Gary Boshoff

Loftus final on the cards

2009-10-12 09:24
Gary Boshoff
Gary Boshoff

In a day of high drama in Kimberley, the Sharks secured their top spot on the Currie Cup log, but at the same time set up a semi-final clash against their bogey side, the Cheetahs. The Cheetahs are hitting top form at the time of the competition when it matters most and will come to Durban with nothing to lose – half way through the competition, no-one, not even their most ardent supporters could imagine Naka Drotzke’s men making it to the play-offs. So hold your breath South African rugby fans, there are still a few surprises to come before we head towards the final at month end.

Griquas, the revelation of the 2009 competition, missed out on a semi-final spot, but only just. There was a brief period on Saturday (just after the Sharks lost both Bismarck Du Plessis and the Beast to injury) when it looked as if the Griquas were gaining the ascendency. And how about this guy Sarel Pretorius? He is like a hyperactive tweener and like he has been doing throughout the season, he had the Sharks’ defence in all sorts of trouble. He simply does not give up!! Apart from this never-say-die attitude he displayed deft skills and option-taking which would certainly have had the national coach and some of the Super 14 coaches ticking his name for future reference. 

Another player whose share value grew immensely is that of Devon Raubenheimer – he came to Griquas as a relatively unknown eighth man who had excelled for SWD in the First Division in the previous two seasons. This year he grew in stature and has certainly laid a claim for greater recognition in future, perhaps in the Super 14 and who knows, if he is managed well and gets enough game time, he could become a serious candidate for Springbok selection in two to three years time.

The Sharks on the other hand will have to make some serious selection choices for the Cheetahs clash, ironically because of the riches of talent at their disposal. But it is exactly because of this vast array of talent at their disposal that the selection of the right combinations can become problematic. Kockott or Pienaar? Or do they move Hernandez to centre and play Pienaar at fly-half? And what if the Beast and Bismarck Du Plessis don’t recover in time? There are definitely a few agonising days ahead for the Sharks management, John Plumtree in particular. 

The Cheetahs have no serious injuries going into the play-offs and will in all likely-hood field their first choice match 22. In short, the Sharks are in for one helluva contest and will have to be at the top of their game to beat this determined Cheetah side.

In the other semi-final, a classic North-South derby, the odds are now heavily stacked in favour of the Blue Bulls. Talk in Bloemfontein and Pretoria is about a Blue Bulls vs Cheetahs final at Loftus Versveld! 

Now this does not seem so farfetched at all since the Blue Bulls will also be at full strength, with most of their players having experienced play-offs spanning over close to a decade – a massive advantage over the majority of the present WP players who have been starved of play-offs in recent years. The Springbok half-back pairing of Fourie Du Preez and Morne Steyn and the world’s best lock pairing, Matfield and Botha, stand like mountains between WP and a spot in the final.

As unlikely as it sounds, the Blue Bulls travel to Newlands as underdogs and this is perhaps the tag that will be to their advantage when they take on their traditional rivals on Saturday.

I don’t know about you but the more I think about it the more I like the idea of a Loftus Versveld final come 31 October 2009.

Gary Boshoff is a former Saru player and well-known rugby administrator.

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