What we learned from the latest round of the Currie Cup and Pro14, according to CRAIG LEWIS.
Sergeal Petersen sends out reminder of his ability
The former Cheetahs wing has been beset by injury over the past year, and missed the entire Super Rugby campaign after making the move to the Stormers. Having finally worked his way back to fitness, Petersen earned a long overdue start for Western Province in Friday’s Currie Cup clash against the Pumas, and certainly made it count. The 24-year-old displayed an immense work rate as he produced an omnipresent performance that included a brace of well-taken tries, while he also set up a couple more with some superb skill. For a relatively diminutive man, Petersen was particularly impressive under the high ball, with his classy all-round performance providing a reminder of just why he was once knocking loudly on the Springbok door.
Western Province lay down Currie Cup marker
In this congested, one-round Currie Cup format, there is virtually no room to slip up as the competition already heads towards the halfway stage. As defending champions, Province would have come into the campaign with a target on their back, but they’ve started their title defence with the sort of fluency that will send out warning signs to the rest of their domestic opposition. Besides claiming a convincing win over the Cheetahs in atrocious wet-weather conditions for their season-opener at Newlands, Province again turned on the style to run in eight tries and 57 points in a thrashing of the Pumas on Friday night. The Pumas have often proven to be difficult customers on their home ground, but WP had little trouble in blowing them off the park early on. Province will now lose the services of Springboks Damian de Allende, Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Wilco Louw, but there is no doubt that they look to have the strength to go all the way once again this year.
Cheetahs, Kings face reality check
Ever since the conclusion of last season’s Pro14 competition, administrators have sought to insist that the inclusion of the Cheetahs and Kings has been a massive success. The Cheetahs certainly impressed as they progressed to the playoffs in their debut season, although the Kings faced a baptism of fire as they managed just a solitary victory. Just recently, though, there was a surge in positivity around the Kings’ prospects after the announcement of a new sponsor and ownership agreement for the Eastern Cape outfit. Yet both teams were starkly reminded of just how difficult it is to face seasoned, settled northern hemisphere teams away from home, with Munster thrashing the Cheetahs 38-0, while the Kings went down 34-16 against the generally unheralded Zebre. Of course, it can’t be forgotten that the Cheetahs suffered heavy defeats in their first couple of away games last season, but the opening round of action this weekend has certainly provided an early reality check for South Africa’s Pro14 participants.
Photo: Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images