S15 final: Beast v Sona

2012-08-02 11:21

Cape Town – They are as close as it gets to cult figures of the front row ... and now the Chiefs’ shiny-domed loosehead prop Sona Taumalolo comes up against another global favourite in a No 1 jersey, Tendai Mtawarira of the Sharks, in Saturday’s Super Rugby final (09:35 SA time) in Hamilton.

Of course they will not actually go head to head at scrum-time -- unless through makeshift necessity during the contest -- but it is in close-quarters mauling and driving play that this pair may well be most closely monitored for bragging rights at Waikato Stadium.

Taumalolo and Mtawarira certainly qualify as two of the most recognisable and crowd-pleasing looseheads, just about anywhere on the rugby-playing planet.

The former (also known as “Arizona”, which somehow adds to his broad appeal geographically) is a charismatic Tongan international, shortly bidding farewell to the Chiefs and heading to France on a three-year deal with Perpignan, so he will naturally be eyeing an appropriate send-off on Saturday.

Taumalolo’s leg drive near the opposition try-line has become the stuff of legend this season, as he has registered nine tries in Super Rugby – including one in the minor upset semi-final victory over the Crusaders last week, even if outspoken former All Black prop Richard Loe later described it as “looking a bit fishy” after repeated replays and approval by TMO verdict.

Whatever the legitimacy of his own five-point contribution to the 20-17 score-line, Taumalolo was particularly fired-up generally in the semi, where he was a key element in the Chiefs’ pretty obvious plan to get in the ‘Saders faces and rattle them by fair means or occasionally borderline foul.

There was little wrong with the 113kg, 1.85m front-ranker’s scrummaging, either, as Richie McCaw’s side were unable to gain quite the sort of foothold in the set-piece they doubtless anticipated.

His No 1 counterpart on Saturday, meanwhile, the ever-popular “Beast”, stamped his own mark on the other semi-final at Newlands.

Home team the Stormers were first to make a big early statement in the bruising all-South African affair when a marauding Eben Etzebeth sent Bismarck du Plessis, not one normally seen in this pose, sprawling groggily to the turf.

The Sharks needed a response and it came with comforting rapidity for them ... Springbok Mtawarira produced one of his revered, destructive heaves on Stormers tighthead Brok Harris, bending him backwards at a scrum amidst much whooping from the Sharks eight and an unusually animated display of growling satisfaction from the loosehead himself.

Mtawarira is a senior, “go to” man, that’s for sure, when Keegan Daniel’s team are looking for a moment or two of inspiration, and apart from his exceptional prowess in the scrums when the mood grabs him, he is just like Taumalolo in relishing every chance to place the ball under an arm and bulldoze his way ahead, amidst inevitable chants of “Beeeeast” from the stands.

Of course Mtawarira (a tad bulkier than Taumalolo at 116kg but a slightly shorter 1.82m) is as likely as any Sharks colleague in the pack, in particular, to be vulnerable to fatigue as the final runs its course, given the extraordinary travel burden on the Sharks preceding this showpiece.

But one thing in his favour is that for game-time this year he remains lighter than most team-mates, given that he broke a bone in an ankle in pre-season and missed many early weeks of the Super Rugby ordinary season.

Included in that layoff was the April meeting between these very sides at Mr Price Kings Park, where Ryan Kankowski – more recently a revelation – was another absentee and the Sharks were beaten 18-12.

The workmanlike young Dale Chadwick deputised at No 1 that day, when Taumalolo was at his equivalent post for the Chiefs.

But now, in the fitting environment of the 2012 final, we belatedly get to see Beast v Sona in a veritable battle of ball-carrying bison ...

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


  • harold.lloyd.520 - 2012-08-02 11:25

    I would just like to thank the Sharks again for ending the Stormers supporters' misery.

      deon.fouche.3 - 2012-08-02 11:31

      Also a BIG thank you to the team that I support for the 32-10 win when they played the bulletjies

      chester.tobias.3 - 2012-08-02 11:45

      @Isak, Good one !

      mardeo.bezuidenhout - 2012-08-02 13:10

      @blue raven. Not a bulls fan myself. but u make a very valid point there.

      deon.fouche.3 - 2012-08-02 13:15

      @BlueRaven..Just keep in mind that in the starting 15, there where many Springboks

      deon.fouche.3 - 2012-08-02 14:18

      Agree.. But still the Bulls won the opening game, with the same team, but I more or less get your point Blue :)

      skinfaxi.mordor - 2012-08-02 14:24

      I don’t like the Bulls but have to concede that considering that they lost the core of their skills in one fell swoop they did exceptionally well in this year’s competition. If Morne had played the kind of rugby that we know he’s capable of (that is the way he played against the British & Irish Lions) then they might have gone further in the competition. I don’t what happened against the Crusaders. They just didn’t show up. My concern is that Ludeke didn’t really coach (from scratch) the team that has been so successful over the last few years. They cut their teeth under HM and JW (as Springboks). The only team that FL has built from scratch was the Lions…… Let’s not forget that not so long ago Bulls supporters had a petition out to ditch the guy.

      lindy.leroux - 2012-08-02 14:35

      14 Springboks in the Starting 15, no matter when they played for the boks!!! rebuilding my ass!! " J "

      dave.short.102 - 2012-08-02 18:35

      @ISAK and for manhandeling the Stormpies!!!!!!!!!

      cap.mor.5 - 2012-08-03 09:20

      Visser, Please Go Away. Listen carefully, your dog is calling you for a bit of man-handling.

