Bulls still our best bet
27 Mar 2006
The Bulls are South Africa’s only realistic option for a top four placing in the Vodacom Super 14.
And if they get on a roll in the next few weeks it is likely to be a position closer to four than two for the Bulls.
The lack of bonus points could prove crucial as the Bulls have struggled to get the maximum out of winning games. They also dropped two crucial matches in Pretoria, losing to the Brumbies in the last minute and also crashing to the Canes with just two minutes to play.
Still, they remain the most impressive of the South African sides and their squad strength also looks the strongest. They also have a favourable away draw with matches against the Force, Blues, Chiefs and Reds an easier draw when compared to the travels of the Sharks, Cats and Cheetahs.
It is not beyond the Bulls capabilities that they could win all four on the road — a first for any South African side.
The Sharks will rue the missed opportunity in Wellington. They did everything to win the game for an hour, controlled the match and then let it slip with two errors. Every one of Dick Muir’s nightmares was realised in those two moments. Muir had said the Canes had the ability to kill you with just one mistake. His team gifted them two.
The Sharks and Cats completed unprecedented travel in five matches overseas and while they won just won just one match from 10, the performances were a lot better. The Sharks, in particular, have been impressive and could easily have come home with three wins. Ifs and buts, however, get you nothing in this tournament, as Frans Ludeke has discovered. His team were well beaten in the first four matches, but should have left Invercargill with victory against an ordinary and struggling Highlanders team.
It doesn’t help to have all the ball and all the territory, but not the game plan to finish off the opposition.
The Cats have been woeful, although they should scrape a couple of wins at home. We know they traditionally are a home and away team in this competition.
The Cheetahs have already done their inclusion in the competition justice, regardless of how they fare overseas, while the Stormers have the advantage of an easier away draw. They should get at least two wins, despite their pitiful start to the tournament.
The Waratahs, Crusaders and Brumbies have been the three most impressive sides, while the Canes have hung in there every weekend. You sense, though, that they are due a few beatings after cashing in all their tournament lives.
It could be that the Canes v Bulls match in Pretoria turns out to be the decisive one when 13 matches have been played.
The Canes are at home to the Crusaders this weekend and that match is already a sell-out, while three of South Africa’s team are in action on Friday overseas. So there won’t be much productivity in the work place.
The Bones, again had to settle for five correct winning picks from six. It has taken the bones to 71.1 percent for the tournament and that Muppits isn’t too shabby. 70 percent, the goal at the outset, has been broken (at least for now).
The Sharks let the bones down last weekend and the perfect six from six was once again foiled.
Bones success in 2006
Week one: 4/7
Week two: 4/7
Week three: 4/7
Week four: 5/6
Week five: 5/6
Week six: 5/6
Week seven: 5/6
32/45 = 71.1 percent