It’s Bizzie v Strauss in derby

2012-05-18 08:22

Cape Town - Rob Houwing, in his South African Super Rugby Week 13 preview, tips the Sharks to conquer ‘Bloem’ ... perhaps even comfortably.

GALLERY: Key match-ups in the Cheetahs v Sharks clash


CHEETAHS v SHARKS, Bloemfontein

When: Saturday, 17:05
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (SA)
TV: M-Net, SS1, SHD

Long-range weather forecast:
Clear, cool, light breeze.

This match takes place at a time when the Sharks seem (er, famous last words?) to be finally getting onto some sort of roll. Thrashing the Force by a strong margin must have done much to restore self-belief, however limited the Western Australians may be, and I just feel that the Sharks are ripe to extend their head of steam in the Free State - admittedly not always their happiest hunting ground. The Cheetahs cannot be taken lightly at home, of course, but are largely also-rans and have been suffering at flyhalf through Johan Goosen’s injury and Sias Ebersohn then getting the yips. The big key for them could be whether they recapture the running zest demonstrated at times a little earlier in the campaign ... 

Key head-to-head:
There can be little doubt which match-up stands out mostly dazzlingly: the expected, titanic duel at hooker between Cheetahs captain ADRIAAN STRAUSS and Sharks and Springbok rival BISMARCK DU PLESSIS – their first encounter of the season and a timely one in terms of ticking Bok boxes. There is talk that Heyneke Meyer has been impressed both by Strauss’s performance level and leadership of late, whilst ever-combative Du Plessis, still probably the favourite to wear No 2 against England, has a chance to confirm his right to the berth in the fading slipstream of John Smit ... especially if he can manufacture in this derby some of his unique, wrestle-it-from-enemy-arms turnovers. The front rows, broadly, ought to offer an intriguing tussle here. 

Recent history:
The Sharks have come a cropper three times to the Cheetahs since the Free Staters became a solo entity from the former Cats in 2006, with four wins to their own credit. So it shows a pattern of extreme competitiveness between the two. However, the men from Durban did win both conference matches last season – 24-9 on the competition’s opening weekend at home and then a considerably tighter 23-18 in the return meeting in Highveld conditions.

Rob Houwing’s prediction:
Sharks to retain momentum by muscling their way to a win by around nine points.



When: Saturday, 07:30 SA time
Referee: Ian Smith (Aus)
TV: M-Net, SS1, SHD

Long-range weather forecast:
Clear, chilly, light breeze.

The Bulls admirably continue to defy the doubters, who felt their regroup initiative in 2012 would mean not seeing them up among the front-runners. Instead they ride top of the standings ... and at the halfway point of their four-match overseas leg sport a two-from-two record. They will know as they crossed the Tasman to New Zealand that the going now gets much tougher, including this one in oft-frigid Dunedin against a Highlanders team under pressure to get back to winning ways after slipping to mid-table courtesy of last week’s home loss to the Hurricanes and another before that in Durban. If I am not massively confident about the Bulls’ chances of winning, it is probably only because some imperfections were evident in both Aussie wins, over the Rebels and Waratahs ... but I’ve no doubt 100-capper and points machine Morne Steyn has some contrary plans. 

Key head-to-head:
Although the Highlanders team had not yet been named at the time of writing, versatile BEN SMITH seemed likely to continue at fullback, where he has shone routinely this season in an all-round capacity. But I am also liking the 2012 lustre of the Bulls’ ZANE KIRCHNER, who sometimes looked stale and predictable last season but has produced bursts of magical hand and foot skills in the latest campaign – part of the reason, probably, why his team is having no problem scoring tries (3.6 per game).

Recent history:
These opponents have tended to trouble the Bulls more than most NZ sides, and last year they snapped a lengthy winning streak at home by the Loftus-based side by even raiding that venue for a praiseworthy, upset 35-28 result in their favour. Adam Thomson crossed the whitewash as early as the sixth minute to rock the Bulls, and they never really got their lustre back after that.

Rob Houwing’s prediction:
For no other reason, really, than the more decent NZ teams being notoriously hard to beat at home, I tip the Highlanders to snatch it by six points ... enough for a losing “BP” by the tourists.



When: Saturday, 19:10
Referee: Craig Joubert (SA)
TV: M-Net, SS1, SHD

Long-range weather forecast:
Cool, light breeze, chance of showers.

The Stormers keep winning, which is obviously a fine habit in itself and they are not shy to remind us of that, but this game comes with them under some pressure to prove they can regularly threaten  the enemy try-line rather than just defend their own so staunchly. Unfortunately the elements (rain is a likelihood) plus the dewy night-time kickoff do suggest that a four-try bonus point either way is unlikely. So maybe just “keep winning doggedly” will be the big Stormers rallying cry once more. In fairness, that would be a satisfying outcome against a ‘Tahs team facing a now-or-never scenario in the playoffs hunt and still featuring some dangerous individuals. Allister Coetzee has rightly pointed to their set-piece competence, which is useful if it’s a grim Cape evening, isn’t it?

Key head-to-head:
Is it just me, or is scrumhalf DEWALDT DUVENAGE overdue for showing a bit of unpredictability or “expression”, if you like, at scrumhalf for the Stormers? After all, the man in his berth is inevitably going to come under the microscope to some extent if the attackers outside him aren’t scoring many tries. The Waratahs have shuffled their No 9 cards again - Sarel Pretorius is back on the bench with nuggety BRENDAN McKIBBIN preferred. He is probably viewed as the right horse for a possibly heavy course.  

Recent history:
Last season, these teams avoided each other but, if it’s a fillip for the Stormers as they contemplate this task, they saw off the Waratahs consummately in two Newlands meetings in 2010: 27-5 in round-robin play and then 25-6 in a semi-final. But I also clearly remember a filthy, rain-lashed night in 2008 at the venue, where the teams fought out a tense 13-13 draw. Is a repeat in store?

Rob Houwing’s prediction:
It will be a surprise if this game is postcard-pretty, and I reckon the Stormers will grind out a “basic” victory again, by some five points.


REDS v LIONS, Brisbane

When: Saturday, 11:40 SA time
Referee: Keith Brown (NZ)
TV: M-Net, SS1, SHD

Long-range weather forecast:
Clear, mild, light breeze.

As relegation talk swirls with increasing lustre, the Lions find themselves haplessly stranded alone at the bottom -- after being thumped even by the previously woeful Blues last weekend! Part of me wants to believe they will suddenly discover some “gees” and earn a sensational tour win or two, a la last year, but it doesn’t seem in the pipeline, does it? On top of that, they encounter here a dangerously rallying Reds side, just sensing the possibility of defending their title and chuffed by beating the Chiefs last weekend with some daylight to spare. Perhaps the best favour the Lions can do for various teams around the Reds on the log is try to somehow deprive them of a five-point haul?

Key head-to-head:
With team incentives not exactly springing to mind in any great number for the Lions, at least their baby-faced flyhalf ELTON JANTJIES has the chance to oppose one of the very best in the rival channel again ... a certain QUADE COOPER. The latter finally returns to the mix after several months of injury-enforced inactivity and the diminutive South African will have an edge in match-sharpness. We know Cooper can get rattled going backwards; c’mon Lions pack!

Recent history:
Last year these foes met in Johannesburg, with the Reds edging the game 30-25, the Queenslanders putting it all together after a poor start. It was more emphatic a year earlier - 41-26 also at Ellis Park. At least in the last Brisbane fixture, the Lions can claim victory (31-20 in 2009, when Henno Mentz recorded a hat-trick of tries).

Rob Houwing’s prediction:
I’m tipping the Reds to get home by 15 points ... and sadly there will be others, I’m sure, who reckon that’s generous toward the Lions.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


  • Lionel - 2012-05-18 08:30

    I like your choices Rob:):) Cheetahs,if you are in the Sharks half,work on Bissie and Jannie,they will lose it very quickly,then its a certain 3 points:):)

      Jason - 2012-05-18 08:52

      Morning Lionel...........I reckon the Cheetahs will take the Sharks and the Bulls are going to battle this weekend. Canes, Saders, Reds, Stormers and Rebels will all win!!!! Stormers for life!!!

      Lionel - 2012-05-18 09:04

      Morning,If Cheetahs played like they did against us then they will take the Sharks.Sharks no if they slip here its curtains for them.I think this is gonna be a great game>

      Saffa - 2012-05-18 10:21

      Morning good people.....(no Bulls folk that ain't you lot) - I'm not sure the Sharks are being wise starting Lambie...I know their entire campaign kind of rests on his young shoulders, but he did look pretty concussed and wobbly when he left the field last week....The Cheetahs are not the team you want an already wobbly 10 lining up against. Coenie "ek gaan jou doodp##s" Oosthuisen, will be licking his chops....Michalak should have started, and Lambie been 'protected' until the 2nd half (Coenie and co migh not be in the mood for doodp##sing anyone by the 2nd half)

      Lionel - 2012-05-18 10:27

      Morning Saffa,ROTFL,someone is definetly in the mood for p##sing someone,what out Tokkie,you go Saffa. I still maintain if the Cheetahs smell victory they gonna go flat out,to be quite honest I would not mind a Cheetahs victory here.

      BlouTokolos - 2012-05-18 10:47

      Lionel... Tokolos had nightmares about SAFFA the other night. Tokolos dreamt she was a giant fat toothless Stormer girl on a treadmill drinking diet Coke. She had this ugly laugh about her chanting..." I Love Spies... I love Spies"! So yes, Tokolos is still a bit weary of the SAFFA FAT CAT!

