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Monday, January 30, 2006

 

Super 14: Cattle carcasses in an abbatoir


My brother is a Bulls supporter in a Lions family. He’s got more chance to be smug than the rest of us. After the Currie Cup Final last year my dad, a transport contractor, phoned him and said he’d landed a choice contract with the Tshwane Metro. Apparently they wanted him to urgently remove a bunch of horns, hooves, torn leather skins, ripped carcasses and cattle shit from some field near the University. If the Bulls can lose to a weaker team at Loftus, then this is their Autumn of Disaster.

In the beginning of 2005, the Bulls fielding basically the same team as the end, beat the Crusaders. By the end of the season they had lost to the Sharks at Loftus and conceded defeat against the Cheetahs. The Cheetahs are not a team of stars. They tactically outthought, outwitted and eventually outlasted the Bulls. 2005 was their highwater mark. It’s downhill from here, a slippery slope to relegation.

Their history is not too bad

Aside from the Stormers, the Bulls have been a very consistent team in the Super 10 and Super 12. Aside from their horrors of 1998 to 2002, they have never placed lower than 8th, and they have 2 semi finals to show for their efforts. However, the Bulls are a streak team. They either have a streak of wins or a streak of losses, as the 1998 to 2002 run attests. They live off combinations of factors to survive. Without these, they fail. Two of these factors are worryingly reminiscent of that horror run.

Their schedule is geared to disaster

They start their schedule off with a rematch of the Currie Cup Final, but this time in Bloemfontein, against a foreign legion strengthened Freestate side in the guise of Central Unions. Then a bye, and then the Brumbies. Loftus derbies between the Brumbies and Bulls are traditionally fantastic matches, but with players in their backline like Sterling Mortlock, Mark Gerrard, Matt Giteau and Stephen Larkham, the Brumbies should have enough material to blast the Bulls wide open with their staid 90’s style midfield.

After this they face other light blues the Waratahs in Pretoria. Then they get the chance to avenge the by now famous 23-0 loss in Antarctica against the Highlanders, this time in their own climes. This is followed with Tana Umanga’s tough Hurricanes outfit in Pretoria, before the short trek to Bloem by the sea in Perth to match strength with John Mitchell’s newcomers who recently put three tries past the Crusaders.

Then onward to a certain loss in Auckland against David Nucifora’s Blues, down to Hamilton for the Chiefs and on to Brisbane for a showdown with the woeful Reds in Brisbane’s Bruce Stadium. Then they fly back home and face the Cats and Sharks at Loftus in successive weeks. Then we get a replay of the best match of 2005 with the Crusaders facing them in Pretoria. This time, however, we should the Carters and McCaws of this world outclass the Dlulanes and Hougaards of the world.

Then it’s down to Newlands where they’ve never won a Super 12 match to end their miserable campaign. Why is this a tough schedule?

Firstly they play strong four strong teams at home in the Crusaders, Hurricanes, Waratahs and Brumbies. Then they play the toughest home fixtures away in Bloem and Cape Town. Their overseas games are against the weakest teams where they should suffer because of the Bulls traditional fear of travel, so no free points off the Reds and Force. And they play traditionally difficult rival Blues in Auckland.

The players are average and they’re outgunned in key positions

The key position where the Bulls are outgunned is flyhalf. Anyone who thinks that Derrick Hougaard can stand up to Stephen Larkham, Dan Carter, Butch James, Luke McAllister and Willem De Waal needs their head read. Added to this Morne Steyn’s performance when faced with average speedster Ryno Van Der Merwe in the final, when faced with the likes of Luke Watson, Richie McCaw, George Smith and David Lyons, he will crack like a rotten egg dropped on a tarmac. With the key pivot position uncertain the Bulls won’t be able to send the only quality player in their backline, Bryan Habana anywhere.

Their reliance on 90’s style crashballers in Dries Scholtz and JP Nel also means that there is no vision in the midfield. Their centres are effectively flank replacement ball carriers for the forwards to feed off from the rucks, and this is where the next problem arises.

