Posts Tagged ‘crusaders’
After many lean seasons in the Super 14, the Newlands faithful have eventually got something to cheer about.
The Stormers emphatic 42 -14 win over the Crusaders proved that they have the character to go all the way in the 2010 Super 14. The Crusaders came at the Stormers and an early Dan Carter charge down and try could have swung the game right at the beginning into the Crusaders favour.
However, Schalk Burger who is growing in stature as the captain of the Stormers kept the troops calm and let from the front ably assisted by the ever improving Duane Vermeulen and the Andries Bekker who is developing into a world class lock forward.
Bekker has been instrumental in bringing the winning culture that is developing in Cape Town. He has found his feet in international rugby and is starting to impose himself in the big games.
As Mark Andrews the legendary Springbok enforcer and World Cup winning lock forward noted, the first few seasons of big rugby are difficult as Bekker would have been tested by the big men like Bakkies Botha.
Bekker has shown that he is now ready to take his rightful place in world rugby and outclassed All Black’s Chris Jack who is back in the Crusaders team as well as Brad Thorne.
Every great team has its enforcer and Bekker has taken up that mantle in the Stormers team. Mark Andrews, Adri Geldenhuys, Moaner Van Heerden, Kevin De Klerk and Bakkies Botha have all played major contributions to the Springbok’s successes over the decades and eventually Cape Town has bred a lock that fits into the mould.
[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=andries+bekker&iid=8666932″ src=”2/e/b/4/Rugby_Super_14_e5e3.jpg?adImageId=12719219&imageId=8666932″ width=”400″ height=”559″ /]
(Above: Andries Bekker outplayed All Blacks Brad Thorne and Chris Jack and his reputation as a world class lock forward is growing with every game.)
Going into the build up to the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and South Africa is looking good up front. The old firm of Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha will still be around barring injury and Matfield will be hard pressed to stay ahead of the man from Cape Town as the number one lock in the country.
5 Reasons for the Stormers success:
Rassie Erasmus and Alistair Coetzee
With Erasmus as Director of coaching and Coetzee the head coach, these two men have formed a great combination that is paying off on the field. Rassie was given the cheque book and brought Brian Habana and Jacques Fourie into the fold. These two world class players have fitted right into the brand of rugby that the Stormers want to play. Coetzee learnt invaluable lessons as Jake White’s understudy and a happy culture exists amongst the players.
The incredible Schalk is a machine who is relishing the role of captaining the side. Immensely popular and respected by his team mates and has been instrumentally in ensuring the players are playing for the jersey and for each other. Nobody can rattle Schalk and the Stormers have been a composed team this year that have handled the big pressure moments well.
Bekker has dominated the line out, cleared out well in the rucks, had galloping runs on the wing that opponents have found difficult to stop and has added “grunt” to the tight five. He is now a world class player in his own right.
He has moved up in the pecking order of number 8’s in South Africa and must be breathing down the neck of Pierre Spies. His cross defense against the Crusaders was sublime and his dismissive tackles of two Crusaders attackers just meters from the Stormers try line proved just how strong Vermeulen is and how dedicated he is to the cause.
[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=duane+vermeulen&iid=8536672″ src=”6/3/8/c/Vermeulen_of_South_c509.jpg?adImageId=12719271&imageId=8536672″ width=”500″ height=”321″ /]
(Above: Duane Vermeulen carries the ball up. He has played a big part in the Stormers success in 2010)
The Stormers Back Line
It is difficult to highlight certain players when the back line is operating as a unit and everyone is playing their part. Peter Grant is getting the line moving and the experienced Jacques Fourie is a colossus in midfield. Bryan Habana is probably under rated in terms of defense, while Gio Aplon continues to surprise everybody with his calmness under the high ball and the gaps that he just seems to glide through.
The Stormers boast the best defensive record in the competition and the Crudasers discovered this to their chagrin at Newlands.
[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=bryan+habana&iid=8242251″ src=”3/c/2/1/Rugby_Super_14_05ca.jpg?adImageId=12719307&imageId=8242251″ width=”500″ height=”385″ /]
(Above: Bryan Habana defense has been as good as his attacking capabilities in the 2010 Super 14)
Can the Stormers eventually go all the way and win the Super 14? Schalk Burger has cautioned the players not to get ahead of themselves but was pleased with the intensity with which the Stormers overcame the Crusaders. The big hurdle will be the Bulls at Newlands in two weeks time. The winner of that game may well end up being crowned as the 2010 Super 14 Champions.
Well, after a bit of a break it is time to start blogging again. The jolt that the Cheetahs gave the Sharks in their Super 14 rugby clash is probably just what I needed to get off the couch and behind the keyboard.
The boys from Bloemfontein really took it to the Sharks and were well rewarded for their efforts. So what have been the outstanding moments of the Super 14 so far in 2009?
Well, the ELV’s haven’t helped in the slightest at the breakdown. Each week we see different interpretations and to be honest I do not actually even know what the rules are anymore. What the IRB needs to do is to reintroduce rucking at the breakdown.
A bit of good, old fashioned mountaineering will soon sort out players falling over the ball, players being on the wrong side of the ruck and players with hands on the ball much quicker than the ELV’s will ever be able to do. Give the ref’s a bit of discretion about what is dangerous rucking and what is “legal rucking”.
Then we will see teams like the Bulls get good, quick ball that Wynand Olivier could play with and with deadly finishers like Brian Habana lurking, the Bulls would be difficult to beat. Imagine Bakkies and Danie Roussouw cleaning out the ruck by going over anybody lying on the wrong side.
New Zealand rugby has also suffered from the sanitisation of the ruck under the new laws. Touring teams of the past knew that when touring New Zealand they would be taken out on the ground if preventing the ball from coming out by lying on the All Black side of a ruck.
The hard men of the game would again take their righful place. Brad Thorn from the Crudaders, All Black Ali Williams and other big men like Schalk Burger and Juan Smith would flourish under the old rules.
Too many times this past weekend we had to witness cynical play as teams are prepared to sacrifice a free kick to give their defensive lines time to settle.
Adam Thomson from the Highlanders impressed as a stealer of the ball who stayed on his feet and competed well. Juan Smith stood out but I wonder what has happened to Schalk Burger this season? One hardly notices Burger on the field but in fairness the Stormers pack is soft up front, forcing the loose forwards to tighten up. Maybe Schalk feels “whistle whipped” under the new rules. It would be interesting to know how many of the yellow cards Schalkie has picked up over his career relate to the breakdown. Too many, one would imagine.
Jonathan Kaplan had a bit of a shocker in his game over the weekend, but was not helped by his over exhuberent touch judge who made some odd calls. But the Aussie and Kiwi commentators made up for bad refereeing in no small measure.
Stu Wilson calls a spade a spade and we really need to hear more from the former All Black winger. From dissing a New Zealander for not having the guts to take a high ball to asking if there is a mould in South Africa that enables us to churn out monster packs, the Kiwi is a class act.
Phil Kearns and co also have their moments and are not as bias as the Aussie commentators of the past.
Can the Sharks and the Bulls go all the way? Hopefully the Sharks got their wake up call and will march onto the semi finals, while the Bulls just need some consistency to their game.
MOMENT OF THE WEEKEND: Bakkies Botha blowing kisses to Phil Waugh after the big man dealt out a bit of medicine……….