Springbok coach Jake White will be breathing easier after Meyer Bosman’s display against the Stormers.
Bosman was the shining light in the weekend’s Vodacom Super 14 matches and eased the woes around the flyhalf position.
White has admitted on several occasions during the past fortnight that the flyhalf situation was a concern, especially with Andre Pretorius not having played because of injury and Jaco van der Westhuyzen only expected to play in a fortnight. Bosman had been erratic up until Saturday’s clinical display against the Stormers. The young Bok flyhalf had mixed the good with the ordinary in his previous matches, but on Saturday he showed the calmness of an old pro and the touches that saw White draft him into the Bok test side, despite him never having started a senior match for Free State.
Bosman’s performance with the boot and his general display will give White comfort and will probably ensure greater investment in the 21 year-old utility back.
Peter Grant, at the Stormers, has offered solidity and not much more. On Saturday he produced his worst display of the season, was substituted at halftime and then made to watch as Naas Olivier’s willingness to attack the gain line started to give the Stormers backs an edge. Bet on Olivier or Van der Westhuyzen (if he does eventually make it to the Stormers) starting at No 10 on the overseas trip.
Derick Hougaard has been outstanding with his goalkicking at Loftus. Hougaard has goaled 21 from 22 in his last three matches. His defence has been good, but he still doesn’t do enough on attack to keep the defence guessing. Hougaard will play for South Africa if White decides a kicking game is what will win him the World Cup. It is a big IF because White has never been a Hougaard fan. Hougaard will find that he is still low on the list of flyhalf candidates with White preferring Van der Westhuyzen, Pretorius, Bosman, Percy Montgomery and even Jean de Villiers as options.
Talking of De Villiers. He started to look good once Olivier moved to flyhalf, while Schalk Burger was definitely more effective playing at No 8. Schalk Brits’s general play was once again good. He is a fantastic footballer, as shown with his try, but he still let himself down early on with some erratic throwing in at the lineout. White again is not a great fan of Brits’s and has pin pointed flaws in his basics as a hooker. Any opinion is subjective. White is right that Brits can improve certain basics, but he is wrong to ignore the obvious talent of this guy. He does add a dimension to any team’s attack.
Among the Cheetahs, Juan Smith was the best until forced from the field with injury. And the prognosis on him did not appear good, while Os du Randt had a big game at Newlands.
Other individuals to play well were JP Pietersen (Sharks fullback), the Ndungane brothers, Bryan Habana (even if he still gets exposed when coming in off his wing), Craig Davidson, Victor Matfield, John Smit and AJ Venter. As a team effort, none beat the Sharks who really got their act together. Credit to the coaching staff and to the influence of senior players Smit and Venter. The latter has been in fine form all tour, while Smit emphasised his class with his first start of the season.
There was very little to get excited about in the Cats 43-15 defeat against the Crusaders. Wikus van Heerden got through an enormous amount of slog and grind, but then he always does and Klein-Jan Tromp had a decent first half before injury forced him out of the tour. Gerhard Vosloo showed commitment and so did the entire team for an hour. But then the class of the Crusaders took control of the battered Cats and the last quarter was always going to be one-sided for the Crusaders and messy for the Cats.
Venter, Smith and Smit are Keo.co.za’s three forwards of the weekend, while Pietersen and Bosman were the pick of the backs. What will please White is that in round six, several of his prominent Boks have started to show form after being too quiet in the early rounds.
PS: Tony Brown was very good against his former Highlanders teammates, but our focus is on South African players.