Front Row Grunt

Rugby … with cauliflower ears

Weekend preview …

Tank Lanning

Yes please … It’s Test rugby time, and Test rugby time in my home town … Us Capies have not been able to say that since 2010, and only get to say it once this year, so you might understand the excitement, even if for a game that the Boks should win with relative ease …

The curtain raiser in Sydney should be a humdinger, even without the Quade Cooper vs Richie McCaw theatrics, while Griquas vs WP is a replay of the Vodacom Cup final played earlier in the year where WP got out of jail in the last seconds, and finishing it all off, Lions vs Sharks is a replay of last year’s Currie Cup final!

If that won’t get you to finish a well stocked coolerbox while hoovering what comes out of the Weber and biltong box, then nothing will!
Friday 17 August

19:10 Cheetahs vs Blue Bulls
Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Referee: Sindile Mayende
Assistants: Marius Jonker, Reuben Rossouw
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee
Last meeting: 10 September 2011 in Bloemfontein: Drew 22-22

You think Naka was grumpy about losing last weekend? Hells Bells, but that is a lot of changes! Strauss out the mix completely for too many yellow cards, Smit to wing, Ebersohn back as the flyhalf, and in and out man Floors back at 8 in place of Boom Prinsloo. This while the Bulls – who looked classy and composed against the Griquas – have made only one change – bringing in S15 superman CJ Stander to replace the injured Arno Botha. Sportingbet will give you 5/3 on the Cheetahs and 3/5 on the Bulls and they have it spot on!

My prediction: Bulls by 7

Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Riaan Smit, 13 Robert Ebersohn (c), 12 Barry Geel, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Kabamba Floors, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Frans Viljoen, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Bench: 16 Elandre Huggett, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Francois Uys, 19 Davon Raubenheimer, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Philip Snyman, 22 Nico Scheepers.

Blue Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Ulrich Beyers, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Clayton Blommetjies, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Ruan Snyman, 8 Dewald Potgieter (c), 7 CJ Stander, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Cornell Hess, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Dawie Steyn
Bench: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Lohan Jacobs, 21 Lionel Cronjé, 22 Jan Serfontein
Saturday, 18 August
12:05 Australia vs New Zealand
ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistants: Nigel Owens (Wales), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)

How well do you think Rob Horne and Anthony Fainga’a have slept this week? Look, they might not gel, but my oath, the thought of Nonu and SBW in the same centre combination is mouth watering. Barnes ahead of Cooper is the better call as a Test flyhalf, but he is no match for the master. It’s at loose forward that I think this game will be won, though. Read is the key. Not only a truly classy 8, but his presence allows McCaw to play his natural game (and against Pocock, expect a little blood to flow) and with Messam back to his best, this is a very well balanced trio. Sportingbet will give you 2/1 on the Aussies and 9/20 on the All Blacks and they have it spot on!
My prediction: All Blacks by 9
Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Anthony Fainga’a, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Berrick Barnes, 9 Will Genia, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 David Pocock (c) 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson
Bench: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 James Slipper, 18 Rob Simmons, 19 Radike Samo, 20 Michael Hooper, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Drew Mitchell

New Zealand: 15-Isreal Dagg, 14-Cory Jane, 13-Ma’a Nonu, 12-Sonny Bill Williams, 11-Hosea Gear, 10-Dan Carter, 9-Aaron Smith; 8-Kieran Reed, 7-Richie McCaw (c), 6-Liam Messam, 5-Sam Whitelock, 4-Luke Romano, 3-Owen Franks, 2-Keven Mealamu, 1-Tony Woodcock.
Bench: 16-Andrew Hore, 17-Ben Franks, 18-Brodie Retallick, 19-Victor Vito, 20-Piri Weepu, 21-Aaron Cruden, 22-Ben Smith
14:30 Griquas vs Western Province
GWK Park, Kimberley
Referee: Marius Jonker
Assistants: Jason Jaftha, Francois de Bruin
TMO: Shaun Veldsman
Last meeting: 3 September 2011 in Kimberley: WP won 41-35

All eyes on the visiting 8th man for obvious reasons, but with Liebenberg having moved up in the world, it’s the smaller Fourie who will do duty in a front row that was dominated by the home side in the Vodacom Cup final. Admittedly, both Malherbe and Kitshoff were missing, but it’s an area that Griquas will definitely target. No club game as a warm up for Vermeulen (after not having played since April) together with a flyhalf who might be thinking of Barney’s on the PE waterfront, and this is a potential banana peel for WP. Sportingbet will give you 11/4 on the Griquas and 4/11 on WP, which might favour the visitors just a tad. No one would have a heart attack in shock should the home side win this …

