quality victory over a strong Blues team. The last time the two teams met in Canberra the match was decided by a dubious last-minute scrum penalty, which the Brumbies converted to win a game they probably should have lost. But this was last year, and this year’s Brumbies are a much better side.
The Brumbies play a very conservative South Africa-style game, where they play in the opposition half and try and feed off mistakes. The Cheetahs play a similar game but are a bit more adventurous – and why wouldn’t they with runners like Piet van Zyl, Robert Ebersohn, Raymond Rhule, Sarel pretorius and Willie Le Roux in the backline. The Brumbies also have good runners, but prefer a more direct and physical approach through Tevita Kuridrani, Pat McCabe and Henry Speight.
Both teams are pretty evenly match when it comes to the booming boot from the back. Hennie Daniller and Jesse Mogg are well known for their long range touch finders, but Mogg is far superior when it comes to running and tackling, which could give the Brumbies the edge.
Rugby matches are won up front and gain both teams are well matched. Jake White has instilled a South African hardness to the pack to complement their skillful backs. Upfront Wallabies Stephen Moore and Ben Alexander take on Springboks Coenie Oosthuizen and Adriaan Strauss. The battle of heavies, not only in the collisions but in the set pieces as well, will go a long way to determining the winner.
And then there are the fetchers: the old master takes on the current king of slowing the ball down. George Smith has had a profound return to Super Rugby, which eventually earned him a recall to the Australian national side. He might be a little slower and a little chunkier, but his rugby brain is as fit as ever. He has had some match winning performances this year and is probably one of the reasons a relatively young side with few test representatives was far and above the best Australian side in 2013.
His opponent, Brussouw has receive equal blessings however, and will be out to show Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer that he is more than just a walking penalty. Brussouw has been equally, if not more, important to the Cheetahs than Smith has been to Brumbies. His ground work, running and tireless defence, as well as leadership have been one of the pillars the most successful Cheetahs’ season in history has been built on. He deserves to at least be in a Bok squad and this weekend he will show why.
A game with two such even matched sides at a neutral venue would surely be a draw, but home-ground advantage could just tip this one in favour of the Brumbies. The Cheetahs will need to rack up most of their points in the first half, as the will more than likely tire toward the end of the game – although their bye could help in this regard.
Whatever the outcome, this match promises to be a cracker. The Brumbies are looking to imitate the greats of the past (coaches George Gregan and Stephen Larkham) and the fairy tale Cheetahs are out to make history for a region who arguably produce the best rugby players in the world most consistently. Whoever you support and wherever you are you better watch this match and please, enjoy!
Last five results
10 Mar 2012 Brumbies v Cheetahs 24-23 Canberra
29 Apr 2011 Brumbies v Cheetahs 36-47 Bloemfontein
10 Apr 2010 Brumbies v Cheetahs 61-15 Canberra
04 Apr 2009 Brumbies v Cheetahs 40-27 Bloemfontein
21 Mar 2008 Brumbies v Cheetahs 29-23 Canberra
Brumbies overall record against the Cheetahs
Played 7 ,Wins 5 ,Losses 2 ,Draws 0
Date : Sunday, 21 July, 2013
Venue : Canberra Stadium, Canberra, Australia
Kick Off : (1610 local, 1810 NZT, 0810 SAT, 0610 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant Ref 1: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia),
Assistant Ref 2:James Leckie (Australia)
TMO : Matt Goddard (Australia)
1. Scott Sio,2. Stephen Moore,3. Ben Alexander,4. Scott Fardy ,5. Sam Carter,6. Peter Kimlin,7. George Smith,8. Ben Mowen (c),9. Nic White,10. Matt Toomua,11. Clyde Rathbone,12. Christian Lealiifano,13. Tevita Kuridrani,14. Henry Speight,15. Jesse Mogg
Replacements : 16. Siliva Siliva,17. Ruan Smith,18. Fotu Auelua,19. Colby Faingaa,20. Ian Prior,21. Andrew Smith,22. Joe Tomane
