What we learned from the latest round of the Currie Cup and Pro14, according to CRAIG LEWIS.
Petersen, Du Preez send out reminders of their ability
Western Province and the Sharks have firmly established themselves as this season’s Currie Cup front-runners, and look destined to meet in the final once again. On Saturday, Province powered past Griquas, with Sergeal Petersen again emerging as one of their standout performers. Having finally overcome some injury troubles, Petersen has been in fine form throughout the Currie Cup, and again underlined his ruthless finishing abilities when he scored one of the tries of the season on Saturday. Besides Petersen’s impressive performances that served as a reminder of why he was once knocking loudly on the Bok door, Dan du Preez also made a meaningful impression in the Sharks’ emphatic win over the Golden Lions. In a match played in difficult wet-weather conditions, Du Preez not only scored two tries, but set up a couple of others as he displayed his full range of skills and physicality. As a player who already has four Test caps to his name, it was a timely return to top form.
Kings, Cheetahs make much-needed Pro14 statement
With both the Kings and Cheetahs starting the Pro14 tournament with three successive defeats, it looked sure to be a long season ahead. However, this past weekend’s round of action provided an emphatic response from both South African sides. The Cheetahs were quite outstanding against the more-fancied Ulster on Friday night, with only a late try leaving the hosts to settle for a draw when a victory would have been far more deserved. However, it was then the Kings’ turn to ensure that there would be ample cause for South Africa’s Pro14 contingent to celebrate. The Port Elizabeth-based side raced out to a 31-0 lead against the Glasgow Warriors, before withstanding a late comeback to claim a memorable victory that will serve as a major morale boost for the remainder of the season. The squad looks to be a happy one, and there certainly appears to be encouraging signs that the Kings are heading in the right direction.
Free State’s Currie Cup issue must be addressed
Just two years ago, the Free State Cheetahs were crowned Currie Cup champions in front of a capacity crowd in Bloemfontein as they claimed their first title since 2007, while notching up 10 successive victories. This past Friday, Free State’s winless domestic campaign came to a disappointing end as they slumped to a meek defeat against the Pumas, with the Cheetahs having banked just two log points from six matches as they finished with this season’s wooden spoon. Of course, context is required considering that Free State have had to compete with a vastly understrength side in the Currie Cup as already limited player resources were spread between the domestic team and the ‘first-choice’ Pro14 squad. With these tournaments running concurrently, the Cheetahs have been left between a rock and a hard place, but it’s surely not sustainable for Free State to suffer this sort of humiliation in the once-proud Currie Cup.
Photo: Shaun Roy/Gallo Images