The bones recorded a season high with five from six picks. But nothing could excuse or explain the stumbling Stormers.
The Cats were as awful as expected. The Sharks were predictably comfortably beaten, the Stormers were never in the game and the Cheetahs had to rely on a combination of Hurricanes complacency and their own spirit to overcome a 25-10 deficit and beat the Hurricanes 27-25.
The Cheetahs victory was deserved because they showed an ability to play to the 80th minute, unlike the other SA teams who think the game is made up of one quarter and not four.
The Cats look like a side that will have to wait for the match against the Farce to double their wins for the year, while the Sharks have shown enough to suggest they will get a couple of wins once they’re back in South Africa.
The Stormers have no price on the competition, although their draw is such a favourable one this will definitely be the season of ‘what could have been’. They get the Cats in Jhb and Force in Perth as away games. To have cashed in on this, they needed to win their home games.
The Cheetahs, too, will struggle when they go on the road. They don’t have the depth in their squad to survive a month overseas. Every home win must be cherished.
Currently, the Cats are favourites to go down and it would be deserving given their abysmal run in the tournament.
The Spears will be no better, but it does give the Cats a chance to rest after constant beatings.
The Stormers, largely because of the draw, the Cheetahs and the Sharks will be safe, while the Bulls will be the best of the SA sides, even if their best is unlikely to get them a top four finish.
Looking at the weekend’s form, it was once again difficult to actually pick a form XV. So we didn’t because it would be an abuse of the term form.
Players who excelled included Juan Smith (Cheetahs), Ronnie Cooke (Cheetahs), AJ Venter and Albert van den Berg (Sharks). Ruan Pienaar (Sharks) was decent, while Bolla Conradie and Luke Watson showed the most energy for a stale Stormers side.
As for the Cats, Earl Rose has enthusiasm and a willingness to try things. He boxes above his weight and if he got some of his teammates to do the same it could be a lot different for the Cats.
This won’t happen and the next few weeks will only get longer for the Johannesburg boys on tour. They can’t blame the regional make-up any more. They can’t blame the Cheetahs influence. I look forward to their excuses and continued lack of accountability.
Week one: 4/7
Week two: 4/7
Week three: 4/7
Week four: 5/6