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Sharks to paint the town red!

2012-03-16 08:03

Cape Town - Rob Houwing, in his SA Super Rugby Week 4 preview, says the Sharks can issue a powerful message by seeing off the Reds.

SPORT24 PICK OF THE CROP

SHARKS v REDS, Durban

When: Saturday, 17:05

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (SA)

TV: M-Net, SS1, SHD

Long-range weather forecast: Warm, moderate breeze, chance of rain.

Background: This seems as good a time as any for the Sharks – even despite their own under-strength staffing at present – to lower the colours of the Quade Cooper-less defending champions. The Reds have come off not only the gruelling trek from Brisbane, but also unexpected resistance from the Melbourne Rebels in their last outing before they prevailed 11-6. John Plumtree’s charges will be feeling contrastingly more vibrant, having got their own first win under the belt against the Lions ... and may well only up their performance curve on Saturday. I am not suggesting this will be a walk in the park for the Sharks, mind you: last season the Reds toured South Africa superbly, earning a rare 100% win record as they saw off both the Lions and Stormers. 

Key head-to-head: There will be an interesting clash of styles and physiques (and then some) when Sharks skipper KEEGAN DANIEL comes face to face – or looks straight into his rival’s chest, maybe? – with the Reds’ No 8 hulk and wearer of a particularly famous “afro” RADIKE SAMO. The latter’s 60-metre rampage for a try in the Tri-Nations decider against the All Blacks last season will not be forgotten for quite some time, and he will hope for a similar breakout somewhere along the line against the Sharks, no doubt! Daniel is an entirely different kettle of fish: nuggety, ultra-industrious and the kind of No 8 who doubles very effectively as a fetcher when necessary. Mind you, he’s also not averse to throwing the odd wicked dummy and then racing out of the blocks ...

Recent history: These teams avoided each other in the first season of the conference system last year. But in 2010 they also met in Durban, and the Sharks stole a thriller 30-28, after trailing 21-9 early in the second half. Generally, their visits to KZN have not produced good returns for the Queenslanders, their last victory being 6-5 in that 2004 game legendary for its ... well, abject calibre of play over 80 masochistic minutes for fans!   

Rob Houwing’s prediction: I have a surprisingly strong feeling that the scene is set for another Sharks win, which will stabilise them in a big way ... leaving the Reds to contemplate getting it right on tour against a well-rested Bulls outfit at Loftus. Sharks by seven points.

SA GAME 2

STORMERS v BLUES, Cape Town

When: Friday, 19:10

Referee: Glen Jackson (NZ)

TV: M-Net, SS1, SHD

Long-range weather forecast: Mild, moderate breeze.

Background: Most wily Super Rugby monitors felt in pre-season that the Blues would at least be “thereabouts” this season, so it was a surprise when they quickly slipped to nought from two. But was that fine triumph at Loftus a return to more normal service? It seems like it, so the Stormers would be daft not to be strongly on their guard in this floodlit affair. Nevertheless, the Bulls were often their own worst enemies in last week’s minor upset, so Jean de Villiers and company may know deep down that if they stick to their script, one normally marked by admirable discipline, they should yet have the beating of these foes and retain their unbeaten record.

Key head-to-head: The Blues are going to miss injured Anthony Boric in the lineout duels, but still have the seasoned, stormy-petrel All Black ALI WILLIAMS in their second row and skipper Keven Mealamu reckons the big fellow is looking forward to the challenge of even lankier ANDRIES BEKKER in the battle of the No 5s at Newlands. The Blues do acknowledge that “you don’t get anyone taller or more athletic” than the Stormers beanpole in the competition, and you can bet they’ll have some sort of plan to try to stifle his command of the home team’s revered rolling mauls, too ...

Recent history: Last season’s Auckland thriller was one of the most dramatic matches of the entire campaign, with the touring Stormers – under pressure after successive overseas reverses – overturning an ominous 19-3 deficit to snatch it 28-26 courtesy of Schalk Burger’s try in the 79th minute and emergency flyhalf Dewaldt Duvenage’s just-as-important conversion. They also beat the Blues away the previous season, although the New Zealanders do boast victory in the last Newlands meeting – 14-8 in 2009.

Rob Houwing’s prediction: Stormers by four points, with the Newlands faithful witnessing a few tries after that grinding, all-kicks triumph over the Sharks a fortnight back (though perhaps not enough touchdowns for either side to earn a bonus point in that way). It’s been a short turnaround for the Blues from Loftus, considering this is a Friday clash, while the Stormers may be freshened by their bye.

SA GAME 3

REBELS v CHEETAHS, Melbourne

When: Sunday, 07:10 SA time

Referee: Garratt Williamson (NZ)

TV: M-Net, SS1, SHD

Long-range weather forecast: Partly cloudy, mild, windless.

