The bones were denied a first full house of the season with four pathetic attempts at a tackle.
It wasn’t the hardest week to throw the bones and we at Keo.co.za were confident that the season percentages would get a pick me up with this round of fixtures.
To call victory for the Crusaders, Waratahs, Reds and Brumbies was not rocket science, although we did say the Sharks would run the Brumbies close and there wouldn’t be six points in it.
We also said the Bulls would break the Highlanders hoodoo and the Stormers would get a first home win. We wrote that the Stormers would win because of passion, more than skill.
And allied to this would be a Hurricanes team that does not travel as well as they play at home.
Everything was on track for five matches and 79 minutes. Then De Wet Barry shot out of line on defence, the Hurricanes made some yardage and between them, Peter Grant, Rayno Benjamin, Ross Skeate and Chumani Booi literally picked Hosea Gear up and piggybacked him onto the tryline.
It was abysmal defence in the last minute of the match. You take the defence of the Bulls in the last two minutes against the Highlanders. The Bulls were defending a seven point lead and knew that even a converted try would not mean they would lose. But they threw everything at the Highlanders. It was heroic stuff and smacked of a team playing for each other.
Then you take the Stormers effort. The pretty boys of the competition played like pretty boys in the last five minutes. There was nothing desperate about the defence. If the four missed tackles were a result of over commitment, you could still excuse it. But they were lame efforts in the context of the game. This was the defining moment of their season.
They can’t make the play-offs now. That not one of the four could make that tackle was inexcusable. There is no defence to that stuff up.
Just like there is no defence to the 80 minutes the Cats put in at the office.
Cats CEO Andy Turner’s ramblings in the media at the weekend were almost as pathetic as his team’s effort. To even try and justify a 50-3 defeat was laughable.
Turner tried to tell the media that Frans Ludeke rates as one of the top three coaches in the country. Well, then the knee deep situation we find ourselves in has suddenly become neck deep.
A sweet guy and likeable character, Ludeke’s coaching in Super rugby has shown more vulnerability than promise. He now has two wins in 16 attempts.
The Sharks were the biggest disappointment in that they got themselves into a winning position, but then showed nothing in the last half an hour to suggest they could win.
Dick Muir has introduced more freedom in their play, but when the heat was on in the final two minutes they did not back their players to win the game. They relied on one off runners for 11 phases, in which time they advanced their field position 11 metres. Then George Smith turned over the ball and the game was over.
It was the kind of attack you find in a team that doesn’t believe it has the strike power to break down defences. It was typically South Africa and typically it failed. They tried to beat the opposition into submission when something a bit more creative may have proved a bit more lucrative.
Once again there were few standout performers and even fewer of Jake White’s national squad stood taller than their regional teammates.
White’s guarantees to these players that they will be picked in June is having an adverse effect on their performances. Most of White’s squad are playing like guys who know that they will be in the national squad, whatever their form in Super 14.
They are playing like blokes pacing themselves for the more aspirational test season. Unlike the bones, who have lifted their game in the last two weeks to record 10/12 and up the season’s percentages to 67.
Week 1: 4/7
Week 2: 4/7
Week 3: 4/7
Week 4: 5/6
Week 5: 5/6
Total: 22/33 = 67 percent (and climbing)