Craig Lewis

Three takeaways from past weekend

Damian Willemse scores against the Blue Bulls Damian Willemse scores against the Blue Bulls

What we learned from round five of the Currie Cup, according to CRAIG LEWIS.

Red cards remain continual game changers
There was plenty of talk after the drawn British & Irish series against the All Blacks about the effect of the red card to Sonny Bill Williams in the second Test. Similarly, many questioned whether the outcome of the Super Rugby final might have been different, if not for the sending-off of Kwagga Smith. On Saturday, we once again saw just how a 15 vs 14 contest can completely change the nature of the game. At Ellis Park, the Golden Lions led 31-5 against the Sharks after 45 minutes and looked set for a comfortable victory. Yet, when hooker Robbie Coetzee was red-carded for a dangerous boot to the face, momentum swung completely in favour of the visitors, who ultimately cruised to a 47-31 win. Take nothing away from the character of the Sharks to complete such a comeback, but there can be no doubt that the red card changed the outcome of the encounter.

ALSO READ: Sharks stun 14-man Lions

Damian Willemse’s star continues to shine
When Allister Coetzee recently included young Curwin Bosch in the Boks’ Rugby Championship squad, he suggested that age didn’t matter when it came to backing a talented player to make the step up. Now, we shouldn’t be too hasty in suggesting that 19-year-old Willemse is anywhere near ready to follow in his footsteps, but don’t be surprised if Coetzee is still keeping a close eye on the progress of the prodigiously talented flyhalf. Willemse finished the Super Rugby season as the Stormers’ No 10, while he has an opportunity this Currie Cup to make that position his own. As it is, Willemse produced another impressive all-round performance to deservedly earn the Man of the Match award as Province clinched an important 45-34 win over the Blue Bulls at Newlands on Saturday. He is certainly a player to watch for the future.

ALSO READ: WP power past Bulls

Griquas can be giant killers
Coming into Saturday’s clash between the Cheetahs and Griquas, the team from Kimberley had battled gallantly in all four of their previous games, but managed just the solitary victory. Although that did come against Western Province in the previous round, few would have given them much hope against the previously undefeated Cheetahs in Bloemfontein. The clash certainly appeared to be heading for a predictable outcome when the Cheetahs led 17-6 after half an hour, and again 25-23 late in the game, but Griquas once more displayed their immense fighting spirit as they battled back to clinch a memorable victory. They have proven that they are team not to be underestimated by the ‘bigger’ sides this season.

ALSO READ: Griquas snap Cheetahs’ streak

Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

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