LIVE

    Sharks, Bulls seek SA favours

    2014-05-14 23:06
    Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

    Cape Town – The Sharks and Bulls may be the only remaining South African contenders for the Super Rugby playoffs, but this weekend is also the last major opportunity on home soil for certain compatriots to meaningfully aid their push.

    All five New Zealand conference sides, remarkably, are still very much in the hunt, whilst in Australia the tally is a healthy enough three – just the Rebels and hugely under-performing Reds are also-rans at this point.

    One of the reasons the South African challenge is the leanest of the SANZAR trio this year is that our teams have fared so abjectly overseas, the Sharks’ triumph over the Rebels in Melbourne two rounds ago being the miserly lone success thus far.

    But aggravating the situation has been the fact that in recent weeks the Australasian teams have come increasingly into their own for success on our turf after a shaky start.

    Early in the campaign, remember, all of the Hurricanes, Blues and Reds returned from South Africa empty-handed.

    But then the tide began to turn, and it started with defending champions the Chiefs earning freak, very high-scoring successive draws with the Bulls and Cheetahs – six points from a possible 10 was a satisfying booty for them as they headed back across the Indian Ocean.

    It seemed to act as a catalyst for others to raid the country productively: the Crusaders beat both the Lions and Cheetahs, the Waratahs were thumped by the Sharks but bounced back to down the Stormers, the Highlanders humbled the Sharks and then were edged out by a mere point at Newlands, and the Force have begun their two-game visit on a high by beating the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

    All of this has not been the best development for the log-leading Sharks, who have a host of challengers breathing uncomfortably down their necks now, or the Bulls, who are much further adrift in ninth but still kicking – and their outside chance of squeezing into the finals series could well depend on the outcomes of games at Newlands and Free State Stadium on Saturday.

    The Loftus outfit have a bye, and their long-shot cause would be strongly helped if the Stormers, with only pride on the line for them, eclipse the Force and the Cheetahs, in a similar “dead” position playoffs-wise, somehow muster the mojo to see off the Brumbies – everybody knows they can on a good day.

    If those results are achieved, the Sharks will also be hugely appreciative, regardless of whether or not they have achieved Mission Impossible of beating the in-form Crusaders in bogey city Christchurch earlier the same day.

    It would have meant that at least a couple of the barking wolves had been beaten back from their door for another week.

    After the latest round, the Brumbies will have just one more obligation in South Africa – a critical meeting with the Bulls in Pretoria – and that would complete the SA safari agendas of all NZ or Aussie teams still in contention for the playoffs, with just the out-of-the-picture Rebels yet to pack their bags for these climes.

    South African sides have experienced immense amounts of pain abroad in 2014; two little bouts of “payback” in Cape Town and Bloemfontein this weekend would be a timely tonic.

    Yes, Jake White and Frans Ludeke might even be inspired to raise a glass ...

     *Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

    Read News24’s Comments Policy

    24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

    Comment on this story
    57 comments
    Add your comment
    Comment 0 characters remaining
    Live Video Streaming
    Video Highlights
    Sport Talk
    Most Read
    Commented
    /Sport

    Fixtures

    13 February 2015
    • Crusaders v Melbourne Rebels, Christchurch 08:35
    • Brumbies v Reds, Canberra 10:40
    • Lions v Hurricanes, Johannesburg 19:10
    14 February 2015
    • Blues v Chiefs, Albany 08:35
    • Sharks v Cheetahs, Durban 17:05
    • Bulls v Stormers, Pretoria 19:10
    15 February 2015
    • Waratahs v Western Force, Sydney 07:05

    Results

    02 August 2014
    26 July 2014
    19 July 2014
    12 July 2014
    11 July 2014
    06 July 2014
    05 July 2014
    04 July 2014
    28 June 2014
    27 June 2014
    31 May 2014
    30 May 2014
    24 May 2014
    23 May 2014
    18 May 2014
    17 May 2014
    16 May 2014
    11 May 2014
    10 May 2014
    09 May 2014
    03 May 2014
    02 May 2014
    26 April 2014
    25 April 2014
    19 April 2014
    18 April 2014
    12 April 2014
    11 April 2014
    05 April 2014
    04 April 2014
    29 March 2014
    28 March 2014
    22 March 2014
    21 March 2014
    15 March 2014
    14 March 2014
    08 March 2014
    07 March 2014
    01 March 2014
    28 February 2014
    23 February 2014
    22 February 2014
    21 February 2014
    15 February 2014

    Logs

    Rank Team P W Pts

    Opinion Poll

    Does the Waratahs' Super Rugby victory give the Wallabies an edge heading into the Rugby Championship?

    Monday Quiz Madness!

    TAKE THE QUIZ
    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.