  • wesley.j.lane - 2012-08-02 11:27

    Go Sharks!

  • skinfaxi.mordor - 2012-08-02 11:52

    Sona Taumalolo might be big but that’s more or less where it ends. Last week the Crusaders pushed the Chiefs scrum around like it was a supermarket trolley. Last week the Stormers scrum was 30 kg heavier than that of the Sharks and had five different variations of going backwards. Sona Taumalolo also lacks fitness. I’ll be surprised if he goes 50.

      cape.maori - 2012-08-02 12:39

      What did you watch? The Chiefs scrum was not bad in comparison to previous years! It's about technique, not weight! How do you know Sona lacks fitness? Are you the conditioning coach? As jy wil k.k. praat, doen dit op 'n ander plek!

      skinfaxi.mordor - 2012-08-02 17:44

      Ok how many times did Sona Taumalolo go the full 80 this season? He's usually the first player to get subbed. So why take such a good player off the field if he has so much more in the tank?

  • skinfaxi.mordor - 2012-08-02 12:04

    Crunch match of the weekend.... Beast vs Chongololo..... just like last weekend when Whitehead felt the squeeze.

  • skinfaxi.mordor - 2012-08-02 14:56

    April 2008 Bulls had won only 2 of 9 games and were 13th on the Super 14 log. Bulls supporters unhappy with the newly appointed Frans Ludeke launched an internet petition demanding that he be removed as coach. If I remember ZK was suspended for a tip tackle and the Bulls didn’t really have anyone to replace him. Those were dark times for the Bulls.

      mike.barmby - 2012-08-02 15:17

      What is a CC? and S14? I am new to this

      skinfaxi.mordor - 2012-08-02 15:30

      These are motoring terms Mike. CC is used to determine how close you are to being an Alpha male. If you drive a 4000 CC bakkie then you are a REAL man. The S14 is the engine which was used in BMW E30 M3.

      skinfaxi.mordor - 2012-08-02 15:52

      In fact back in the day when the Lions had enough players to make up a full team and when their coaches didn’t watch the game from the gallows there was the Super 10 which the Lions won.

      mike.barmby - 2012-08-02 16:21

      Is it true the Sharks have never won it but count the 2007 final as a win? I do find that quite sad. You know what Naas Botha says, look at the other hand. I think I might change the team I support to the Bulls because they are quite obviously the far superior team in the country. Go Bulls!

      skinfaxi.mordor - 2012-08-02 16:49

      Yes this is true Mike. The Bulls beat the Sharks in extra time. Don’t ask the Bulls supporters what happened because all these “die hard” supporters were streaming out of the stadium at the time. Steve Walsh Jr. had to miss a forward pass and a clear knock on so that the game could carry on long enough for the Bulls to win. This is why some Sharks supporters count it as a win. This Sharks supporter says that if Steyn has slotted an easy penalty or kicked the ball out when he cleared the Sharks line then the Sharks would have won and therefore did not derserve to win and well done to the Bulls. Be careful. Supporting a team that you have no claim to makes your front teeth fall out.

      skinfaxi.mordor - 2012-08-02 17:56

      Oops did I hit a nerve there? If the cap fits wear it. Wanna stand on top of the mountain and beat your chest, people are gonna take pot shots at you and when it happens don't cry because you asked for it. If you can't take the heat.......

      cap.mor.5 - 2012-08-03 09:27

      Visser, See what I mean about your comments relating to rugby discussions. Now Please, Go Away.

  • skinfaxi.mordor - 2012-08-02 17:52

    While we are on rugby terminology a toe to toe slugging match is what the author of this article calls rattling "them by fair means or occasionally borderline foul". When it happens in the battle of Boet Erasmus the 3 players get a 30 day suspension. When it happens in NZ it's a scrum.

      andy.smyth.589 - 2012-08-03 09:59

      Here's a reality check, throughout the history of Bok v All Black scrums we've dominated 78%.....problem with saffas is they think you're better that what you actually are, basically you're a bunch of whinging fat useless poofs

      skinfaxi.mordor - 2012-08-03 12:42

      I don’t know how you can attach a statistical figure to the dominance of scrums since it’s all subjective. What can be measured is the number of NZ referees selected for the Rugby Championship which is an indication of the honesty and competency of New Zealand referees. Go figure. If I think whinging fat useless poofs an image of Sean Fitzpatrick comes to mind crying to the ref “he bit my ear!”. Your lot can’t stop whinging about one forward pass that happened five years ago but have swept more than 20 poor decisions from a NZ ref under the carpet so you can claim legitimacy to your rigged world cup. Do yourself a favour sit yourself down, watch the baby bokke vs the baby blacks at Newlands and learn the definition of a hiding. Then get used to it because that is the future of bok rugby. We will dominate for the next 5 years. HM’s biggest problem at the moment is which highly talented world class players he has to leave out of the squad.

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