The Lions, Sharks and Western Province all secured important wins in the eighth round of the Currie Cup, with the Cheetahs moving to the top of the log.
Home advantage proved decisive in all four matches staged over the weekend. The results in Johannesburg and Cape Town, however, were somewhat unexpected, and have impacted on the standings.
Boosted by the influx of their Vodacom United Rugby Championship stars, the Lions romped to a 26-10 bonus-point win over the Pumas on Friday. As a result, The Pride have ended their three-game losing streak and moved up to sixth place on the log.
The Cheetahs certainly made the most of the opportunity when they hosted the eighth-placed Griffons. While the visitors were competitive, they could not prevent the hosts from claiming a 33-10 victory in a match that was delayed due to inclement weather.
Thanks to the results in Joburg and Bloem, the Cheetahs have overtaken the defending champion Pumas and moved to the summit. Only two log points separate these teams and it remains to be seen whether the Free Staters can maintain that lead in the coming rounds.
The Sharks consolidated their position in third place when they beat Griquas 24-6 in Durban. Despite the weekend’s results, the Durbanites remain six points behind the Pumas.
The Vodacom Bulls travelled to Cape Town on Saturday with plenty of momentum, having won their three previous matches. With a number of Springboks in tow, they were expected to extend their winning run.
In the end, WP won the north-south derby by 31-7, and moved up to fourth in the standings. The result saw the Bulls dropping down to seventh – but only four log points separate the teams, with six rounds still to play in the league phase.
Looking ahead to round 9, Griquas face the Lions on Friday in Kimberley (3:30pm). In the remaining fixtures of the weekend, the Pumas host the Griffons in Nelspruit on Saturday (1pm), before the Cheetahs and WP are set to lock horns at Free State Stadium (7:45pm), with the Bulls to entertain the Sharks (5pm).