How traumatic is that bloody half-time
interview with the out of breath player who just wants to hit the shed and suck
on his cut up orange? Almost all of them are truly cringe worthy, with the Rob
Kempson chat to Jan Serfontein, seemingly conducted in a Martian language,
Would it not make more sense to have a chat
to the referee and get his sense of the game? It would certainly get me to hold
off on that all important half time trip to the coolerbox... But no doubt the
cotton wool used to protect these men in the middle prevents such a chat.
I digress though... it is semi-final and
promotion-relegation weekend. Who cares about the half-time interview?
Kiwi commentator for Sky, and without doubt
the best exponent of this horrible half-time invention, Scotty Stevenson,
tweeted the following stats: “15/17 SuperRugby titles won by 1st or 2nd best
attack during the regular season. 12/17 by 1st. 1st in 2013 = Chiefs” (@sumostevenson)
Hence the Stormers being able to use
defence to get them to the finals series or close, but not being able to
convert that quarter or semi final to silverware...
And Stevenson is right about the Chiefs.
They lead the tournament in terms of tries scored (50), average points scored
per game (28.6), and clean breaks (148).
However, on 48 tries scored this year and
an average of 28.5 points scored per game, second only to the Chiefs, come the
men in black and red.
With superstars Israel Dagg, Kieran Read
and Dan Carter in the run on XV, and rugby union legend Richie McCaw on the
bench, this probably negates the home ground advantage the Waikato men enjoy,
so it comes down to the two best attacking sides in the tournament going head
I am backing the visitors, but would not
put my kid’s piggy bank on it, let alone the house. And I pity the poor buggers
who have to face either of these two sides in the final.
Speaking of which...
With all the stars seemingly aligned for
the Bulls in that the Cheetahs loss meant avoiding having to host the Crusaders
this weekend, but perhaps likely to have to do exactly that next weekend, but
in a home final, should they get past the Brumbies on Saturday, is it the
Pretoria boys tournament to lose?
Based on the premise that attack wins you
the big games, perhaps a comparison of the Bulls and Brumbies then... the
Brumbies have scored 43 tries (fifth best in comp), scored an average
of 26.2 points per game and conceded 18.1. The Bulls have scored 41 tries (seventh
best in comp), scored an average of 28 points per game and conceded 20.6. Less
tries for the Bulls, but more points... Yes, that Morne Steyn boot does count!
Clean breaks: Bulls - 103, Brumbies – 97
Carries: Bulls - 1 509, Brumbies – 1 831
Defenders beaten: Bulls - 240, Brumbies –
So the visitors might edge the Bulls on so
called attack stats, but neither side are stand out on that front. With Test match
specialist Jake White at the helm for the Brumbies, and BMT champion Steyn at
flyhalf for the Bulls, I see this game bucking the trend and being about
territory, and who keeps the other side from scoring. And for an indicator on
that front, we go back to basics:
Lineout success: Bulls – 89.5% (best in
comp), Brumbies – 87.1% (sixth)
Scrum success: Bulls – 85% (second
worst), Brumbies – 92% (second best)
Tackle success: Bulls – 85.5% (fourth worst), Brumbies – 86% (fifth worst)
And therein lies the rub. The Bulls can’t
scrum! Dean Greyling, much like Coenie Oosthuizen, leaks down the right hand
side of the tighthead, trying to look good personally, but splintering the
scrum, while Werner Kruger is not the block of granite you need at tighthead.
Hence them picking both Frik Kirsten and Morne Mellett on the bench.
They have rules the lineouts though, but
that was with Juandre Kruger at No 5 and Pierre Spies at No 8. Spies might have some
issues in the hustle and bustle of the main game, but the man can win lineout
ball. He is now in injured while Kruger is in France comparing notes with Bryan
Habana. I like the look of Grant Hattingh, but he is still pretty green.
The Bulls’ tournament to lose? Perhaps, but
it will not be pretty this weekend, and they will need to buck the trend next
week. Both Fortress Loftus and Mighty Morne will need to come out and play!
Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop who now heads up Tankman Media, and sprouts forth on all things rugby on the Front Row Grunt …
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