The first real rugby weekend of the year came and went, with local teams battling each other to ready themselves for the Super Rugby season ahead, while up North the Six Nations got under way to some unexpected results.
Locally, the Bulls, Cheetahs and the Kings got wins against the Lions, Stormers and the South Western Districts respectively, delivering some entertaining rugby.
The Bulls played a rampant Lions side at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday, with both teams registering four tries in a to-and-fro match which ended with the Bulls edging it 38 – 32. It was a young Bulls side that took on a Lions team that has been playing rugby for three weeks, but had still made plenty of changes to their side ahead of the clash. Jurgen Visser impressed for the Bulls while the Lions young guns in Anthony Volmink and Jaco Kriel showed promise.
Over in Bloemfontein, the Stormers streaked into what seemed an unassailable lead over the Cheetahs, but the home team fought back bravely and managed to snatch victory with the final kick of the match, Hansie Graaff the hero on the night, slotting a 55m monster penalty to win by one point, 27 – 26. The moment of the match has to be when Juan Smith took to the field for his planned 15 minutes, playing like the man we remember so well. The Cheetahs have missed their leader.
The Kings got their preseason off to a winning start, scoring five tries in the 29 – 13 victory, which will give them some confidence heading into a Lions preseason match this weekend. It is reported that the Kings players who stood out include centre Siyanda Grey and scrumhalf Shaun Venter.
In the Six Nations, the opening match was always going to be a tough encounter that could go either way, but I was surprised to see Ireland beating Wales 30 – 22 at the Millenium Stadium, Wales being the defending champions. The second match between England and Scotland at Twickenham was a comfortable outing for the English, beating a hapless Scottish outfit 38 – 18, with Owen Farrell the man who caused most of the damage, scoring 18 points on the day. The final match of the weekend, played on Sunday between Italy and France, was thought to be a walk over for the French. But it was not to be as the Italians stunned the French 23- 18 and threw a spanner in the works for new French coach Philippe Saint-Andre. The French were, along with England, preseason favourites, and it seems that the trophy is now between the English and Ireland.
Tonight sees the kick-off of the 2013 Varisty Cup, so enjoy the extended rugby weekend!Tweet