Righto, so the one thing I did have correct in my rather inept predictions, was the fact that I thought only one SA side would make the semi-finals. But... I had that side to be the Stormers and not the Sharks, and I also had the Hurricanes to beat the Blues to host the second home semi-final.
Instead, the Crusaders, after another little hiccup in the run in to the final week of the tournament against the Highlanders, will host the Hurricanes at 09:35 in what should be an absolute cracker (especially if the 'Canes v Blues game is anything to go by) and the Waratahs will host the Sharks at 12:00 in what will probably be a battle of defences rather than attack.
Now while the Bok coach had three SA sides to make the semi's, I think a few of us more pragmatic rugby enthusiasts would have taken this at the beginning of the season.
But it could so easily have been the Stormers instead of the 'Canes making that trip to Christchurch! To be honest, if you cannot score a fourth try against the 14th placed side on the log, you probably do not deserve a semi-final spot, but with a few minutes remaining in the game, and the Stormers assured of a win, surely it would have made more sense to SA Rugby (and South African rugby) to let the Stormers score that fourth try rather than see the wooden spoonists get a consolation try!
I know this is controversial, and based on a vote we had on Sport24 last week, it is something 90% of you would disagree with, but I am a believer in local sides throwing games at the business end of a tournament in order to see better placed sides prosper. So I would have wanted the Lions to throw this game and concede four tries in order to guarantee a semi-final for the Stormers!
Yes, as said, I know it is controversial, and probably against all things "sporting", but do me a favour. That word "sporting" can hardly even be used in this professional era in any case. When did you last see a batsmen take a fielders word on a catch he has just taken? Is rotating props using the blood bin ruling "sporting"? Is booing the opposition kicker "sporting"? Is taking a so called injured third prop off the field when you are taking heat in the scrums so you can get uncontested scrums "sporting"?
Nope, in this era where it is not even bonus points that decide salaries and player budgets, but the points difference, one plays to the rules you are given. And we had the most classic and simple opportunity to have a second side playing in a Super 14 semi-final. And the Lions did not even have to throw the game...
Quite obviously, they were on the park to win the match, so all I would have been asking for the game to be played out in 70 minutes rather than 80. And at that time, should the Stormers have been up, they would have been "allowed" to score the necessary tries or points in order to maximise their chances of making the semi-finals.
Instead the Sharks head to the venue of their biggest defeat of the season, and the Stormers head to Somerset West to introduce themselves to the likes of Heini Adams, Isma-eel Dollie, Kabamba Floors, Hilton Lobberts, Gerhard Mostert, and Chiliboy Ralepelle.
And the irony?
Of all the SA sides, it is probably the Bulls I would now like to see representing us in the semi-finals...
Tank is a former WP tighthead prop and now Sport24 editor and the author of the blog, Front Row Grunt.
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