No defence? No issue
DEFENCE was not a priority on the opening weekend of the 2017 Currie Cup competition as no less than 31 tries were scored across the three games.
In the headline encounter of the weekend, played in Nelspruit yesterday between the hosts, the Pumas, and the Golden Lions, 11 tries were scored in a match that produced 79 points.
After a thrilling match the Pumas got up to win 43-36; their first victory over the Lions this year after they’d previously lost three times to the Lions in the SuperSport Challenge. It must be noted though the Lions were not close to being at full strength as the “senior” team is still involved with Super Rugby.
It is the first time since the start of Super Rugby that the Currie Cup has started before the completion of the bigger competition.
The Lions are also still being coached by the men who fulfilled the duties during the SuperSport Challenge, namely Bafana Nhleko, Herkie Kruger and Wessel Roux. Only once the “senior” team are done with Super Rugby will Swys de Bruin and JP Ferreira get involved with the Currie Cup.
Relying mainly on a powerful pack the Pumas dominated the tight exchanges against the Lions yesterday, and led 24-17 at the break. The visitors, like their Super Rugby brothers, favoured a more open, ball-in-hand approach, which rewarded them on occasion but they also coughed up plenty of ball.
It was a ding-dong battle throughout the 80 minutes with the lead changing on a good number of occasions but when fullback Gerrit Smith scored in the 68th minute to get his side into a seven-point lead, the Lions knew they had to score a converted try to just draw level. They threw everything at the Pumas, but some strong late defence kept the visitors out and the Pumas hung on for a famous win.
In Saturday’s game in Kimberley, the Blue Bulls and Griquas produced 12 tries between them as the men from Pretoria edged their hosts 51-45.
In the only fairly one-sided clash of the opening weekend, the defending champions, the Cheetahs, hammered the Sharks 47-12 in Bloemfontein, with eight tries being scored in total. The home team was virtually the entire Super Rugby side, while the Sharks, used a younger squad.