Stormers home semi beckons

2012-06-04 11:41

Cape Town - The depleted Stormers’ tenacious victory against the odds over the Bulls at Loftus on Saturday leaves them in with a tantalising chance of banking a third successive home semi-final in Super Rugby.

GALLERY: Best pictures from the past weekend

It is the sort of possibility that must be keeping the bean-counters at Newlands pretty happy, especially because there is also still a better than outside chance of the side finishing top overall and thus being on course also for a home showpiece game on August 4.

The Stormers, yet to win the title, beat the Waratahs at home in the 2010 semi-final 25-6 and then crashed rather violently to the Crusaders in 2011, 29-10.

But even if they remain notably try-shy this year - with 22 at an average of 1.69 per game only the 14th-placed Lions, extraordinarily, are as poor at crossing the chalk - their defence remains a device of near-perfection and clearly a remarkable level of spirit runs through the entire squad, too.

Several factors conspire conveniently, into the bargain, to suggest that supremacy on the overall table after ordinary season (they are four points off the log-leading Chiefs) can yet be achieved, even if winning the SA conference and ending second for a home semi anyway may seem the rosier scenario at this point.

For one thing, surrendering no more than a trio of players to the national cause - something that has caused much early public indignation at Bok coach Heyneke Meyer - means not only that the bulk of Allister Coetzee’s charges will get a manna-from-heaven three weeks of good rest and refreshment, but also that snubbed players like Gio Aplon, Siya Kolisi, Peter Grant and Juan de Jongh will be out to prove the apparent folly of this when Super Rugby resumes over the weekend starting June 29.

There is also the fact that several Stormers “hardebaarde” are due back in action after the hiatus, and infusing hungry combatants like Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen and perhaps Andries Bekker straight into the brew will only enhance their charge toward the finish line.

In a nutshell, there appears a good likelihood that if the Stormers beat all of the Lions (home), Cheetahs (away) and Rebels (home), they will be in with a strong shout at top spot overall, whilst two from three ought to secure both the SA conference and that home semi.
It is likely that the Capetonians will start as fairly clear favourites to prevail in all three, frankly.

The Chiefs’ undoubtedly impressive mastery on the collective table goes on for the time being, although their run-in looks rather more challenging: New Zealand derbies against three other teams all still eyeing the playoffs - the Highlanders (away), Crusaders (home) and Hurricanes (away).

It is extremely difficult to retain momentum indefinitely in Super Rugby - the Bulls have just learnt that ruefully after three losses on the trot - so just maybe the Chiefs are due for a fall-off in form at a most inconvenient time?

Getting rather more nerve-jangling in an all-SA context is the duel now between the Bulls and Sharks for what may only be one other playoff spot for teams from our country - a couple of weeks ago the prospect of all three local “giant” franchises making the cut looked much better than now.

The gradually slipping Bulls currently lie fifth overall, four points clear of the Sharks in seventh. They have an extra game to play, although it needs to be kept in mind that that also means the Sharks have a bye weekend yet to come, meaning an automatic four points to their credit.

A decisive match, therefore, may well be the meeting between these very foes at Mr Price Kings Park on Friday July 6 - it could turn into a virtual eliminator, rather like the clash right at the end of last year’s ordinary season at Loftus when the Sharks won 26-23 to squeeze out the Bulls and steal sixth place themselves.

Did the Sharks bungle things strategically in their zero-log-points disaster against the lowly, much-maligned Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday?

In their understandably keen quest to push for a fourth try, which might at least have ensured them two losing bonus points in the 38-28 reverse, they simultaneously spurned opportunities to take penalty kicks for the posts and get within seven points of the Lions by that route.

Had they done so, there would still have been enough time to strike for a fourth try anyway and potentially share the spoils 38-38: under those circumstances they might have emerged with a healthy enough three points from the game (two for the draw).

The fact that they drew a heartbreaking blank after 80 minutes meant that they tumbled out of the top sixth, into seventh and level on points with the Hurricanes one slot ahead of them - so just one point via the route of a penalty in the final quarter would have been enough to keep them in the morale-boosting playoff zone.

Certainly for the Sharks, the derby against the Bulls amounts especially to “must win” now ... and a big challenge for John Plumtree will be to ensure that his troops are not fatally rusty for it; their break period amounts to four weeks rather than most teams’ three.

Remaining games for the three playoff-challenging SA sides:

Stormers (played 13, 54 points):
Lions (h), Cheetahs (a), Rebels (h)

Bulls (played 13, 49 points):
Cheetahs (h), Sharks (a), Lions (h)

Sharks (played 14, 45 points):
Bye, Bulls (h), Cheetahs (h)

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


  • Harold - 2012-06-04 11:43

    Not going to make a difference where they play. Will just choke again.

