The Currie Cup started on Friday night when the iCollege Pumas hosted the Tafel Lager Griquas in Nelspruit. The following game saw the Toyota Free State Cheetahs take on the Vodacom Bulls in Bloemfontein. This year’s competition will allow the use of rolling substitutions. This was trialed earlier in the year during the South African Provincial Rugby Challenge tournament.
Rolling Subs Law
The rolling substitutions must not exceed twelve interchanges, while at least four of those have to be used for the front row exclusively. Teams that cause an uncontested scrum situation will also be forced to play with only fourteen players for the remainder of the match. The decision was taken with player welfare and safety in mind and is now included in the Currie Cup format.
iCollege Pumas Strong Currie Cup Start
The iCollege Pumas defeated the Tafel Lager Griquas with a strong start to their Currie Cup campaign. The game was played in front of a small crowd, but that did not stop any of the action on the pitch. After two penalties were converted by Pumas debutant fly half, Chris Smith, the first try was scored by Hennie Skorbinski. He crashed over the line after the Pumas’ forwards carried up the ball through multiple phases managing to weaken the Griquas Defense enough to create adequate gaps.
The teams went into the sheds with Griquas trailing by only six points after AJ Coertzen ran in a try for the visitors.
The second half saw the Pumas stamp down their dominance, retaining the possession while softening up the Griquas’ defense with their forwards. The loose forward trio combined well, managing to slow down and compete for the ball at each ruck. Marnus Schoeman kept the defenders busy with powerful runs through the middle, which allowed the backs to attack from wide outside. During one try, the flanker (who played off the bench for the Lions’ during the Super Rugby competition) was already consoling a Griquas player before a chargedown try by Chris Smith was even scored.
Although the Griquas surged in the final quarter of the game, the end was ruined for spectators after a lengthy decision from the TMO resulted in a scrum. That ended the game at 42-19 for the hosts, earning them a bonus point on the log while denying the Griquas any points.
Tries: Marnus Schoeman, Stefan Ungerer, Chris Smith, Neil Maritz, Hennie Skorbinski
Conversions: Chris Smith (4)
Penalty Goals: Chris Smith (3)
Tries: Conway Pretorius, Christiaan Meyer, AJ Coertzen
Conversions: George Whitehead (2)
Toyota Free State Cheetahs fall short against Vodacom Bulls
The Vodacom Bulls traveled to Bloemfontein to take on the Toyota Cheetahs. A short delay to the kickoff was caused by a wardrobe malfunction. The Bulls’ new kit is completely white at the back, which meant the teams were deemed sufficiently indistinguishable for the referee to send the Cheetahs back into the change rooms to swap jerseys.
When the kickoff finally came, the Cheetahs started strong. Jo Dweba, the Cheetahs’ powerful hooker, scored the first try after running over two defenders. He had a brilliant first half before being substituted in the 51st minute. Dweba looks like he is taking lessons from the Springbok hooker, Malcolm Marx.
Rudy Paige, the ex-Bulls scrumhalf, had a rare opportunity to exact revenge on the team that snubbed him during the Super Rugby tournament. He was released by the Bulls without getting any game time and ended up joining the Cheetahs half-way through the season. Unfortunately it wasn’t his night. He didn’t manage to control the game well and by the last quarter of the match it was clear the Bulls were the dominant side.
Mannie Libbok however, the Bulls fly half, had a great night with the boot. He corrected himself after an early penalty was kicked over the dead-ball line. Managing to break the line regularly, he also found space behind the Cheetah back-line and put runners into gaps with his precision passes. Earning him the Man of the Match title.
Cheetahs Discipline cost them the Game
The Cheetahs were penalized frequently, even copping a penalty try and yellow card for cynical play. The Bulls closed out the game when Divan Rossouw scored the last try, leaving the scoreboard at 12-34. The Bulls coming away with a bonus point victory while the Cheetahs missed out on any log points.
— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) August 17, 2018
Tries: Joseph Dweba, Shaun Venter
Conversions: Tiaan Schoeman
Tries: Manie Libbok, Jade Stighling, Divan Rossouw
Conversions: Manie Libbok (3)
Penalty Goals: Manie Libbok (2)