There was a fair amount of criticism when the one-round 2019 Currie Cup competition was announced – and with only one match against each opponent, the realisation was that a home match simply had to be won.
Ironically, three of last year’s four semi-finalists have already suffered defeat at home.
- The Sharks were surprised by Griquas in the very first match of the competition when the visitors beat them 37-13;
- the Blue Bulls, after losing at Newlands to Western Province went down by 27-43 to the Cheetahs in their first home match;
- and now Western Province have lost to the Golden Lions at Newlands. The score was 28-30.
The Golden Lions, also unbeaten after two matches, just avoided a defeat when they scored with little more than a minute’s play left at Ellis Park, when they beat the Pumas 38-37 two weeks ago.
It therefore has become an exciting, unpredictable season with some very good and exciting patches of rugby to date despite the absence of top players who are either with the Springboks or playing overseas.
♦ The one exception, though, seems to be the Cheetahs. It shouldn’t be surprising, as the team is generally made up of their PRO14 players, now refreshed after their to and fro trips to the UK and Italy during their last European season.
The Cheetahs have now played two matches, beating the Bulls 43-27 at Loftus in their first game and then annihilated unbeaten Griquas 68-14 at Free State Stadium on Saturday, playing scintillating running rugby in both instances.
It ensured that they remained one of only two unbeaten teams. The other unbeaten outfit is the Golden Lions, who pipped DHL Western Province 30-28 in Cape Town on Saturday.
In Friday’s game, the Vodacom Blue Bulls earned their first win as they held their nerve in a tight tussle against the Pumas in Nelspruit for a 25-17 win.
♦ In the Currie Cup First Division the Jaguares XV continued to show their class as they earned their four successive victory, while Boland also gave a good account of themselves in an exciting round.
The Jaguares XV powered their way to a 54-15 win against the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth, while Boland outplayed the SWD Eagles 32-3 in George, the Leopards defeated Border 38-29 in Potchefstroom, and the Valke and Down Touch Griffons played to a nail-biting 31-31 draw in Brakpan.