Pressure and mistakes
It's not a nice title I know, because it easy to talk about hopes and dreams and what may have been, but not easy to talk about the hard stuff, the grit that you need just to survive, not even thrive.
The Cheetahs and the Griquas are at the bottom of the Currie Cup log because when they needed to, they couldn't dig deep enough. The Griquas played way above their station though -- with a few free-running, creative backs, an accurate boot and a contesting presence at ruck and tackle, they managed to make a season of it and only the returning Springboks of the big boys, mainly the Sharks, actually turned them into the 'also-ran' outfit they look like now.
The Cheetahs have been up and down -- again. They won't look back on the season as one they are proud of, they folded like a house of cards against the WP on Saturday, barely putting up a fight, the very idea of attacking rugby only entered their game play in the 58th minute and it wasn't till later that it was converted. They will have to fight it out with the Kings -- home and away -- and they had better prepare themselves for a good and proper fight.
The Kings are still way below Super Rugby standard, but if they want to lure players from the Lions and the Cheetahs, they could use that as extra motivation to keep them in the Eastern Cape -- Super Rugby and Currie Cup Premier division has a much better ring to it for a long-term contract than 'I am not sure till after July'!
The semifinals are set up to be cracker games, and the droves of people will be there. It's full on, best on best, no holds barred Currie Cup action, I can't wait and I think it has been an enlightening competition to get us there.
I enjoyed the way Morne Steyn played when his team needed to score some points. He grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and moved to put pressure on when it was needed. He was up against Butch James, who proved there is life in the old dog yet; he was all over the field asking contributions, putting in hits, chips and importantly goal kicks when needed.
Fantastic fire to both of their games, the Lions were out pressured, the turning points were the ungathered kick-off, the messed up quick line-out and the intercept try -- all inexperience, and the rampant Bulls took the opportunities and proved they deserve to be in the playoffs.
The Sharks were dominant against Griquas from the get go, and will be a hard team to bully in the semis. It is going to be a huge clash against the Blue Bulls and one that I am looking forward too.
WP started to play some rugby. Lots of good looking tries and counter attacks, lots of options to use on both sides and a very dominant line-out will see them going to Johannesburg to face the Lions with the goal of a repeat performance -- also not a game to miss. There are reputations on the line and I think the end-of-year UK squad will be fine-tuned by how these players stand up to their big challenges. Mouth-watering stuff.
With all the running rugby happening it's time to reflect on the best tries of the year at SuperSport. It's time to let the fans do the voting, and you can participate here....
Players of the year awards, titles and tries are all going to be celebrated as the Boks leave for their overseas trip, exciting times in the next few weeks, hold on to your seat!