Next week’s Super Rugby Final in Sydney will be about more than just the Super Rugby trophy, it will be a precursor to The Rugby Championship as well.
The Wallabies take on the All Blacks in Sydney on 16 August in what could be a deciding match to determine who will win The Rugby Championship crown for 2014.
Sorry, it doesn’t cut it for me to hear people state upon their crushing exit on Saturday from Super Rugby 2014: “Well done Sharks, at least you got to the Semis.”
If they are simply putting it in the context of their superior performance in relation to the other South African sides, my retort is “big deal”.
This was a year, after all, when the collective SA challenge was lamentably disappointing and our teams hogged the basement terrain on the overall table.
No one needs to tell the Crusaders how to prepare for big games. They have been masters at it over the years.
But they of all people will know the brilliant semifinal victory over the Sharks is a false read – the South Africans were an embarrassing mess in Christchurch.
New Zealand exhales. Turns out rumours of the decline of Richie McCaw and Daniel Carter have been greatly exaggerated.
McCaw and Carter both produced timely high-quality performances in Christchurch tonight as the Crusaders won through to their 11th – yes, 11th – Super Rugby final with a 38-6 dismantling of the Sharks. The Red ‘n Blacks are now 80 minutes away from their eighth championship – but notably a first since 2008.
On a night when Kieran Read illuminated the big occasion with a stellar demonstration of his remarkable quality, and Fijian find of the year Nemani Nadolo was equally as destructive, the old soldiers McCaw and Carter were not a million miles off the standard set by the best player in the world.
With Read, this sort of stuff is as predictable as it is enjoyable. He is a colossus of the game completely at the peak of his powers. His every minute on the field these days is to be savoured.
Crusaders (16) 38 / 6 (6) Sharks (Final Score)
The Crusaders and the Cell C Sharks did battle in the one Semi-Final of Super Rugby 2014 at
AMI Stadium, Christchurch at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time (07:35 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1, SHD & M-Net on TV in SA.
Corey Flynn’s journey to tonight’s semifinal, his 150th match for the Crusaders and a clash against Bismarck du Plessis, considered the best hooker in the world, has been a long and often painful one.
There have been the five broken arms which would have forced many to think about packing it in. Not Flynn, though. He has been in and out of the All Blacks – painful in itself, but he believes his many injuries have given him the mental strength to handle it.
It is the Semi-Finals of Super Rugby 2014 this weekend! We have only the 2 Semi-Final games in this Round, as all the other 11 teams have now been dispatched. Both games take place on Saturday 27 July 2014.
It is crunch time, as only the winners advance to the Final on 2 August 2014.
The Crusaders and Waratahs host the Semi-Finals, as top contenders on the Combined Super Rugby Log. The challengers are the Cell C Sharks and the Brumbies, who have had to travel in order to see if they can advance against strong home ground advantage, for the Final.
Only 3 Super Rugby games for 2014 remain!
Bonus points for tries and losses within 7 now does not matter anymore, all that is needed is a win.
Let the games continue….
You can attribute a large part of the Highlanders’ demise last week to their struggles at scrum time against the Sharks.
This was reminiscent, too, of the way the Crusaders succumbed to a short-staffed Sharks team in Christchurch during round robin play.
So, without resorting to the obvious, it is vital that the Crusaders avoid getting dragged into a set-piece arm wrestle against the same opposition tomorrow.
They’re 10,966 kilometres from home and massive outsiders for Saturday night’s Super Rugby semi-final, but Sharks coach Jake White thinks conditions could play into his side’s hands.
The Durban-based team know if they want any chance of stunning the Crusaders for the second time this season, they need to stick to their strengths.
On a cold Christchurch night, the Sharks will be aiming to retain possession, build up pressure and utilise their dominant scrum and rolling maul.
The long kicking games of fullback SP Marais and backline general Francois Steyn will also be integral as they seek to play the game in the right areas of the field.
Rugby-Talk’s SuperBru competition for the 2014 Super Rugby tournament is drawing to a close with only three matches remaining.
