No de­fence? No is­sue

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - JACQUES VAN DER WESTHUYZEN

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.