Background: I fancy that the Cheetahs’ prospects of winning this one (Sunday morning our time, note) may hinge very much on their mindset after the gut-wrenching, controversial last-gasp loss to the Brumbies. Will they go into their follow-up tour match demoralised about staying winless? Or will the perceived injustice of the Canberra occasion fire them up to rare levels of intensity? This is probably the “easiest” of their Antipodean fixtures; it only gets tougher as they cross the ditch. As for the oft-ridiculed Rebels, they may only have taken heart from the commendable account they gave of themselves against the Reds last weekend ...

Key head-to-head: Somebody has got to try to closely police that slippery, versatile customer JAMES O’CONNOR in the Rebels’ midfield, and the task – fairly handily – falls upon eligible-again ANDRIES STRAUSS, one of those rugged, no-nonsense sort of No 12s who thrives on a defensive role and the chance to rattle some opposition bones. He is back after serving a two-week suspension for a tip tackle and the Cheetahs will hope he isn’t rusty as they attempt to keep the baby-faced Wallaby (likely to be his opposite number; the Rebels were slow in naming their team this week) from wreaking attacking havoc.

Recent history: These sides’ only previous meeting, in the Rebels’ maiden season last year, saw the Cheetahs land a forceful enough punch in prevailing 41-21 in Bloemfontein, stretching a latish-season hot streak by them to four wins on the trot. They ran in five tries, including two each for Adriaan Strauss and Corne Uys – don’t expect a similar romp in Melbourne!

Rob Houwing’s prediction: Sorry Cheetahs, but as much as I’d love to see them get out of the blocks at last in 2012, they always find touring tough and I’m tipping the limited Rebels purely on the basis of home advantage. Ouch, Rebels by eight?

Sport24

Comments
  • Bulldozer - 2012-03-16 08:16

    Go Reds!!! Go Blues!!! (For the sake of the Bulls' conference aspirations.) Yeah right.

      Kevin - 2012-03-16 10:17

      Bulls or Lions for relegation to Vodacom Cup

      Bulldozer - 2012-03-16 10:22

      Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Kevin, you kill me.

  • Bootman - 2012-03-16 08:16

    Did anyone see John Robbie have a go at the Bulls supporters on Bootsnall last night? Classic!!! This guy is my hero. Owen Nkumane and Mathew Pierce didnt know where to hide their faces. I also particlarly enjoyed his dig at the Bryce Lawrence haters. The words he used were "thuggery, drunkeness and racism" My favourite was "If you cant hold your liquor, dont drink" hahahahahahahaha.

      Bulldozer - 2012-03-16 08:18

      Who's John Robbie and what's 'Boots & All'?

      Heiku - 2012-03-16 09:24

      He has been living here for centuries and he still has that pommie accent. What a douche

      Kevin - 2012-03-16 10:21

      Bryce Lawrence is the esteemed holder of the Bryce Ellis Trophy and is hated by millions for ruining a World Cup. john robbie only feels powerful when he is berating someone. He is the holder of nothing.

      hvanderlinde - 2012-03-16 10:40

      Got to love the guy, he's always straight about things. No Sugar coating.

      Saffies - 2012-03-17 01:32

      Heiku - Actually he is Irish - who's the douche now?

  • Blou-Daan - 2012-03-16 08:20

    As a Bulls supporter I wish the Sharks all of the best. Trash them Sharks…..!!!!!

      Martin - 2012-03-16 11:32

      Respect ou perd! - Good luck to all SA teams, Sharks by 1, Stormers by 8, Cheetahs by 5. Being a Sharks supporter I think it will be a penalty that decides the outcome of this match - hopefuly our way of course!

  • John - 2012-03-16 09:08

    The big problem in the Super tournaments over the years is our sides gifting the Australasians points in our own backyard. The Blues lost 2 at home and come here and already they have 4 points. It is critical that the Sharks & the Stormers win, not only for their own good, but for the whole SA conference. These teams must come here and go back home with slim pickings.

  • Kevin - 2012-03-16 10:18

    Go Sharks you good things . Hot them hard . Hope Mark Lawrence isnt reffing as he always blows the sharks badly.

  • tuckytatham - 2012-03-16 10:43

    Rob is not averse to picking the opposition against the Sharks, so it must have been one helluva turn around from the the boys in black and white last weekend for him to pick the Sharks by 7. In his defense he hasn't been wrong so lets hope that he's spot on this weekend too! Sharks Forever! Would love to see a Cheetahs win but its not likely, unfortunately.

  • coolshoesouthafrica - 2012-03-16 13:31

    GO SHARKS!!!!!

  • coolshoesouthafrica - 2012-03-16 13:32

    wonder if Bulldozer has ever left Pretoria??

      malcolm.molver - 2012-03-16 14:14

      I don't think he's ever left his mother's house!

  • Marvin - 2012-03-17 15:12

    I think Rob is smoking his socks mate, Sharks vs Reds going to massive. The Defending Champs will have the minerals ove rthe Sharks. The Reds playing much better as a unit & i have a feeling the backline is going to be be explosive. Reds by 11

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