One's got to wonder just what the point is of Free State playing in the Currie Cup competition?
They’re a union with a relatively small, and weakened, player base – after being relegated from Super Rugby last year – and now have to compete in two separate competitions – the Currie Cup and the Pro14. It’s not right and it’s not fair.
And that small player pool was exposed for its inferiority on Saturday afternoon when an equally young, but far more experienced Lions side smashed the visitors in a round four contest, ending the Free Staters’ run in the Currie Cup.
With four defeats and no wins, and just two games to play, Daan Human’s side won’t feature in the playoffs.
The Lions though are well on their way to playing in the semi-finals. They’re three from three and with their quality back-up will now surely be the favourites to lift the title in a few weeks’ time.
Ivan van Rooyen’s team hardly had to get out of second gear to bag the five log points. They dominated every area of the game and at times toyed with the men from Bloemfontein. Their first half showing was particularly impressive, with the pack laying an excellent foundation and the backs dazzling with their pace, running lines and passing.
Flyhalf Shaun Reynolds led the way with two tries and some pin-point passing and kicking, but not far behind were the likes of Howard Mnisi, Lionel Mapoe and Sylvian Mahuza, who also grabbed a brace of tries.
Rhyno Herbst and Marvin Orie were powerhouses up front, while Len Massyn also shone.
At 33-0 up at the break it seemed a done deal that the Lions would run away with the score, but credit must go to the Cheetahs who found some form in the second half and actually played some sparkling rugby. They hung onto the ball, spread it wide and got their rewards, with Louis Fouche and Rudy Paige scoring tries, but why they didn’t produce the same type of rugby in the first 40 only they will know.
But, perhaps the Lions also went to sleep a bit in the second half; the win all but secured at half-time.
Van Rooyen though won’t be happy his team lost the plot somewhat in the latter stages and ensuring the Lions go the full 80 minutes in the coming weeks will be top priority for the coaching team.
They did finish strongly though with Wandisile Simelane – on for the injured Madosh Tambwe –injecting some spark into the backs, and it resulted in Mnisi getting a deserved try, and then late on Hacjivah Dayimani also crossed the whitewash.
Lions (33) 47
Tries: Mahuza (2), Reynolds (2), Orie, Mnisi, Dayimani; Conversions: Reynolds (6); Penalties:
Free State (00) 14
Tries: Fouche, Paige; Conversions: Fouche (2); Penalties:@jacq_west