Photo Credit: Hannes Naude / BJ Botha
It was another great weekend of Currie Cup rugby going into the last few rounds before the semis.
It’s the depth in the squad that really counts now, especially for teams that are going to be playing in the playoffs.
However, they still need to take it game by game as everything is still to play for. As we have seen in the past and saw this weekend, all the teams are a threat and can knock you down your log position at any stage.
BJ’s Carling Currie Cup Review of Round 6.
This would be a fixture that no matter what it was going to be physical and relentless and it did not disappoint. The Lions would’ve been under no illusions how tough it would be but would not have envisaged being 7 points down within 90sec, a dream start for the home side.
The Pumas could not have asked for a better start as mentioned, it was again an error on the kick-off which gave the Pumas possession and then a great offload to score under the sticks. The Lions however responded straight away with a well worked try off their maul, a trend to follow the game from both sides.
The game was very attritional with both teams going at each other as they were quite evenly matched upfront with the Lions edging it in the scrum department and the Pumas dominating in the lineout, especially on defence. The Pumas had most of the possession and territory but it would not be until the 37th minute when they would take the lead going into half time with a very well worked drive off a 5m lineout.
The Lions were out the blocks early in the 2nd half with a brilliant score to take the lead which they would not lose for the rest of the game.
The Pumas came back valiantly with some well worked scores of their own however it would be the more experienced Lions outfit that took the points on offer to keep the scoreboard ticking and ultimately secure a great away win.
Phakisa Pumas 25 (17) – Tries: Willie Engelbrecht, Simon Westraadt, Erich Cronje. Conversions: Ginter Smuts (2). Penalty goals: Smuts (2).
Xerox Lions 33 (13) – Tries: Jaco Visagie, Tiaan Swanepoel (2). Conversions: Elton Jantjies (3). Penalty goals: Swanepoel (4).
The Sharks and Griquas both came into this fixture with a loss they wanted to put right, however, it was always going to be a tough ask for the Griquas as they were on the road again playing in the Shark tank against a Sharks outfit looking for a big performance.
The Sharks were slow out the blocks again and it was almost a case of déjà vu when the Griquas took possession of a poor kick-off receipt from the Sharks and managed to score within 45 sec and give the travelling side the dream start they wanted.
It was the wake-up call the Sharks needed and they responded almost immediately with a try of their own to get the scoreboard going. This unfortunately was not a trend to follow as the Sharks put themselves under unnecessary pressure with poot execution of their kicks and unforced handling errors, allowing the Griquas to stay in the game. However, a messy and scrappy first 25 min turned into a superb last 10 minutes for the Sharks as they went on to score three tries and secure the bonus point just on half time.
The second half followed the way it finished as the Sharks scored their best try of the game with all skills on show early on and this seemed to sharpen their focus for the remainder of the game. The Griquas stayed in the fight with some well worked tries of their own however the Sharks remained in control to secure a convincing win and give them great confidence going into the closing stages of the competition.
Cell C Sharks 47 (26) – Tries: Fezokuhle Mbatha, Werner Kok, Yaw Penxe, Lukhanyo Am, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Dylan Richardson, Aphelele Fassi. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (6).
Tafel Lager Griquas 19 (7) – Tries: Enver Brandt, Gideon van der Merwe (2). Conversions: Tinus de Beer, Ashlon Davids.
Forecast as the game of the weekend and the potential of a humdinger battle, it didn’t disappoint between these two Currie cup powerhouses. The Cheetahs playing for a spot in the top four and Province wanting to cement their semi-final position even more.
It was as expected with both sides not playing much rugby in their half and playing the territorial game early on. With a WP try disallowed early in the game it became a battle of the boot with both sides exchanging penalty kicks to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Frans Steyn with some incredible long-range conversions to keep his side in the hunt.
It took a few scrum’s, but WP started to show their dominance in this area which evidently led to a vital score for them just before halftime, making it a 12-point margin going into the shed.
The 2nd half followed a similar trend early on with WP kicking some penalties to keep the scoreboard ticking over for them. The Cheetahs came out playing a lot more in the 2nd half which did lead to some unforced handling errors but paid off when they secured a penalty to score off a driving maul and close the deficit to nine points.
The Cheetahs then backed this up a few minutes later with a great try from their own half, showing how dangerous their backs can be in open space which brought the scores level after 60min on the clock.
This change of momentum seemed to give the Cheetahs a little more spring in their step and they followed this up with another penalty to take the lead. However, the lead would change several times again with the Cheetahs leading into the last minute. As with the dominance that WP showed at scrum time throughout the game, they would have the last say with a scrum penalty which was converted with time upon the clock. For me the game of the weekend.
Toyota Cheetahs 29 (9) – Tries: Wilmar Arnoldi, Rosko Specman. Conversions: Frans Steyn (2). Penalty goals: Steyn (5).
DHL Western Province 31 (17) – Tries: Jaco Coetzee, Bongi Mbonambi. Penalty goals: Tim Swiel (7).