Cape Town — The Cheetahs and Pumas flexed their muscles once more, while the Sharks pulled off the big upset of round 10 in the Currie Cup on Saturday.
There was drama at a rainy Free Stadium in Bloemfontein, where Western Province looked well on course to shock the home side.
The Capetonians were good value in the first half and ran up a 21-14 half-time lead, courtesy of tries by Damian Markus, Jarrod Taylor and Luke Burger, while fullback Clayton Blommetjies slotted all three conversions.
In response, the Cheetahs produced two touchdowns of their own through Reinhardt Fortuin and Ruan Pienaar, which were converted by the veteran scrumhalf.
It looked like WP were well on their way to gaining revenge for their 26-17 home defeat to the Cheetahs last month, but in typical fashion, Free State struck back in the second half with a long-range effort from reserve flank Daniel Maartens, and Pienaar’s two-pointer levelled the scores with over half-an-hour to go.
But then two WP yellow cards, to hooker Chad Solomons and lock Adré Smith — as well as two missed Blommetjies penalties — gave the Cheetahs a significant advantage in the closing stages, and they eventually got the winning touchdown in the 76th minute via wing Munier Hartzenberg, after an initial line-out drive, to secure a 26-21 bonus-point victory.
In Pretoria, not long after the Bulls were dispatched 33-14 by the Stormers in the URC quarter-final, the Blue Bulls Currie Cup side suffered a 41-27 loss to the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld.
The Bulls are languishing in seventh position on the log with just 17 points, and are in danger of not qualifying for the semi-finals, with the fourth-placed Griquas on 23 points, with five round-robin matches to go.
The Sharks hit back after two early Morné Steyn penalties with tries by hooker Dan Jooste and prop Khwezi Mona, and despite fullback Juan Mostert’s effort saw the Bulls trail by just two points at 15-13, the Durban side took control with Jooste’s second touchdown to set up a 22-13 half-time advantage.
The knockout blow came early in the second half via centre Murray Koster’s intercept try.
In an early-afternoon match at the Nelspruit Rugby Club in Mbombela, defending champions the Pumas ran up a 31-12 half-time lead to set up a 45-25 win over the Griffons.
Openside flank André Fouché grabbed two of the seven tries as the Mpumalanga side maintained their chase for top spot, where they trail the Cheetahs by just two points.
Currie Cup Results
Friday: Griquas 25-21 Lions
Saturday: Pumas 45-25 Griffons, Cheetahs 26-21 Western Province, Blue Bulls 27-41 Sharks
Currie Cup Log
1 Cheetahs Played 9 Won 7 Lost 2 Points 36
2 Pumas P9 W7 L2 Pts 34
3 Sharks P9 W6 L3 Pts 28
4 Griquas P9 W5 L4 Pts 23
5 Western Province P9 W4 L5 Pts 22
6 Lions P9 W3 L6 Pts 20
7 Blue Bulls P9 W3 L6 Pts 17
8 Griffons P9 W1 L8 Pts 8