How interesting is this: the high-flying Free State Cheetahs have won every regular season match this year, which puts them on the same path to greatness that the Golden Lions so successfully walked last season, and are just two wins away from matching the Lions’ amazing run of last year’s successful season.
Standing in their way is a semi-final clash against the very Lions, which if they win, they will either face the 2014 champions, Western Province, or the Blue Bulls in the final.
The Cheetahs have been really good so far this season, if their eight wins from eight reading is anything to go by. And they in fact have already beaten the Lions this season, overcoming them 37-29 in Bloemfontein, in a match which saw the home team reverse a deficit of 18 points at some point.
Interestingly, the defending champions, who have been rather unpredictable this campaign, travel to the City of Roses again for this semi-final clash, owing to their fourth-place finish on the regular season log. It must be said that the Pride of Jozi also do pose a threat to some degree, and if their second-half resurgence against the Sharks in last week’s final regular season match is anything to go by, then surely we will be in for a fierce clash!
I was lucky enough to be at the Emirates Airline Park in Jo’burg for the above-mentioned match, and I must say that the Lions’ centre pairing of Howard Mnisi and the evergreen Rohan Janse van Rensburg was my highlight. The pair literally ran circles around the opposition and was instrumental in their team’s huge second-half comeback.
This is why it’s a great shame that Mnisi has been ruled out for the semi and for a further four-to-six weeks due to a knee injury he sustained in the battle against the Sharks.
The Cheetahs’ quasi-invincible form and the Lions’ reputation as the country’s current best team are the reasons why I believe that this particular semi-final will be a thriller and that whoever will come out victorious will eventually be crowned as this year’s champions.
In all honesty, I don’t think that either one of the other semi-finalists will have enough to stop either of the big cats in the final. I must add, though, that my other prediction is that the Bulls will easily brush Province aside in Pretoria.
Both semi-finals take place on Saturday, 15th of October.
*Featured image by: sarugby.net.