In last week’s Qualifying rounds JohnR earned the yellow cap with a solid 5 pointer moving him up 12 places to 31st. Carol still leads the pack of hungry wolves chasing at her heels, but refuses to relinquish her coveted 1st spot. Sharks_Lover is still a close second, with less than a point separating the two.
Both Winston Champ and Charo at 3 and 4 respectively have fallen slightly off the pace, with 3,5 and 5,2 points separating them from Carol.
Before making those SuperBru predictions, let’s have a look at some picks, tips and predictions first.
Is Jake White trying to get his excuses in early should his Shark team lose against the Crusaders on Saturday?
If his tactics against the last placed SA conference side, the Cheetahs, hadn’t backfire and the Sharks were victorious, they would have had the week off and played the semi final at home.
Would he have complained about the format then?
When his Bok team won the 2007 World Cup they did so without having to face either the All Blacks or the Wallabies. White never complained about the format being skewed did he? No, he benefitted and rightly so, the rules are the rules.
The Cell C Sharks team named by Director of Rugby Jake White shows a number of changes from last week’s line-up, albeit not in any major disruptive way as the team prepare for Saturday’s Vodacom semi-final showdown with the Crusaders, reports Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick.
With Anton Bresler falling foul to a knee injury against the Highlanders in last week’s quarter-final win at Kings Park and not making the journey to New Zealand, Willem Alberts shifts from flank to the second row, with his place on the side of the scrum taken by Jean Deysel.
Richie McCaw has been named at blindside flanker and Corey Flynn will start his 150th Super Rugby match when the Crusaders meet the Sharks in Saturday night’s semifinal in Christchurch.
All Blacks captain McCaw, who hasn’t played since carrying a fractured rib into the third test against England on 21 June, has predictably been named at blindside flanker to allow the in-form Matt Todd to start in his specialist openside flanker role.
Flynn has been elevated ahead of Ben Funnell, who started the previous two matches against the Highlanders and Blues, in the only other change to the run-on side that thumped the Highlanders 34-8 at AMI Stadium on 12 July.
Former All Blacks fullback Greg Cooper can’t believe Nemani Nadolo is yet to unwrap one of his deadliest tricks.
Cooper, who coaches Nadolo at his Japanese club NEC Green Rockets, hasn’t been surprised the Fijian wing has been a sensation at the Crusaders this season but reckons he can offer even more.
While everyone knows how effective Nadolo can be with the ball in hand, Cooper says one of the best ways to expose defences is to sling cross-kicks to his left wing and reckons there is an 80 per cent chance of scoring if it is executed correctly.
“He is the best winger I have ever seen when taking the ball from cross-kicks,” Cooper, speaking from Japan, emphasised.
Former Sharks assistant coach Chris Boyd doesn’t expect to see the South African side resorting to cynical behaviour or niggle to unsettle the Crusaders.
The Sharks caused a 30-25 boilover when the teams last met in Christchurch in May but they had to do it the hard way, playing 64 minutes with 14 men.
Poor discipline plagued the Sharks with loose forward Jean Deysel sent off after stamping on the face of Crusaders opposite Jordan Taufua. Fellow flanker Willem Alberts was sinbinned in the second half for a professional foul.
Boyd, who will coach the Hurricanes next season, was an assistant at the Sharks in 2009 and 2010 under John Plumtree.
Prior to our 1995 World Cup-winning campaign, the late Kitch Christie told us during one particular team meeting that we could either take the high road or the low road to reach the knockout phase writes Brendan Venter.
While we followed the former path having defeated Australia in our opening match, the Sharks’ class of 2014 have taken the latter route. Although more arduous, nothing is impossible in the oval game.
The Cell C Sharks face a daunting task this weekend, there is no doubt about that, and not many will deny that the Crusaders at home are clear cut favorites.
Having to travel to New Zealand to face a Crusader side laden with 18 All Black players in their squad should spell defeat to the side from Durban.
During the build up to this weekend’s match, cliches aplenty will be bandied about and should include phrases like “backs to the wall”, “underdog”, “nothing to lose”. All true and apt, but therein lies the rub.