In an analysis of the 2005 semi against the Waratahs, RSG commentator Nicky Van Den Berg lamented how slow the Bulls were to the breakdowns. It cost them the match. In the final of the Currie Cup, Ryno Van Der Merwe’s efforts at the breakdowns were one of the most important reasons for the failure of the Bulls physicality. Everyone has watched and seen. The Kiwi and Aussie teams traditionally use speedy fetchers and this will be where they crack the Bulls this year. If Ryno Van Der Merwe can do it so easily, imagine what Luke Watson, David Lyons, Richie McCaw and George Smith are going to do…

Then we have the unsettled front row that so dominated previous encounters. Guthro Steenkamp won’t scrum in anger until the horse has bolted and Richard Bands won’t either.

The cohesive requirements for Bulls success aren’t there

The Bulls of the 70’s had Thys Lourens and Buurman Van Zyl. The Bulls of the 80’s had John Wiliams and Naas Botha. The Bulls of recent years had Heyneke Meyer and Anton Leonard. Anyone else see the pattern? This year there’s no Leonard and Meyer is making retirement noises. With these crucial blocks gone or crumbling, the Bulls won’t be a force this year and the rot will start in the Super 14 when they are relegated.

Now add to this litany, injuries to Richard Bands, Guthro Steenkamp, Victor Matfield, Fourie Du Preez and now Gary Botha. The last three are important leaders in the team. Also there are no apparent leaders stepping up to the plate. Bulls sides do well when they have strong leadership. This year they don't.

Carcasses in a slaughterhouse

The Bull is a mighty creature. Goring the matador with vicious horns. A traditional symbol of strength and virility. That is until it ends up hanging on tenterhooks in an abattoir. Waiting to become T-Bones. This year’s Super 14 will see Bull carcasses on tenterhooks in the abattoir of the Super 14 meat grinder.
Comments:
1st to post!!! Who da man?

Anyway, i just wanted to say:

Clayton gets it up the bum from Sir Alex!!!
 
Yeish EINA wes!!!


And this from somebody who wants to go on a cruise ship looking for somke cabin boy lovin'....


Clayton...

If I were you I wouldn't take THAT!
 
Sies

We shouldn't speak that way in front of a picture of my little girl.
 
Heheheheh

Aldooooo


Vleeeeiiiisss



Where are you?
 
DAvidS

aldo is buying a truck- to take away the Ded Bull
 
can't fault your reasoning, DavidS. Bulls to rediscover the form of 98-02 (5 freaking years of finishing last!).

It's amazing how arrogant their fans actually are.
 
I see the geniuses at keo have stumbled onto a brainwave. Dries Scholtz to play at hooker for the cows. Maybe they could rope Roets and Nel in to play in the loose forwards (although Nel is too slow) and they might be competitive at the breakdown.  
I just love that introduction. Topical and true.  
Thanks JJ

It's true and I was with my dad when he made the call and came up with the idea.

My boet was so the moer in when he heard us laughing at him he just put his phone down and then refused to speak to us from there!!!!!
 
davids - sometimes you need to turn your back on family, I'm afraid. I mean, a Bulls supporter! In your own family?

Sies, man!
 
Oh rob he and I don't really talk to each other.

I had a fallout of major proportions with his wife a year or so back

Ergo - no longer on speaking terms.

She's a WP supporter BTW.


Hell man.

You can choose your friends, but family......eish man....
 
Oops. You're better off without em!  
WPW bellydances @ BVRs lunches!!
WES EK GAAN YOU KRY JOU BLERRY K@KHUIS!
 
Uh Uhm!  
Speak up knadas you blue balled traitor to the Spears!

say what you want!
 
Methinks he arent liking the taal that
is being spoken on thees thread.
 
knadas

Surely when 'skeltaal' is used it would be better that our esteemed international guests are not offended!
 
ergo:


Write it in Afrikaans....
 
:)

Sure DavidS

Thats why I just sort of cleared my throat... :)
 
heheheh

okay.
 
Really enjoyed this piece, DavidS.

Nice analysis.
 
op die wysie van Worsie Visser se OSbraai op Kromdraai

En . Cheetahs hou bulbraai op beloftus

Almal vreet saam

van heinde en verre cheer almal saam

Ollie trek 'n havana op die Blou Bul se stoep

ver innie verte, 'n Super 14 wat roep

GROM SAAM- GO VODACOM CHEETAHS-GO SUPER 14
 
Davids

Fair comments, a bit harsh, but you've been this harsh on all teams, so who am I to complain. don't have time to get into the nitty gritty now.

Robd

My team still have to go back to their worst form, your's have allready regained their B-League pre 1990 form!
 
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