So in the cold light of day as one wakes up to the realisation that the Boks are indeed out of the World Cup and it was not just a bad dream, and as one gets that necessary coffee down while Sky New Zealand laud David Pocock and Greg Growden goes on and on about the grit and determination of the Aussies in the local paper, that one has to ponder the question as to why?
It’s a tough one to answer, and certainly both Peter de Villiers and John Smit struggled to produce an answer to this most pertinent question at the post match press conference, Smit saying that it was a first for him to have won everything but the game.
The possession and territory stats, as with every other stat they produce these days, were obscenely in favor of the Boks … So they were obviously doing a lot right … Yet they could not win the game.
Hence the Aussie open sider and character of the men in canary yellow being deservedly praised. Kiwi ref Bryce Lawrence has come in for some stinging criticism for the way he handled the breakdown, and perhaps that played a part in the result, but the Bok finishing has to be questioned. So many opportunities, yet so few points. One of sports greatest cliches talks about the ability to convert territory and possession into points, and the Boks simply could not do that.
Plenty Aussie supporters came up to us in the Wellington pubs after the game saying they are not sure how that happened, with many going as far as saying that they did not deserve to win the game. And good on them for being so magnanimous … But did the Boks deserve to win it?
This was a head to head between two of the best rugby sides in the world. The passion was evident from minute one, with both teams (and coaches) clearly desperate for the win. Some great rugby was played, but as yet another sporting cliche suggests, only one team could win. This time round it was not the Boks. The son will come up tomorrow, just like it did today … (although traveling North from Wellington in our camper van seems to have put pay to that big ball of fire for the mean time!)
Several column inches will be dedicated to why’s, if’s, but’s and how’s of the Peter de Villiers reign, and the decisions made in the preparation for the World Cup, no doubt many of them on this very blog, but given the path chosen, that was as close to the best Bok side available as one could get. And they were just not good enough on the day to get past Australia. So gain die lewe …
Me, I am just happy that it is chapter in Bok rugby that can now be closed and sit behind the bookmark rather than in front of it.
And in sunny SA, I see that the Currie Cup is getting pretty spicy, which is not a bad thing given that it will now need to replace the World Cup in terms of oval ball entertainment
A lovely little October pressie for WP and the Cheetahs from Griquas as they managed to get past the Bulls in a high scoring upset, although given the form of the Bulls this year, they can beat anyone, but also lose to anyone …
Golden Lions 42 – 25 Western Province
Griquas 48 – 44 Blue Bulls
Leopards 14 – 41 Sharks
Pumas 23 – 29 Cheetahs
Golden Lions – 50
Sharks – 43
Cheetahs – 42
Western Province – 36
Blue Bulls – 35
Griquas – 35
Next weekend’s fixtures:
Blue Bulls v Leopards, Pretoria 19:10
Cheetahs v Griquas, Bloemfontein 15:00
Western Province v Pumas, Cape Town 17:05
Sharks v Golden Lions, Durban 19:10
Which means the Sharks will probably need to beat the Lions to get a home semi, and that last semi spot will come down to who of the Bulls and WP get their five try bonus point against the Leopards and Pumas – no longer the pushovers they once were, even away from home. But WP definitely have the edge with the extra log point, and perhaps more pointedly, the much bigger points difference (71 to 13).
Righto, five days till we have to be in Auckland for the semis … Bring on the North Island … First stop Taupo and some jet boating and skiing!