Sunday, October 14, 2007


In the Oranje Outback, rain is always welcome. Being relatively far from the sea and quite high above sea level, constant rain in the Outback is not a guaranteed event. But as in California- when it rains it pours!

No better example than last night- when massive cloud formations were swinging in from the Northwest and "inclement weather" delayed the kickoff of the semifinal twice between the Vodacom Cheetahs and the Vodacom Bulls, in order to determine who will meet the Lions in the 2007 Currie Cup Final.

A visibly excited Joost vd Westhuizen was exclaiming that the wet conditions will bring "parity" to the Bulls attempt to stay in the competition. A valid point, as it would surely hamper the Cheetah's ability to speed up the game in the second half and basically forcing mistakes by the opponents on which the Cheetahs will pounce with ruthless perfection.

The wet conditions was however a known situation to both coaches as both coaches Drotsky & Human named a 5-2 split on the bench. Tight dominating forward play is also the Bulls strongest point so things were looking less bleak for the Bulls than most of their Tshwane based supporters have given them credit for. Apparently the Blue Bulls Rugby Union requested 3000 tickets , but when only 3 were sold on the first day and 25 on the second, the rest were returned to Bloem, hopefully the Currie Cup will follow the same route later!

The conditions were not really enabling the players to play fest rugby, but I seriously doubted whether fest rugby would have been displayed anyway by any team for the largest part of the game - as this match was scripted as a hard slugged out affair upfront from the beginning. What was interesting was that the veteran no skyblue 9, Niel Powell, was preffered over JP Joubert.

One of my concerns going into the game was a post made earlier the week by fellow Cheetah Blogger Private Ryan on Ruggaworld. In it he said the only thing the Cheetahs had to do was to hoist up and unders on Roets and that he will inevitably kick it back. This statement had put some degree of fear into me as Johan Roets had earlier announced his retirement - which I thought was somewhat premature - but I just had a feeling that the Johan Roets that I saw since 2003 had punted as a gOOde option for Green 14 in NH conditions (and Vodacompark did resemble the very best that MudviLLe could have offered) might come to upstage my OranjeOktober party.

One prediction from vAAndrig was however spot on. It was not a case if JP Nel would get a yellow, but when.

After he had already applied the - now castless - forearm against the Cheetahs a couple of times, he was warned by Craig Joubert. A couple of minutes later he clobbered a Cheetah with a forearm that would have made any Fidjian green with envy and which might get him a WWE contract. Because that is where he belongs, as the play-acting of not knowing why he was sinbinned would be much appreciated by the crowd following the farce that is the leading light in sports entertainment, the WWE.

JP Nel must really be rated as one of the dumbest rugby players ever!

That said- the Cheetahs were unable to capitalise on his absence and the Bulls streched the lead with another Bulls penalty. The Loftus Liefling was however not really on song and whenever he missed, Liefling was played on the Vodacompark Sound system, much to the delight of the Vodacom Park partisan crowd, who were reasonably vocal, despite the conditions.

Both kickers struggled with the wet underfoot and made a couple of mistakes that had no effect on the scoreboard.

The Bulls were able to put the pressure more effectively on the Cheetahs and also won the kicking for distance contest. Only gOOde counterrucking and effective first time tackling ensured that the Cheetahs stayed in the game. Corniel van Zyl was back to his best and poached a couple of Bulls throws- sometimes at crucial points. The Cheetah scrum was also dominant while Calldo was on but later on in the second half the Bulls were the stronger scrummagers. The introduction of Bands did have an effect on the scrum but it did not influence the result of the game.

The game was a thrilling contest but the only real moment from the Cheetah side came when the Bulls were attacking for six minutes on the Cheetah line- the ball was turned over- Duanne Vermeulen carried it forward, brilliantly put Eddie Fredericks away who converted the opportunity.

The other magical moment of the game was the line break of Johan Roets but since the pass was forward, the try was not awarded. Must have been a heartbreaking moment for the celebrating SkyBlue 15. Soon afterwards the Orange glow of the setting sun was visible in the stadium, which turned out to be a gOOde omen for blikOOr supporters.

After a farcical display of TMO application, the game was slugged out till the 80th minute and when the time was up, the Cheetahs were in the lead!

gOOde enough for me to celebrate another OranjeOktober!

Well done to the Cheetahs and the Coaching staff, you are deserving of my unconditional respect and support!

60 points out of a possible 70, a homefinal, for sure a very successful Currie Cup campaign!

I am further of the opinion that the 2007 Cheetah CC squad would have beaten the 2007 Cheetah S 14 squad 9 out of ten games and most of the wins with a healthy margin! Again, well done!

That said, let me pay tribute to the Bulls and $hark$ Rugby Unions, their respective coaches, players and of course their supporters.

In a year where the Bulk (no, we provided the bulk- you provided the majority of players! :smile: ) of the BoKKe is coming from your sides, plus we have a more than adequate opportunity to bring the RWC home, your Currie Cup squads had played really well and deserves your and my respect!
You guys will reap the benefits of this exposure next year. I am also of the belief that if the BoKKe win the RWC, the William Web Ellis can be exhibited for quite lenghty spells at Loftus and Kingspark, to pay tribute to the role that those two Unions played. Yes, the four Cheetahs in the RWC squad is for sure in the match 22, but the CC team would not have been able to perform to this level, if we had provide 9 or 11 players to the RWC squad, respectively.

Now for the final against a very dangerous side in two weeks time!

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