      Lionel - 2012-05-18 11:00

      No Tokkie,thats reserved for that Aunty that shouted Jou Ma se P,when that Oom ran on the field. Me thinks Tokkie maybe got crush on Saffa Cat:):)

      Jason - 2012-05-18 11:13

      Well my first prediction is in the toilet>>>>>>>WTF Canes!!!

      frans.visserdsb - 2012-05-18 21:56

      nice comment Tokkie - real classy... play the ball, not the man. (or woman) i am tired of your puerile, stupid, sexist parochial comments. If you cannot say anything nice about someone, don't say anything. You show your background as well as your upbringing (or lack thereof) by spewing stupid insults when you have nothing of value to add. i would debate the relative merits of the Bulls and Stormers game plans with you, but i don't want to get into a battle of wits with an unarmed person. I support SA rugby first and foremost. which means i also support the Bulls when they play against overseassides. You do not seem to have the confidence in your own side, you want the oversides to beat the Stormers so you can sleep easier at night. have faith in our team...or shut up. Works for me either way.

  • Harold - 2012-05-18 08:35

    Go Vrystaaaaat!!!!

      malcolm.molver - 2012-05-18 08:40

      Go Highlanders!

      Saffa - 2012-05-18 10:14

      At least you chaps are all honest......How many of us REALLY want a team to win that could harm our own teams chances of making the playoffs?

      BlouTokolos - 2012-05-18 10:15

      Hoeka Chaka CHEETAHS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      frans.visserdsb - 2012-05-18 10:40

      i am not too stressed about who wins in Bloem. I would prefer it to be the Sharks, if only because i think it would be better for all SA sides if we had 3 in the top 6. The Cheetahs, i am afraid, cannot make it into the top 6 anymore.(9 points behind the Sharks, with a number of sides between them) So imagine SA sides in 1, 4 and 5 - quite possible as things stand now, with the Sharks only 1 point behind the Saders. As things stands now, the Stormers would host the Crusaders, and the Sharks would have to travel to Canberra. If the Sharks move to 5, they will play the Stormers (or the Bulls, whichever ends up at 4th) in SA. This would mean that we would have at least one side, and quite probably 2 SA sides in the semi's.

  • Jed - 2012-05-18 08:42

    Strauss is not in Bizzies league!

      Jason - 2012-05-18 08:53

      Yeah because Bizzie has been all over it this season................................NOT! did you see what i did there?

      Pierre - 2012-05-18 09:20

      I have to disagree... The two players offer different elements for their teams!! Bismarck better on the ground at stealing balls, while Adriaan is better lineout and leader. Both are strong scrummers, ball carriers.. Should be a great match up!! Will start Bismarck at the boks, but have Strauss on the bench... Chilliboy have been losing the plot lately with his game really going down, would start Willie Wepener above him for the bulls.

      Luke - 2012-05-20 02:50

      I completely agree and he showed us why he deserves the no 2 jersey for the boks.

  • heinauto - 2012-05-18 09:34

    Mr. Stormer Houwing's predictions are quite predictable.

  • heinauto - 2012-05-18 09:35

    Go Waratahs GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Knock the socks of the Bergbokkejane!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Staalburger - 2012-05-18 09:51

      Great comment, just not quite applicable to the Cheetahs vs Sharks clash.

      Saffa - 2012-05-18 10:06

      Speaking of socks OLD chap ...when last could you a) put your own socks on b) actually SEE your socks on your feet? See now, my comment is about as relevant as yours.....

      frans.visserdsb - 2012-05-18 10:50

      Nice Heinauto - so you don't trust your own side to do the job on the 2nd? You need to rely on other sides to beat the Stormers in order to protect your side's position at the top of the log? You don't think it is absolutley Awesoem to see two SA sides with almost the same number of points topping the log? you obviously don't have much faith in your side. Unlike me. Go Bulls! Go Stormers!

  • Jp - 2012-05-18 10:04

    Bismarck is like an extra loose forward. That's what makes him such a good player. He defends well, lineouts the past couple of weeks better, but his discipline lets him down. Adriaan is an old school do the hard work hooker. Always gives 110%. SA needs a Tatafu Poloto-Nau, who's all round game is sensational. The two blokes mentioned is without a doubt capible of filling the no '2 John Smit Bok jersey. Going to be a cracker of a game. Some "bad blood" with Justin Downey and Andries Straus, former sharks players in the starting 15 for the Cheetahs. Damn, I just love a local derby. The player always wana kill each other. And when tempers flair, the sounds of: "Ek sal jou bliksem boet" always gets me laughing. Cant wait. hope the SA sides do well this weekend.

  • Marcus - 2012-05-18 10:10

    As long as FS play like last weeks 2nd half, we are in for one hell of a match! We are feeling the loss of Goosen, but I do feel we have good cover for him. Go FS!! and good luck to all SA teams.

  • Saffa - 2012-05-18 10:24

    Have a good weekend all. Go the Stormers, Cheetahs and Blues (yeah I know...).

  • warren.d.manning - 2012-05-18 12:36

    The Sharks francise always save on hotel fees when the play in Bloem.. half their players stay at their folks homes ;)

      Marcus - 2012-05-18 13:28

      LMFAO!!! So true...

  • Nathan - 2012-05-18 12:38

    Agree with all the predictions, had a good game to get us underway now looking forward to some nail biting games over the course of the weekend

  • riaan.v.merwe - 2012-05-18 15:26

    Bbbwwwwhhhhaaaa bbbbwwwwhhhhaaa, niemand in Bissi se klas!

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