My prediction: WP by 5

Griquas: 15. Francois Brummer, 14. Wilmaure Louw, 13. Jean Stemmet, 12. Stefan Watermeyer, 11. Rocco Jansen, 10. Marnitz Boshoff, 9. Jacques Coetzee, 8. Leon Karemaker, 7. Justin Downey, 6. Wesley Wilkins, 5. Martin Muller, 4. Ligtoring Landman, 3. Lourens Adriaanse, 2. Ryno Barnes (c), 1. Steph Roberts
Bench: 16. Matthew Dobson, 17. Janro van Niekerk, 18. Frikkie Spies, 19. Jaco Nepgen, 20. Marnus Hugo, 21. Walter Venter, 22. Richard Lawson

WP: 15. Gio Aplon, 14. Gerhard van den Heever, 13. JP du Plessis, 12. Marcel Brache, 11. Ederies Arendse, 10. Demetri Catrakilis, 9. Louis Schreuder, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Jebb Sinclair
6. Tyrone Holmes, 5. De Kock Steenkamp,  4. Don Armand, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Deon Fourie (c), 1. Steven Kitshoff
Bench: 16. Siyabonga Ntubeni, 17. Brok Harris, 18. Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19. Yaya Hartzenberg, 20. Nic Groom, 21. Kurt Coleman, 22. Damian de Allende
17:00 South Africa vs Argentina
Newlands, Cape Town
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistants: Jérôme Garces (France), John Lacey (Ireland)
TMO: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)

Three props in the front row, and a big physical 8 in Lobbe … I am guessing that the Puma wings are not going to see much ball at Newlands. The Bajada is written into rugby folklore for good reason, but it is less of a factor these days as scrum techniques round the world improve. And when Guinazu spent a year in the Cape, he could not keep Wicus Blaauw out the Stormers side. The all Sharks front row should be able to handle whatever comes their way. Nervous times if Jannie goes down early though. But the key to the Bok game is getting good go forward from the pack, like they got in the second test against the Poms. And for this, Bekker will need to play closer to the ball, rather than in the backline like he has been want to do in blue and white. Especially with the smaller Daniel at 8, who must be given the space to play a more roving and linking game that he is so good at. Get that, and the out of form half backs will have the necessary time on their hands to get the backline moving. Sportingbet will give you only 1/7 on the Boks and 7/1 on Argentina, and that is difficult to argue!
My prediction: Boks by 22
South Africa: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers (c), 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Bench: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Jacques Potgieter, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Patrick Lambie, 22 JJ Engelbrecht
Argentina: 15 Lucas Amorosino, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 11 Horacio Agulla; 10 Juan Martin Hernandez, 9 Nicolas Vergallo, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (c), 7 Alvaro Galindo, 6 Julio Farias Cabello, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 1 Rodrigo Roncero
Bench:  16 Bruno Postiglioni, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Tomas Leonardi, 20 Leonardo Senatore, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Martin Rodriguez

19:15 Sharks vs Golden Lions
Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Mark Lawrence
Assistants: Christie du Preez, Blake Beattie
TMO: Deon van Blommenstein
Last meeting: 29 October 2011 in Johannesburg: Lions won 42-16

So the Lions players have been focusing on the Currie Cup rather than talking to their agents about what to do in a Super Rugby free 2013? Perhaps not! Bloody tough environment for the defending champs, and while it has to be affecting the preparation, the players will be seeing every game as a job interview as they seek greener pastures … And they were not half bad against the Cheetahs last week! A few changes to a side that played very well to beat WP in the rain at Newlands, but they are all returning S15 players. Quite a big call to move Viljoen to flyhalf and bring in Botes to 8 though. Sportingbet will give you 4/11 on the Sharks and only 11/4 on the Lions, and there might be a little value in those Lions odds, but only a little!

