Five lessons from the 10th round of the Currie Cup, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.
Handré Pollard can spark the Bulls' backs
The Springbok backline posed far more of an attacking threat when Pollard replaced Morné Steyn at flyhalf during the Rugby Championship, and he made a similar impact for the Blue Bulls on Saturday night after replacing Jacques-Louis Potgieter in the 62nd minute of their match against Griquas. The 20-year-old, who is available to play in the Currie Cup because he doesn't have a Bok contract, gave direction to a backline that had played so poorly in the first half that SuperSport pundit Nick Mallett said they could face a civil suit for driving people to drink. By the end of the game, many Bulls fans were drinking, but it was to celebrate a much better second-half performance and six tries, one of which Pollard scored after stepping past three defenders. With him in the No 10 jersey, the Bulls have a real chance of beating Western Province at Newlands in the semi-finals.
The Bulls need to get the ball to Bjorn Basson
Basson missed a large chunk of the Currie Cup with an ankle injury, before returning to the Blue Bulls' starting line-up in mid-September. At that stage of the season, it looked as though the Bulls might not make the play-offs, but three wins in their next four matches – and Pumas and Cheetahs' defeats this past weekend – saw them qualify before running out for their final league fixture against Griquas. Basson has played his part in the Bulls' revival, no more so than on Saturday night, when he scored a hat-trick that took him to 50 Currie Cup career tries and won him the Match of the Match award. Basson may have fallen out of favour with the Boks, but he remains lethal at this level, and the Bulls would do well to get the ball to him more often.
Clayton Blommetjies and Sarel Pretorius need to defend as well as they attack
The Cheetahs fullback and scrumhalf are dangerous with ball in hand, but their defence let them down on Saturday, as their team were smashed 47-7 by the Golden Lions at Ellis Park. Derick Minnie stampeded over Blommetjies during a run that resulted in the Lions' second try, while Ruan Combrinck went straight round the fullback – after fooling Pretorius with a dummy – to make it 22-0. The visitors were never going to come back from that poor start. Blommetjies ended up making just one tackle and missing three on Saturday, while Pretorius's two missed tackles took his tally for the season to 24, the fourth most in the tournament.
Taking charge of the lineout can change the course of a match
The Sharks trailed a second-string Western Province side 20-11 at half-time in Cape Town, but got back into the game thanks largely to their lineout dominance. The inexperienced WP lineout was a shambles in the second half, with four lost throw-ins allowing the visitors' forwards to take charge and build momentum. However, WP won't be too concerned, as their youngsters would have learned from the experience and their first-choice pack will return for the semi-final against the Blue Bulls.
The Lions have two quality tightheads
Ruan Dreyer has made the most of his opportunity to start at tighthead prop for the Golden Lions in the absence of the injured Julian Redelinghuys. The 24-year-old smashed Caylib Oosthuizen at scrum time in the first half of Saturday's match at Ellis Park, which saw the Free State Cheetahs loosehead substituted just before the break. With a dearth of quality tightheads in South Africa, Dreyer and Redelinghuys (when fit) both deserve a Springbok look-in.
Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images