On a weekend where the Sharks showed their ability to adapt to all conditions – and confirm their are Currie Cup favourites – it was interesting that the Free State Cheetahs suddenly sprung back into contention.
It seems unlikely that they’ll defend their title but Friday’s vital win over the Pumas means they might not even have to worry about a place in the playoffs anymore.
Some observers felt they were too watered down by Pro14 commitments that they’d miss out on the last four.
That’s now on the table again.
Here are the main talking points from the past weekend.
Sharks are undoubtedly the team to beat
The best side in any given competition isn’t always the one that plays the most attractive rugby.
Playing your best rugby many times simply means getting the job done in different contexts.
Robert du Preez, the Sharks coach, was rightly pleased with his side after they beat the Blue Bulls 18-5 in a Durban downpour.
To gain such a comprehensive win in bad conditions is now small feat.
“We obviously knew it was going to rain and we were prepared for it and I thought we executed the game plan sufficiently, albeit there were still some missed opportunities,” said Du Preez.
“I was very pleased with how we won the forward battle, especially at scrum time. I thought we were a bit unlucky not to get more reward from our dominant scrum.”
Mitchell shares some wisdom on gifted Curwin
He’s still raw but time and again 20-year-old Curwin Bosch shows why the Springboks are actually eager to get him to play international rugby.
The Junior Springbok dictated play well in the Durban rain and seems to have a very good sense for tactical kicking.
But Blue Bulls director of rugby, John Mitchell, hopes local coaches can contain their excitement.
“He certainly has got the ability. His kicking skillset is very good, he can run on front-foot ball, but his defence is probably an area where he will have to grow significantly,” said Mitchell.
“I still think he is a little bit young – a little bit light for Test rugby. I think we should nurture him and get him better before putting him to the slaughter.”
Who’s laughing now at the Cheetahs?
About a week ago, some people were convinced the Free Staters were going to crash after a fine start to their campaign.
And they were justified.
The Cheetahs suffered comprehensive losses as their depth was exposed following their stars’ call-ups to the Pro14 squad.
But Friday’s nail-biting 33-32 win over the Pumas showed there’s still potential in the group.
The best part of that is that if they can sneak into the semis, they might have those missing stars back again for the playoffs as the Pro14 takes a break.
It’s an interesting prospect.