The weekend’s Currie Cup results were predictable but one can still safely say that the underdogs very much have their place.
Yet while some will rejoice that “giants” like the Blue Bulls and Lions were pushed all the way by Griquas and the Pumas respectively, there’s a dark cloud hanging over the tournament.
And to understand that, one needs to revisit the top-of-the-table clash between the Sharks and Cheetahs.
Here are the main talking points from the weekend.
The Cheetahs situation doesn’t serve South African rugby in general
Nobody is denying the Cheetahs deserve a shot in Europe’s Pro14, even if it’s going to take time for them to settle.
The problem for the Currie Cup is that it means Free State now field an arguably C-team.
Now the theory is that if the men from Bloemfontein have enough players to participate domestically, then they’ll build depth for the Pro14.
At the moment though, that feels like a long shot.
Instead, it seems as if the Currie Cup’s competitiveness is poorer.
Sharks can’t become complacent
As much as the Cheetahs – after a decent opening 30 minutes – gradually looked more hopeless in Durban, the Sharks didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory.
The scoreline of 45-15 looked comfortable enough for Robert du Preez’s table-toppers but they actually didn’t play all that well.
There’s evidence that their rivals, even if they’re still off-form, are on the up and that means the Durbanites should rather view this as a solid victory that should be built on.
Blue Bulls might as well throw the rookies in at the deep end
Manie Libbok’s spectacular hat-trick in the 44-42 win over Griquas once again illustrated that the Currie Cup might become a development tournament.
The Junior Springbok showed some brilliant attacking touches and it was noticeable that, in general, it was the rookies that impressed the most.
Unlike their senior recruitment, the Bulls still have excellent youth players on their books and you’d fancy them to rather absorb John Mitchell’s new vision than some underperforming veterans.
Experienced heads are fine as long as they contribute.
At the Bulls, precious little of them do.
Lowly Lions might be dark horses
Swys de Bruin’s troops won’t win the Currie Cup but their narrow win over the Pumas (29-28) could be a huge psychological boost.
For weeks the Lions mentor insisted his team was on the verge of a breakthrough and it finally happened.
The men from Ellis Park continue to be hampered by silly mistakes – which are probably due to inexperience – but they actually have a pretty decent core of experienced players.
With Kwagga Smith available again, don’t surprised if the Lions find some shape now that a monkey’s off their back.