Gary Boshoff

Crunch time for the Boks

2011-09-28 08:46
Sport24 columnist Gary Boshoff (File)
Gary Boshoff

The Blue Bulls proved many South African rugby fans - and me - wrong again on Saturday! 

There’s just no stopping the resilience of the Blue juggernaut! It just shows you how much “needing to win” and “wanting to win” (desperation) can actually get you to win.

In my view and considered analysis of the Blue Bulls and Golden Lions' seasons thus far, I could find nothing that pointed to a possible Blue Bulls win on Saturday – and yet they did! They're still alive in the Currie Cup and are still on course to miraculously qualify for the playoffs. And this after I saw visions of the Bulls having to play promotion-relegation to stay in the Currie Cup next season!

They need at least 10 points from their three remaining fixtures and hope that WP (they still have two tough encounters against the Sharks and Lions away) lose two of theirs without gaining a bonus point. This will put the Blue Bulls firmly in fourth place on the log and qualification for the playoffs.

In the Currie Cup First Division, the Boland Cavaliers further complicated the EP Kings' season by thrashing them in Wellington. The First Division log shows that it is really only a two-horse race at this stage with the rest of the teams lagging way behind. This is a reflection of the professional infrastructure in place at both these unions. 

Boland are clearly making a bid for the top flight and are sure to be in the mix when the promotion-relegation formula is finalised to determine the top six teams for the 2012 Absa Currie Cup.

They made an emphatic statement on Saturday when they thumped the EP Kings by 30 points - the team guaranteed a Super Rugby spot in 2013 by SARU. I must say, this thrashing casts much doubt over the EP Kings' level of readiness for top flight Super Rugby in two seasons' time.

Meanwhile, the significance of the SA v Samoa Rugby World Cup clash on Friday has become more evident, especially after Wales' demolition job of Namibia. So while we all wanted to believe that it was the brilliance of the Springboks that resulted in the huge score against Namibia - which to a certain extend it was - we have to concede that it was more because of the shortcomings of our neighbours. 

The Welsh overcame a focused and determined Samoan side last week - the Springboks will have to overcome a “desperate” Samoan side this week - a side that will be playing for survival, pride and a place in the playoffs. The match was sold out long before the start of the World Cup and the Springboks can expect a hostile local crowd feverishly supporting the Samoans.
This will be the acid test for the Springboks' resolve to win the World Cup. We need to win this one and win it well!

Finally, the Springboks' success will depend on their ability to psychologically stay in the “present zone” and not get into the “playoff zone” just yet. They have to take the Samoans on at their strong points: front up at the hits and collisions and smash them. Things can drastically change in one match - to prevent disaster the Springboks must seize control early and keep it throughout - they must build on the intensity and focus generated during the Fijian and Namibian matches.
I’m so glad Bismarck is back!

My big worry remains injuries and keeping the momentum for the playoffs. It is indeed crunch time for the Springboks.

Gary Boshoff is a former SARU player and current Afrikaans rugby commentator on SuperSport.

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