Lions send out Currie Cup warning in victory over Griquas

2011-07-25 00:00

THE Lions joined the battered Sharks at the top of the Currie Cup log after making an emphatic statement against Griquas in Kimberley at the weekend.

While Sharks coach John Plumtree was counting the wounded after the bruising Friday night win over the Pumas in Nelspruit, the Lions’ predominantly Super Rugby squad was sounding a Currie Cup warning by running in eight tries to thump Griquas 49-11 in Kimberley.

In Saturday’s other game, one of two distinct halves, the Blue Bulls recovered superbly from a 17-6 deficit at the break to edge the Free State Cheetahs 33-30 in Bloemfontein.

The Sharks, level on nine points with the Lions on top of the log, now face the organised Cheetahs in Durban on Saturday and Plumtree has his share of concerns after his team just survived the Nelspruit test.

“It was really tough Currie Cup match,” he said after returning to the calm of Durban. “They don’t come much tougher than that. The Pumas were very physical and we got exactly what we expected from them.”

Plumtree praised the efforts and character of his players “in hanging in there and getting the win”.

“If the Pumas play to that potential every week, they will beat some sides in this competition. But they will be disappointed that they didn’t get the result. They were really up for it and wanted to beat us and it was exceptionally tough.”

Plumtree admitted the Sharks had not played well. “We weren’t accurate enough in many areas. Our lineout and scrum didn’t function and our attack was poor at times. The defence was pretty good, but it was a mixture of things and we’ll look at the video for a better assessment.

“We turned over too much possession and they dominated territory in the second half, which put us under pressure. We have a fair bit of work to do still.”

Plumtree said the Sharks had suffered a series of injuries. Flyhalf Frederic Michalak, who booted the winning conversion, suffered a hamstring twinge, said Plumtree.

“We are not sure how bad it is. Marcell Coetzee came on and off for blood three times and then broke his nose. There were a few stitches and Louis Ludik got a tooth through the chin and got kicked in the head, so he’s a bit sore.”

Centre Marius Joubert came off late in the game after going over on his ankle, said Plumtree, and the injury has still to be assessed.

“The Cheetahs are going to be another very tough test and we will have to lift our performance to another level if we want to win this weekend,” said the Sharks coach.

The Cheetahs, another largely Super rugby team, were impressive and organised in building up a 17-6 first half lead over the Blue Bulls at Loftus. But the hosts, beaten by the Sharks in the first round, lifted themselves in the second session, scoring three tries to one — for a narrow three-point lead — though they were again under severe pressure in the closing minutes.

The Cheetahs’ Hennie Daniller and prop Marcel van der Merwe scored first half tries for the Cheetahs — Francois Uys added a third after the break — while wings Gerhard van den Heever, Akona Ndungane and Derrick Kuhn crossed for the Bulls in their revival.

Griquas had high hopes of toppling the Lions in Kimberley, but visiting scrumhalf Jano Vermaak immediately took the game away from them with a hat-trick in the first 25 minutes. The Lions were ahead 36-6 at the break and were never threatened by a Griquas team that simply never pitched up on the day, and lost 49-11.

Saturday’s scores and scorers:

Blue Bulls 33: Tries: Gerhard van den Heever, Derick Kuhn, Akona Ndungane. Conversions: Francois Brummer (3). Penalties: Brummer (4). Free State Cheetahs 30: Tries: Hennie Daniller, Marcel van der Merwe, Francois Uys. Conversions: Sias Ebersohn (3). Penalties: Ebersohn (3).

Griquas 11: Try: Jonathan Mokuena. Penalties: Monty Dumond (2). Lions 49: Tries: Jano Vermaak (3), Burton Francis, Lionel Mapoe (2), Deon van Rensburg, Waylon Murray

Conversions: Francis (3). Penalty: Francis:

Friday night’s results (home team first):

Pumas 22 Sharks 23

Leopards 9 Western Province 47

Currie Cup Log standings after two rounds:

Sharks 9; Lions 9; WP 7; Free State 6; Blue Bulls 4; Pumas 2; Griquas 2; Leopards 0.

This weekend’s fixtures (home team first):

Friday:

Pumas vs Griquas (7.00 pm).

Saturday:

Sharks vs Cheetahs (3.00 pm)

Lions vs Leopards (5.00 pm)

WP vs Bulls (5.05 pm).

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