The Free State Cheetahs and the Blue Bulls are the two 2016 Currie Cup Finalists after each won their respective semi-finals on Saturday.
2016 Currie Cup Finalists Decided
Free State Cheetahs 55 Golden Lions 17
Free State Cheetahs – Tries: Sergeal Petersen 3, Neill Jordaan, Ryno Benjamin, Clayton Blommetjies; Conversions: Neil Marais 3 and Fred Zeilinga 2; Penalties: Neil Marais 5
Golden Lions – Tries: Sylvian Mahuza 2 and Ruan Lerm; Conversion: Andries Coetzee
The Cheetahs soundly beat the Golden Lions in their cat-fight in Bloemfontein, to earn the right to host the 2016 Currie Cup final.
It was a dominant performance by the Cheetahs with Sergeal Petersen having a massive game, scoring a hat-trick of tries and showing up everywhere on the field to make tackles and be a pest at the breakdown.
The final score belies the fact that Lions actually enjoyed both a territorial and possession advantage. They were against a team in a rich vein of form and are currently playing the same form of champagne rugby that they have become popular for.
The Lions were never really in the game and faced a Cheetahs side that were very dominant in the tackle area and produced some very effective and clever play. The use of delayed passes to slip the ball behind defenders was impressive, as was the forwards displaying impressive handling skills of their own. Franco Smith’s influence is certainly starting to show itself and is proof that handling skill is not an alien concept in South African Rugby and should be encouraged at all levels.
They will face the Bulls next weekend in the final with the hope of winning their first Currie Cup title since 2007.
News from Bloemfontein is that Lions prop Julian Redelinghuys has suffered what is terms “a broken neck”. All of us at Last Word on Rugby hope that Julian makes a full recovery.
Blue Bulls 36 Western Province 30
Blue Bulls – Tries: Travis Ismaiel, Jason Jenkins, Ivan van Zyl. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (3) Penalties: Schoeman (5)
Western Province – Tries: Nizaam Carr, Werner Kok, Jan de Klerk. Conversions: Robert du Preez (3). Penalties: Robert du Preez (3)
The Blue Bulls beat their traditional foes Western Province, earning the right to face off against the Cheetahs to decide the outcome of the 2016 Currie Cup competition.
The Bulls raced into an early lead, but errors at inopportune times cost them dearly. They conceded two two tries while in possession and butchered a number of tries. Some of the can be attributed to over-eagerness as well as the three week break they had due to them having a bye in the final week of competition, as well as the fact that the semi-finals were pushed back by a week by SARU.
The one incredible statistic coming out of this game is the Western Province tackle count. They had to make 227 tackles through the game, as opposed to the 116 by the Blue Bulls. The 26 they missed was telling compared to the 9 by the Bulls.
The pleasing aspect for Bulls fans will be enterprise they showed on attack. Players such as Jamba Ulengo, Travis Ismaiel and Burger Odendaal in the backline and Arno Botha, Jannes Kirsten and RG Snyman in the forwards showed a dimension in attack that shows promise for the Bulls going forward.
Their trip to Bloemfontein next Saturday might be testing, but only the bravest of betting rugby supporters would bet their house on the result.