      Jack - 2012-06-04 11:52

      Ag ja Harold - and your vlou nulle won't even qualify for the play-offs AGAIN...

      Dirk - 2012-06-04 11:53

      Harold, this is the only advice I can give you... Get laid and(or) join a boxing gym... I’m certain this will help you get rid of that gavel stuck up your @ss. Geez... whole morning, why so damn negative? : )

      Hansie - 2012-06-04 11:57

      Yep. Just like the Sharks and Bulls choked Saturday. Hahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!

      Dylan - 2012-06-04 12:05

      Couldnt agree more harold. We all know that the Stormers can never seem to capitalize on their best seasons with actual titles. Thats why Newlands has affectionately become known as The Stadium of False Hope up north. At the least the Bulls have got 3 titles in the past few years, I dont think the stormers have even got a currie cup in over a decade! Go BOKS!!

      Chris - 2012-06-04 12:10

      Hehehehehe.....nog steeds naar Harold! As ek so terug kyk oor die huidige S15 en Saterdag se resultaat lyk dit vir my iemand anders choke bietjie. Sharks vs Bulle en Crusaders vs Chiefs......Stormers vs Lions????? Geen maklike games in S15? So S15 babalas is moeilik? Hahahahahahaha!!!!

      Harold - 2012-06-04 12:10

      No use in making the playoffs if you are just going to lose. As always.

      Stephen - 2012-06-04 12:14

      @harold, a serious question. Are you retarded?

      razz.tazz.9 - 2012-06-04 12:14

      Would have been nice to play the PINK KOEIE in the semi's at Newlands with Harold (Suurgat) the referee.

      Harold - 2012-06-04 12:16

      A little.

      Jono - 2012-06-04 12:30

      @Harold(obviously) that type of guy that likes to stir just because you bored but i will entertain it as i will entertain the pinkBOKS loosing on saturday. Since you are a little bit of a RUTARD (please dont correct the spelling, lets see if you can guess the movie) and you know so much about rugby and my province, why dont you explain to me how come we are on top regardless of our b and c side playing for the majority of the season? and u only as good as your last game!!! you wish your wife chokes

      gerhard.debruijn - 2012-06-04 12:37

      19 - 14

      Shaun - 2012-06-04 12:38

      Harold stop being a suurgat, you would have said the exact opposite if the bulls had our season. Stormers are in a great position and if we end up losing to the Chiefs or Crusaders in the playoffs that is just better than us on the day, well then at least we can say were the best in SA and we put ourselves in a position to win this thing. Our youngsters are coming through and they're staying at the stormers so its just a matter of time untill we dominate all domestic and super rugby. Soon the Bulls will be the chokers so just piss off because you have absolutely nothing to back up your arrogance!

      francois.smith.7 - 2012-06-04 12:44

      I think the Stormers must learn that to be Champions you need to WIN the final - if you loose there, you are the first loosers. Anything from there down is just for academic reference. Thus the big question is if Allister can coach the team to win the semi and the final?

      Harold - 2012-06-04 12:45

      No Shaun, I wouldn't. When the Bulls make the playoffs, they usually win.

      Schalk - 2012-06-04 12:59

      like your team choked this weekend Harold...

      Eduard - 2012-06-04 13:06

      harold is the product of inbreeding!

      Harold - 2012-06-04 13:09

      Losing a regular game isn't choking, it's just losing. Losing a playoff game, year in and year out, well that's another story.

      Cliff - 2012-06-04 16:10

      Ja Lloyd - Name changes but the clown stays the same !!!

      Acta - 2012-06-04 17:01

      @Harold, jy nou nog leke suur oor julle ni di paal gehaal het ni, ons het seke vuil gespeel, seke ook met di ref, ass ref, en tmo gespeel maar tog is ek so bly die eind telling was... Onthou jy nou wee:))\r\n@Jono, as jy n suid afrikaner is dink jy moet darm ons nasionale span ondersteun, al kom hul van rep. v Pretoria, is hule nog steeds suid afrikaners en we'll die engelse.. nie. Hangover:)

      chris.holtshausen - 2012-06-04 19:45

      Well, Harold...Why would 14 'other' teams in the competition then bother to participate if winning was everything? After all, only one can team out of the 15 can win at the end. I think 3 semi-final spots in the last 3 years are not bad at all. Something that the Bulls can only wish to accomplish...or not?

      Chantelle - 2012-06-05 10:36

      Jip hulle gaan choke! Geen BMT nie!

  • Marius - 2012-06-04 11:57

    1.69 Tries per game, yet ol' Rob is bitchin" about the lack of Stormers in the Bok squad, but fails to mention anywhere in his biased reporting the amount of Sharks in the squad. We'll see who gets home semi's in a few weeks time....and who gets another hiding in the semi's like last year.....