Wyatt Crockett sounds like a physics teacher as tries to de-mystify the complicated task of demolishing the Sharks’ mauls.
Few things are as difficult to stop as a turbo-charged lineout drive, yet Crockett emphasises that if the Crusaders’ forwards are organised they should fear little in Saturday night’s Super Rugby semifinal at AMI Stadium.
Splintering a maul, usually off a lineout, requires technique and a pinch of luck, as well as a referee who can spot a dodgy truck-and-trailer routine.
It would seem like Jake White has been listening to and reading the opinion of bloggers on rugby sites. He certainly has a point when during an interview with a New Zealand radio station he mentioned that he also preferred the older versions of the Super Rugby competition.
The majority of the rugby viewing public feel the same way as White and would by no means complain if the tournament is reduced back to the Super 12 or even the Super 14 format.
Jake White is concerned Super Rugby is going down the wrong road as they expand the competition to eighteen teams from 2016′s season.
Tabai Matson would hoot with laughter if a Sharks’ insider offered to sell Jake White’s game plans this week.
Crusaders defence coach Matson expects nothing tricky from Sharks coach White in Saturday night’s Super Rugby semifinal and anyone trying to convince him otherwise risks being dispatched with a sharp tap to the temple.
“His [White] team plays to their strengths and they are very clinical with what they do,” Matson says. “They have a few things on the menu and they cook it very well.”
The Cell C Sharks squad that has made the long trek to New Zealand to face the Crusaders in the semi final clash in Christchurch on Saturday, is missing some key players.
The Sharks will spend a week in Christchurch preparing for their Super Rugby semifinal against the Crusaders.
“We’ve got some great memories there — a couple of months ago we had a great time,” White said.
“I think it would be disrespectful not to get to New Zealand straight away. I’m old school and I think if you’re going to play in that country you’ve got to live in that country.”
The real Beast roaming around the Super Rugby rugby fields, is Sharks captain Bismarck du Plessis.
The bloke next to him at loosehead prop, Tendai Mtawarira, is dubbed “the Beast” who provokes rumbling shows of affection from supporters when he heads off on a run.
His impact, though, is cosmetic compared with Du Plessis.
The Sharks left for New Zealand early Monday morning. They boarded the plane carrying the hopes of their countless supporters, and the hopes of the nation on their shoulders. According to most naysayers, they might have well forfeited the match and stayed at home.
We have heard the same comments and mumblings before, remember when the Sharks left for the overseas leg of their tour? “No chance, they will never beat the Crusaders in Christchurch”
The Waratahs and Crusaders will be heavily favoured to advance to a Sydney final, but the two Vodacom Super Rugby play-off qualifiers played this weekend did breathe some much needed life into a competition that is sometimes accused of being too predictable.
As expected, the home teams did advance to next week’s round of semifinals, but it was a close run thing in both Canberra and Durban. More than that, the quality of rugby produced, and the entertainment value, was just what the doctor would have ordered if the goal of a medical consultation was to find out what could increase interest for the remaining two weeks.
Of the two winning teams, the Brumbies and the Sharks, it is the former who should go into the semifinals feeling most upbeat. They relaxed when they thought they had the game won and the Chiefs showed their championship qualities one last time before eventually conceding their run of success had come to an end by launching a brave, gutsy and classy fightback.
Once condemned to playing catch-up, the Chiefs produced some of their best rugby in a while, and may well have won had they shown just a bit of temperance in their commitment to attack, for it was their tendency to concede penalties in their own half by trying to play too much rugby there that cost them the game.
Jake White believes the Sharks can win in Christchurch for the second time this season.
The Sharks beat the Highlanders 31-27 at Kings Park on Saturday to set up a semi-final showdown with the Crusaders. While the long plane trip will count against White’s side, he believes they can win in Christchurch on Saturday, having done so earlier in the season when they played most of the match with 14 men.
“It’s an 80-minute run and if we play well we can win, and I have to believe that,” said White.
“The Highlanders flew in from the other side of the world and came within four points of beating us. They came sixth on the log and we came third.”