My prediction: Sharks by 9

Sharks 15. Louis Ludik, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Meyer Bosman, 11. S’bura Sithole,  10. Riaan Viljoen, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Jacques Botes, 7. Jean Deysel (c), 6. Francois Kleinhans, 5. Anton Bresler, 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Wiehahn Herbst, 2. Craig Burden, 1. Dale Chadwick
Bench: 16. Monde Hadebe, 17. Julian Redelinghuys, 18. Jandre Marais, 19. Lubabalo “Tera” Mtembu, 20. Cobus Reinach, 21. Marius Joubert, 22. Gouws Prinsloo

Lions: Andries Coetzee, JR Esterhuizen, Lionel Mapoe, Waylon Murray, Anthony Volmink, Butch James, Michael Bondesio, Derick Minnie, Josh Strauss, Cobus Grobbelaar, Franco van der Merwe, Hendrik Roodt, Jacobie Adriaanse, Callie Visagie, JC Janse van Rensburg (c).
Bench: Francois du Toit, CJ van der Linde, Willie Britz, Warren Whiteley, Ross Cronje, Guy Cronje, Ruan Combrinck.

Other fixtures that might be of interest …
Currie Cup 1st division

Friday 17 August
15:00 Griffons vs Valke
19:00 Pumas vs Leopards
19:00 Eastern Province vs Boland
19:00 Border vs SWD

Friday, August 17
16:30 – EP vs Boland
16:30 – Pumas vs Griquas
17:05 – Cheetahs vs Western Province
17:15 – Border vs Lions
18:00 – Griffons vs Valke

Think these predictions are a load of horse manure?

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And to finish, for fellow rugby anoraks and SuperSport commentators …

Bok Record watch:

• South Africa and Argentina have played against each other in 13 Test matches since 1993, with the Springboks winning all 13.

• The 13 consecutive Test victories over Argentina is a record for Springbok rugby. This record was equalled during last year’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand when South Africa beat Wales 17-16 in Wellington for their 13th consecutive win against Wales.

• This will be the first Test match for Argentina at Newlands and the Springboks’ 49th. South Africa’s record here is: P 48; W 32; L 14; D 2; Win ratio 67%.

• The biggest win at Newlands was against Namibia in 2007 when the Springboks recorded the second highest score in South African Test rugby history, winning 105-13.

• Bryan Habana is South Africa’s most capped Springbok wing with 76 Tests in this position (he has played one Test at centre) and is also most experienced player in the squad with a total of 77 Test caps. He is the Springbok top try scorer with 40 career tries in Tests (all scored as a wing). Bryan is one of 11 players who scored two tries in a Test match against Argentina and needs two tries to equal Jaque Fourie’s Springbok record of nine career tries in The Castle Rugby Championship / Tri-Nations tournament.

• Morné Steyn will surpass Butch James as South Africa’s most capped flyhalf when he plays on Saturday. It will be his 38th Test cap and 27th consecutive Test. Morné holds the Springbok record for most career tries in Tests as a flyhalf – 7. He is also the Springbok record holder for most career penalty goals in this tournament – 49.

• Morné needs 12 points to equal Percy Montgomery’s Springbok career record of 210 points in this tournament. He needs one drop goal to become the sole record holder for most career drop goals in the tournament. Currently he shares the record of four career drop goals with André Pretorius.

• His first penalty goal will be Morné’s 50th career penalty goal in this tournament. He needs five penalty goals to reach 100 career penalty goals and also needs 11 points to reach 50 career points at Newlands.

• Bismarck du Plessis holds the Springbok record for most tries in Tests as a hooker – 6. He is one of nine Springboks who have scored three career tries at Newlands and will play together with his older brother, Jannie du Plessis, in their record 24th Test as brothers.

• Jean de Villiers is South Africa’s most capped centre with 60 appearances in this position.

• Frans Steyn is one of only three Springboks who have scored two career drop goals at Newlands and together with Naas Botha the only Springboks who achieved this in one Test match.

• Springbok career record holders at Newlands are: Percy Montgomery – 108 points, 17 conversions and 23 penalty goals; Nine players have scored three tries; Dawie Snyman, Naas Botha and Frans Steyn – 2 drop goals each.

• Springbok Test match record holders at Newlands are: Percy Montgomery – 35 points; 12 conversions and 7 penalty goals; Four players have scored three tries each; Morné Steyn also scored seven penalty goals; Naas Botha and Frans Steyn – 2 drop goals each.

• Ruan Pienaar will become joint second most capped substitute (34 caps) with CJ van der Linde should he take the field on Saturday. Ollie le Roux played in 43 Tests as a substitute.

• Frans Steyn needs one drop goal to become the sole Springbok record holder for most career drop goals at Newlands – 3.

Get thee to Superbru and Sportingbet to earn your keep, then ease into that well earned braai and coolerbox my friend! ENJOY!

Author: Tank

Ex WP prop with a fair amount of experience in all things media ...


  1. If Sportingbet have the Boks at 7/1 they could be out of business by Monday or they know something that no one else does.