Stage set for Cape cracker
22 May 2010
Conditions at Newlands couldn’t be better while the swelling local contingent will give the Stormers a massive advantage in tonight’s semi-final.
A fortnight ago, Cape Town was hit by a series of thunderstorms that seemed to signal the beginning of a particularly bitter winter. On the evening of the Super 14 play-offs, however, Mother Nature has shown herself to be a rugby fan, as the scene at Newlands resembles one of late summer rather than early winter.
The temperature is beginning to cool but there is no wind to speak of. It’s not often that you get to say that in Cape Town, so it bears repeating, the wind will have no impact on tonight’s game.
The pubs and bars in the surrounding area have been packed since lunch-time, and throughout the suburb of Newlands there’s a sense of optimism and positivity.
The friendly Stormers supporters with the CY number plates braaing on Groote Schuur fields; the friendly UCT students already filled to the brim with spirits of every kind; and of course, the friendly traffic cops ticketing the unfortunate sods who’ve parked illegally in an attempt to get nearer to the stadium (well maybe the latter is more indifferent than anything else). There’s an air on anticipation, and the Tahs could be in for a hostile reception come the 19:10 kick off.
The Bulls vs Crusaders match is being shown on the stadium’s big screen, and every point scored by the Kiwis is cheered by the those in the standing section. The more cynical might accuse these people of being unpatriotic, but since most are kitted in Stormers clobber, you can’t exactly call them Crusaders fans. Perhaps they are still dreaming of a Super Rugby final in Cape Town, which can only happen if the Saders beat the Bulls and the Stormers down the Tahs.
The teams begin their warm drills, and some fashioniestas (like Ryan Vrede) will be happy to know that the training strip resembles the jersey they donned in the last game against the Hurricanes. A pattern of waratahs line Berrick Barnes’ sleeve, as he practices his kicks at goal. At the opposite end, Joe Pietersen seems to be striking the ball sweetly. Conditions are great for running rugby, but the tactical kicking battle could be crucial to the outcome.
By Jon Cardinelli, at Newlands