With the excitement brought about by the first two weeks of the Currie Cup , the competition is unlikely to take a back seat with the advent of South Africa’s entry into the 2009 TriNations this weekend.
Currie Cup round-up courtesy of www.rugbyweek.com
The early win for Western Province over defending champions the Natal Sharks brought huge anticipation to the Western Cape, and it will not have diminished after the Blue Bulls beat WP 30-22 at Loftus on Saturday.
That’s because the WP tight five were all over the traditional strongmen of the Bulls – and ironically the backline, always Western Province’s strength and the perceived weakness of the Bulls over the years, saw the home side take the spoils at Loftus.
Mauled in the scrums and outplayed elsewhere, the Blue Bulls backs made the difference in what was a match in the real tradition of this North-South derby.
What must hurt in the Cape is that it is one of their own, former Springbok Pieter Rossouw, who has made the difference with the Blue Bulls’ backs.
Springbok Wynand Olivier made the first of young Gerhard van Heerden’s two tries, displaying some of the impressive form he’s been in this year.
Inexperienced SA Under-20 flyhalf François Brummer filled the boots of Morne Steyn more than adequately, and Van den Heever’s second try showed pace and promise aplenty.
Hard-working Blue Bulls flank Jacques Burger was immense in chasing the loose ball and carrying when needed, and was deservedly named Man of the Match. Not far behind Burger as the best player was Brummer who turned in a composed performance that belied his lack of top-flight rugby experience.
He scored 15 points with his boot with three conversions, two penalties and a drop goal. Full marks to the Bulls defence but WP turned down a number of kickable penalties and their failure to breach the Bulls defence from the lineouts cost them dearly.
Western Province played all four quarters out of position, and despite the efforts of Luke Watson and the rest of a good, fiery pack, their backs will have to come to the party if they want to be there for the play-offs.
The selections so far point to a dearth of class replacements behind the pack, and that could be fatal as the long season wears on.
The Blue Bulls were much, much better than the previous week against the Lions, but still have some work to do before Friday night’s match against the Sharks in Durban. Scrumming, one suspects, will be at the top of their list.
– Griquas remained on top of the Currie Cup log with another five-pointer as they beat the Leopards 36-11 in Kimberley.
But it was not even remotely as impressive a performance as their win over the Free State Cheetahs the previous week, with poor handling and a lack of structure affecting their effectiveness.
It took a try two minutes from time by prop Albertus Buckle to give them a bonus point in a match where they trailed 8-3 early on against a Leopards side that gave it their all in their second away match and second defeat.
– The Sharks were buoyed by their 46-10 win in Durban over a poor Boland Kavaliers side, and rightly so. It wasn’t an impressive performance if one discounts the scoreboard and the seven tries they scored, although there was much to savour in the win – notably some good pack drives and a solid defence.
However, John Plumtree’s side – like Western Province – lacked authority at the back.
Impressive pace from Lwazi Mvovo on the wing and another standout performance by captain Stefan Terblanche will not be enough to win the Currie Cup, and even the arrival of Argentinean Martin Hernandez will not solve that problem overnight. The seven tries hide the fact that they are still far off the mark.
– The Lions and the Cheetahs played some pleasing but mostly ineffective rugby. Free State will wonder how they let a 19-0 lead slip while the Lions, although winning 31-22, were not convincing in finishing their opportunities and made too many poor decisions when it mattered.
“It was an important win, being a home match,” said Lions coach Hans Coetzee, who intimated that they will start bringing in players who have recovered from injury or, in the case of the US’s Todd Clever, are returning from international duty.
Full marks to the Lions for fighting back from a 19-point deficit in a match marred by some inexplicable decisions by referee Stuart Berry that greatly affected both sides.
Both these teams will have to improve drastically if they want to be around for the play-offs – and the question is whether either side has the depth to keep up in a 12-week challenge.Tweet