The last Super 14 final is taking place in South Africa between the old rivals, the Bulls and the Stormers. Man, it doesn’t get any better than that. There are few who will disagree that the top two teams of the 2010 Super 14 survived to the end and are fitting finalists.
Next year will see a Super 15 being introduced to rugby fans that will be start in February and end sometime in August, with the 2011 rugby World Cup taking place in New Zealand in-between.
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(Above: Schalk Burger will lead the Stormers from the front and will be up for a highly physical game)
There are some huge match ups in tomorrow’s final that will take place in Soweto, instead of Loftus Versfeld, the fortress of the Bulls.
One of the biggest will be Andries Bekker coming up against Victor Matfield. Bekker has had an outstanding season and has been one of the catalysts of the Stormers success this season, while Matfield is still regarded as being the top lock in the international game and a key ingredient to one of the best Bulls team that has ever been assembled.
Bakkies Botha will be sorely missed by the Bulls and this could be a key factor that will be targeted by the Stormers. Danie Rossouw is an able back up but Bakkies is the hard man of world rugby, and can be regarded as irreplaceable, yellow cards and all.
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(Above: Victor Matfield scoring against the Crusaders will captain the Bulls in the Super 14 final)
Another big match up will be two players who are in contention for the Bok no 8 jersey. Pierre Spies has had a great season, but then again so has Duane Vermuelen who has relished playing for the Cape Town team. Vermuelen has been strong on attack and devastating on defense and must have been noticed by the Springbok selectors.
Morne Steyn is ice calm under pressure and will be needed come crunch time at the World Cup next year. We have seen Joel Stransky win a World Cup for us in 1995 with a drop kick and the class of 07 won another World Cup by strangling England and scoring with the boot when the opposition was forced into making mistakes. It won’t come as a big surprise to see the Bulls employ similar tactics in the Super 14 final either.
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(Above: Duane Vermeulen in fill flight)
Peter Grant has been the key in getting the Stormers backline to operate at high speed and it will be interesting to see how the Bulls plan to counter him. Anything can happen when Bryan Habana gets the ball when in a bit of space and with Jacques Fourie taking the ball up to straighten the line, the Bulls defense will have to be very sharp.
At fullback there are another two players who are likely candidates for the Springbok jersey. Zane Kirchner has been dependable all season while Joe Pieterson has at times looked like a young Percy Montgomery and has been super reliable with the boot.
One man stands out who can swing the game into the Bulls favour however. Fourie du Preez showed in the semi finals against the Crusaders just what a world class player he is. Du Preez is one of the tough men of South African rugby and has earned his place as one of the stars of the game.
Fourie knows when to take the pressure off his flyhalf, when to play back to his forwards and can sense when the opposition is off guard. If it takes a moment of individual brilliance to win the Super 14, then Fourie Du Preez could well be the man. Then again we all know that Bryan Habana can be just as devastating and can turn a game on its head. Bring it on………
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(Above: Bryan Habana has had a great Super 14 season and will be hungry to win the trophy with his new team)