      Harold - 2012-06-04 12:10

      Like every year.

      paul.sdoow - 2012-06-04 13:49

      well it won't be the bulls will it now cause they didn't make play offs? and remember two weeks back all the bulls backed the sharks . . . well you guys might as well support them again cause they ain't letting the bulls into play offs again!

      Eduard - 2012-06-04 14:16

      Marius, wishfull thinking.....

  • Sulaiman - 2012-06-04 12:00

    Aplon, De Jong and Siya could havve been periferal players and need not been in the starting line but definately in the match 22 and it would bring a more balanced side brossow could also been added in a match 22.

  • Hansie - 2012-06-04 12:01

    Everybody were waiting for the Stormers implosion. It did not happen. Now everybody will probably wish them bodily harm, aids and who knows what. I said last week that the Bulls need to take a long hard look at themselves if they lose against the Stormers. What happened? They get rewarded with places in the Springbok squad.

      Harold - 2012-06-04 12:11

      They will still implode, just be patient.

  • MaakdieBulle - 2012-06-04 12:01

    Match fixing !

      Cliff - 2012-06-04 16:13

      What the heck you going on about - Bulls never deserved the try - Foot -Try !!!

  • Edward - 2012-06-04 12:08

    The Springbok squad is chosen and we can only support them, but behold, the Stormers made a big statement this weekend, NEVER write them off, no matter how many tries the bulls scored this season and how little the Stormers scored, it was 1 try each. AC proved himself as a coach and that the systems are working. All the assistant coaches proved their worth. As a Stormer supporter I am very proud of my team, and to those Bulls supporters in the Dross on Saturday night, you guys should be ashamed of how you behaved, it was disgusting and disrespectful to the ladies around!

      Delfino - 2012-06-04 13:03

      Maybe they are struggling to maintain their ego after being forced to wear pink . Maybe some anger management classes will help calm them.

      Jacques - 2012-06-04 13:51

      Het jy dan ander gedrag van n bul supporter verwag Edward?

  • wanderering.wanderer - 2012-06-04 12:14

    I get a semi every morning and thats at home as well..... bwahahahaha. Choke again team.

      Therealmakoy - 2012-06-04 13:16

      poor thing....that`s probably why she left ... a semi just wont cut it. Go get help Slappies

      wanderering.wanderer - 2012-06-05 10:37

      @realmakoy, usualy your sister and girlfriend asks me only to use a semi as that is all that capetonions are used to, getting a semi and no final....rotflmfao.

  • Koos - 2012-06-04 12:18

    Moet nie die kuikens tel voor die eiers nie uitgebroei het nie.

      Harold - 2012-06-04 12:25

      Every year the same story.

  • MaakdieBulle - 2012-06-04 12:18

    Die Stormer moet nou bonus punte kry vir die laaste 3games, en hoop die Chiefs struikel teen die Crusaders en die Cains. Die geluk by die ongeluk is dat die Stormers nou goed kan rus

  • Anwar - 2012-06-04 12:26

    Edward, agree with you 100%. Judging by some of the comments here, does the behaviour surprise you?

      Edward - 2012-06-04 12:58

      I guess it shouldn't, one can only live in hope...

  • Johan - 2012-06-04 12:50

    @Harold - Daai hoedjie op jou kop is amper so histories soos toe die Bulle laas iets gewen het!!! "2 Years Cupless and counting" - Die Stormers B Span het teen 16 man julle op julle tuisveld gewen en as julle nie baie versigtig is nie het julle nog net 3 games oor in hierdie jaar se super rugby kompetisie! Stormers Groete!!!!!!

      Harold - 2012-06-04 12:52

      Johan, so why would all of you want Stormers 'B' team players like Kolisi, Aplon and de Jongh in your Bok team. If they are not good enough for the 'A' team, well........

      Johan - 2012-06-04 14:32

      @Harold - Ek mors eintlik my tyd om jou te antwoord maar kom ons probeer maar - Sonder Pietersen (heelagter), Vermeulen (Agste Man), Bekker (Slot) en Kitshoff (Stut) dink ek dit is heel gepas om te sê dit was nie ons sterkste span nie maar dit beteken nie Kolisi (Flank) is nie deel van die A Span ook nie Aplon & Kie....As jy nie van posisies weet nie is daar boeke op die rak (Rugby reels vir vroumense of so iets) wat jou dalk sal kan help!!

      paul.malherbe.7 - 2012-06-09 14:39

      JOHAN BLOUBULLMASTIF SPIES WIL GRAAG Hê DIE FORUM MOET HIERDIE FOT'O'S VAN HOM IN AKSIE SIEN GAAN NA en kyk hoe lewe ou brannas johantjie spies in 'n gekkeparadys.

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