This is not the place to find who won, who scored, or who played well. This is what I thought of what I saw, mostly useless information, and why the refs and commentators were sh1t.
New Zealand v Australia
Aaron Cruden’s first penalty attempt was so pathetic it barely cleared his own kicking tee. To his credit, though, he showed tremendous ball to come back and successfully slot his next kick from the touchline.
Will Genia milked a penalty out of referee Joubert by ‘passing’ quick ball into a lazy runner at an Australian ruck. The commentators were quick to compliment Genia’s ‘fast thinking’ and ‘clever play’, all down to his ‘experience’.
It’s sad to see Genia resort to cynical, cheap tricks like that, but I suppose it’s a consequence of his own terrible form and a lack of confidence in his side’s ability to find a seven-pointer. Very sad.
Ma’a Nonu has developed into a kicking inside centre. He easily kicks more than he breaks tackles these days. And not, as far as I can tell, because he’s a good kicker. (Must be because he’s even worse at breaking tackles these days…)
The Ben Smith 13 experiment wasn’t a success, and New Zealand may have to deal with playing the best player in Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship in his best position.
So if you’re a young backline player in New Zealand, tell your coach you want to play centre, because the best team in world rugby needs one (and will need another when Conrad “Oupa” Smith retires.
But the most embarrassing moment by a centre award has to go to Tevita Kuridrani who snatched an intercept away from the All Blacks and was then caught from behind by Ma’a Nonu of all carthorses.
Western Province v Golden Lions
Jean de Villiers also failed to make it to the tryline after intercepting in midfield, but at least he was caught by Anthony Volmink (who runs like a young Joe Rococoko).
I only had one eye open for most of the game, but I just think you have to give the sort of tries that Gio Aplon wasn’t allowed in the first half.
It looks forward because Schreuder is running across and dropping off as he makes the pass, and Aplon is rushing past and hitting the ball at speed. But you have to give those, surely.
Cheslin Kolbe is only 19 years old! N-n-n-n-nineteen! How is he possibly as quick and strong and composed as he is at that age?
It probably helps that he’s already been to a Junior World Champs and a Sevens World Cup. And he was born and raised in Kraaifontein. If they make them tough anywhere, it’s there.
Eben Etzebeth stands 10 metres in front of the opposition kicker at every penalty – the old line of sight distraction – but at his height he’s bound to cop a falcon one of these days.
Check out Demetri Catrakilis running the perfect Werner Greeff line to score his try. The kid is getting better and better and The Stormers would do well to get his autograph.
The Newlands crowd is historically the best and biggest in South Africa, at least in pure numbers terms, so what the hell happened that only 31,000 showed up for this semi-final?
The Newlands crowd is also the best in South Africa in terms of Mexican waves per game. It doesn’t matter what’s happening on the field, you’ll never talk WP fans out of getting out their seats and putting up their hands.
Unfortunately, the Newlands crowd is also the worst in South Africa when it comes to booing the opposition kicker. Cut it out, idiots.
Did you see Michael Rhodes and Schalk Burger preparing to come on as second-half substitutes? Rhodes was doing all sorts of stretches to get himself ready for battle, while Schalk just stood maar with his hands behind his back calmer than a Hindu cow.
I guess that’s the kind of calm and perspective that comes from 18 months on the sidelines with an injured knee, then an injured calf, then a cyst pressing on his spine, and finally a little bit of bacterial meningitis. All after coming back from a broken neck in 2006.
Scarra Ntubeni just about pulled out of fully committing to that spear tackle, and that’s what got him a yellow instead of a red card. So, he’s 90% an idiot, but that might not be enough to save him being suspended for the final.
Natal Sharks v Free State Cheetahs
Hugh Bladen can’t actually say “scrumhalf” without first saying “nuggety”. Just like he can’t tell us that a player is on debut without telling us where he was born, what school he went to, and what that school’s famous war cry is.
“He’ll normally kick that nine and a half times out of ten,’ said Blades. I’m not sure how he’ll do that, but shame we know what you mean old timer.
Adriaan Strauss absolutely loves the squeeze ball (you know, when you squeeze the ball back between your legs when tackled). I bet he squeezes more balls than anybody else in the Currie Cup.
It was bad enough seeing 40% of seats empty at Newlands, but how the hell were there only 17,000 people in the stands at Kings Park? John Smit has shown he knows how to bring quality people onto his staff, but it looks like he needs to focus on putting bums on seats if he wants to be able to pay his stars.
With TMOs looking out for foul play these days (generally I’m in favour of this), I get the feeling players are being puss1es a bit more than they used to, because they know that referees are more likely to refer an incident if a massive guy is lying ‘injured’ on the ground holding his head or throat. Don’t let rugby become soccer, don’t.
Keegan Daniel is one of my favourite sh1t players. He is so sh1t! Like when he tried to end the game after the hooter but couldn’t even kick the ball directly into touch, backwards.