15. Hennie Daniller, 14.Willie le Roux, 13.Johann Sadie, 12. Robert Ebersohn (VC) , 11.Raymond Rhule , 10. Riaan Smit, 9. Piet van Zyl, 8. Philip van der Walt, 7.Lappies Labuschagne, 6. Heinrich Brussow, 5. Ligtoring Landman, 4. Lodewyk de Jager, 3. Lourens Adriaanse, 2. Adriaan Strauss (C), 1.Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16. Ryno Barnes, 17. Trevor Nyakane, 18.Waltie Vermeulen, 19. Boom Prinsloo, 20.Sarel Pretorius, 21. Elgar Watts, 22.Ryno Benjamin
|20 July||Crusaders||v||Reds||AMI Stadium, Addington Christchurch||09:35 CAT (08:35 BST)|
|21 July||Brumbies||v||Cheetahs||Canberra Stadium, Canberra||08:10 CAT (07:10 BST)|
Tries: Nic White, Peter Kimlin
Conversion: Christian Lealiifano
Tries: Reynold Lee-lo, TJ Perenara
Conversions: Beauden Barrett (2)
Penalty: Barrett (3)
There are probably many reasons why the Stormers and the Sharks haven’t managed to put together a string of impressive performances in this year. The fact is, the season is already over for them, which is unacceptable. The fans demand results, something’s got to change.
The Currie Cup finalists of 2012 went into the 2013 season with high expectations, especially with the Stormers flirting with Super Rugby glory over the past few years. Instead, both teams have stuttered to 10th (Sharks) and 11th (Stormers) place after 14 rounds. Only the Kings lie below them on the South African conference table. From having 3 sides represent South Africa in the overall top 6 last year, it seems we’re destined to send the Bulls unaccompanied into play-offs this year.
Injuries and a tough fixture list have undoubtedly played a huge role in the dismal campaign of both teams. While the Stormers had a tough start to the competition, the Sharks growing injury list has outgrown every team this year. You could basically form a decent starting XV with their injured players at the moment. Injuries are uncontrollable, but tweaking a game plan and shifting playing mentality are possible solutions to a flailing season. Maybe it’s time to inject some youthful exuberance into the match day 22 – after all, the season can’t get any worse.
I don’t think a change in Stormer’s management is needed, nor is it time to hit the panic stations. Western Province won the Currie Cup with a bunch of youthful players hungry for success. Maybe, instead of bringing in players from outside the WPRU Union (Jebb Sinclair, Schalk Brits and now Marius Coetzer), investment should be made in unleashing our own fresh talent.
The Sharks and Stormers are back at home now. It goes without saying they both need to finish strong to keep the hordes of naysayers at bay.
Andries Bekker joins De Kock Steenkamp and Rynhardt Elstadt on the Stormers second row injury list, which has necessitated a call up for veteran lock Marius Coetzer to join up with the men from Cape Town.
“He is an experienced player who has played more than 100 first class games and we are going to need him because we already have our reserve lock playing on Saturday now,” said Stormers’ coach Alistair Coetzee.
But when it rains it pours as Deon Fourie (broken ribs), Frans Malherbe (torn ankle ligament) and Pat Cilliers (ankle injury) have also been ruled out for extended periods of time.
“Frans flew home with the injury from Australia without knowing about it. We have only picked it up since we returned. He will be out for at least 10 weeks as he gets operated on tomorrow (Wednesday),” said Coetzee after a Stormers training session on Tuesday.
“As you know, Andries has had problems with his back in the past. This time though it is a disc in the lower part of his back that is giving him trouble. He will be out for a minimum of six weeks. These injuries are all massive complications for us as it disrupts continuity and we have several new combinations playing for us now, but at the same time new players bring energy and we felt it in training this afternoon.”
Other players who did not train Tuesday include Juan de Jongh and Scarra Ntubeni.
The only good news the Stormers received is that Tiaan Liebenberg is eventually back from a long injury layoff.
“Tiaan brings experience and it was good to hear his voice again at training today,” said Coetzee.
If the Stormers win another game this season they will be pretty lucky. Expect serious damage control in their remaining matches, but going into their shell could be the last thing they need.