There were a number of very interesting developments over the last weekend in a Currie Cup season that has not been short of excitement to date.
While much of the talk will focus on Western Province’s multiple brain-fart induced implosion at Kings Park, the reality is that in losing an away game to another “top tier” side, they didn’t really do all that much harm to their own tournament prospects. It was the other two weekend losers, the Cheetahs and particularly the Blue Bulls, who appear to be facing a far trickier run in with just four matches left to play.
Who would ever have thought that we’d see a Currie Cup log featuring those two sides at the very bottom, when the likes of the not-quite-Super-Rugby Lions, Bok-bereft Sharks and never-fancied Griquas soar above them? Thanks to this year’s long-overdue strength-v-strength format, though, there’s no place to hide in a very evenly-matched Currie Cup competition and with the spectre of a relegation battle against the in-form Kings looming, things could very quickly go from bad to unthinkably worse should the Cheetahs and Bulls not get their houses in order.
Griquas seem to have finally awoken from the strange slumber that saw them lose their first three games and have now won three on the trot. They’ve got a few big away clashes remaining on their calendar, but have the momentum and should they be able to pull off a shock win at Newlands this week – given that Province are going to have to ask each of the groundsmen to have a run at loose forward – they should manage to cement their place in the top four and maybe even challenge for a home play-off game. To do that, though, one fancies they’ll need to beat one or both of the Sharks and Lions too, whom they play in their two last fixtures.
Right now, it’s definitely last year’s finalists who are looking like the side to beat, with the Lions looking to increase their stranglehold on top spot by beating their Durban rivals in Johannesburg this Saturday – as they’ve now done many times in succession. Whatever the result there, though, one fancies that the Sharks will be there or thereabouts when the semi-finalists are decided.
For the Bulls and Cheetahs, though, at least one won’t be and there’s a good chance that both could miss out. While the Bulls have been poor this season, they’ve only lost once at home and with a run of two games yet to come at Loftus, they could recover sufficiently to sneak into fourth. The Cheetahs have lost at home twice and will need to find a way to beat a number of teams – including Province and the Bulls – away if they’re to turn things around.
Whatever the case, though, one fancies that this weekend’s bottom-of-the-table clash at Loftus represents a final shot at redemption for one of the sides. The one that loses though, is facing a one-way trip to Currie Cup oblivion.Tweet