War at home



July 18, 2016
War at home

Cape fans love Kiwi rugby

Stormers facing ultimate Test at divided ground.

Newlands will be divided again this weekend when the Stormers host the Chiefs in the Super Rugby quarterfinals.

It will be the first time in his tenure as the head coach of the Cape franchise that Robbie Fleck will cross swords with a New Zealand team.

And despite it supposedly being a home match, Fleck will know that Kiwi supporters in Cape Town will rock up in their hordes to support Damian McKenzie and company.

In years gone by, matches involving New Zealand teams, especially the Crusaders in the past, and the Stormers at Newlands have led to a number of botse between fans.

And there is no doubt that crowd behaviour will again be one of the biggest focus points this week.

Cape Town has already been robbed of All Blacks matches, with the last Test between the two traditional rivals at Newlands being back in 2008 when New Zealand won 19-0.

Incidentally, of the six Test matches that Newlands hosted after that, none of them could compare to the 49653-strong crowd at the home of Cape rugby that day.

It will, however, be interesting to see if the new Springbok era under Allister Coetzee and the Super Rugby teams’ willingness to take the ball wide have made some difference in uniting our fans.

Still, Schalk Burger and his young teammates will have to prepare for a hostile reception in their own backyard.

And if they don’t do their psychological preparation well this weekend, it might be their final match of the campaign on Saturday.

As for the tournament as a whole, it’s almost like Super Rugby is only starting now.

With eight teams left in the tournament, every single match will be a strength versus strength scenario.

The fact that there are four New Zealand sides left in the campaign is proof enough that the guys in Kiwiland have played the best rugby of the tournament.

And heading into the play-offs, any of their teams can still win it.

Well, in playoff matches it’s anyone’s game.

Realistically, Johan Ackermann’s Lions are probably South Africa’s best bet.

Having rested his first team, Ackermann’s charges failed to secure the overall top spot in the competition and thereby said goodbye to a guaranteed home final should they go so far.

At the end of this week, though, we will know if that was the right call to make.

This past weekend marked the end of Round 17 of Super Rugby, but I say the real tournament is only kicking off now.

So let the games begin…

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