Stormers to spark more Oz pain?
Cape Town – South African teams have a golden opportunity to
cash in on a further fortnight in Super Rugby minus the need to play any New
It was probably no coincidence that teams from the local
conference earned a fairly rare clean sweep over foreign foes last weekend: the
losers were all Australian.
Promisingly, perhaps, both of the next two rounds in the
competition see SA sides again skirting rivals from the land of the current
world champions, who boast as many as four teams (Hurricanes, Chiefs,
Highlanders and Crusaders) realistically vying for the finals series cut.
It is not until the weekend beginning on May 1 that such
challenges resume, when the Sharks play their first overseas tour match against
the Highlanders in Dunedin.
Until then, there is every reason to believe local sides
harbouring playoffs aspirations should stiffen their quests.
After all, the stats so far confirm that South African
franchises again this year fancy playing Aussie foes far more: the scoreboard
thus far stands at 7-1 in favour of SA teams over Australians, the lone blemish
being the Brumbies’ 20-3 victory over the Cheetahs in Canberra recently.
By stark contrast, New Zealand sides boast a 9-5 advantage
over SA rivals in bilateral games involving those particular countries.
But the further good news, by extension, is that South African
teams have a further 12 games remaining against Aussies --- their conference is
collectively the weakest as things stand -- and only six against New
This weekend, the prospect of further bragging rights over
Australia looks quite rosy, as the resurgent Stormers, so heartened by their
bonus-point triumph over the champion Waratahs in Sydney, tackle a Force team
in Perth which is reeling from seven losses in succession and out of the
playoffs picture unless a turnaround miracle occurs for them in the second half
of ordinary season.
Meanwhile the Cheetahs entertain the Reds, bottom of the
Aussie conference and thumped a week earlier by the Bulls at Loftus: a home win
in Bloemfontein might even get Francois Uys and company believing they can rekindle
top-six dreams of their own.
A weekend ahead, South African activity in Super Rugby will
be restricted to two derbies: Stormers v Bulls and Lions v Cheetahs, with the
Sharks getting a welcome bye after a long and often troubled spell without a
What’s that they say about making hay – or at least trying
to – while the sun shines?*Follow
our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing