Pumas scrumhalf Chriswill September personifies the surprising weekend that was in the Currie Cup, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
The Pumas served up a surprise to kick-start the round as they pulled off a 20-10 upset win over the Sharks at Kings Park on Friday afternoon. A near-upset followed at Ellis Park, where the Cheetahs had to claw their way out of a hole to clinch a 35-26 bonus-point win over a spirited Lions side.
The Bulls had it their way in the first half of their clash against Griquas at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, but they, too, were made to work hard after the break. In the end, the defending champions were able to withstand the visitors’ fightback to secure a 48-38 bonus-point victory.
September is one of three Pumas in our Currie Cup Team of the Week and considering the underdog theme that emerged, it’s only fitting that we award him the Player of the Week honours.
The log-leading Bulls boast five representatives, three Cheetahs made the cut while a pair of Lions and Griquas standouts complete our side.
15: Devon Williams (Pumas)
A key figure in the Lowvelders’ Shark Tank siege, scoring a brace, making a try-saving tackle on Cameron Wright, and using his prodigious left boot to good effect.
14: Stravino Jacobs (Bulls)
Gave a dazzling demonstration of his class when he hot-stepped past a pair of Peacock Blues to score a cracker in the corner inside the first five minutes and doubled up before the half-time break.
13: Sango Xamlashe (Griquas)
Excellent on the ball. Scored a special try – nothing flashy, just sheer determination as he pumped his legs in contact to will his way over from about five metres out.
12: Harold Vorster (Bulls)
A complete, classy display. Showed his skill, smarts and seniority when the Bulls were down to 13 as he produced a brilliant 50:22 and crashed over from the ensuing lineout. A rock on defence, making 15 tackles.
11: Madosh Tambwe (Bulls)
Had “a dream game” as Owen Nkumane put it on commentary. Outstanding on both sides of the ball. Bit of brilliance to create a try for Canan Moodie, saved a try with a timely intercept and won a breakdown penalty.
10: Chris Smith (Bulls)
Facilitated the fast-paced assault and kept Griquas guessing with an array of skills, including a classy chip for Vorster to take out of the air. Scored 13 points with the boot and made a try-saving intervention.
9: Chriswill September (Pumas) – Player Of The Week
Both of the Pumas’ tries were down to their scrumhalf’s vision as he scanned the field and beat clusters of defenders with intelligent long balls. Darted into a gap, dinked a clever rolling touch-finder into the corner and combined seamlessly with Thinus de Beer in a Man of the Match performance.
8: Willie Engelbrecht (Pumas)
Inspired his troops by leading by example, particularly in terms of physicality. The veteran hard man got stuck into the Sharks, smashed them at every turn, and was a bruising ball-carrier.
7: Hanru Sirgel (Griquas)
The main driving force behind Griquas’ second-half fightback. Unrivalled desire, superhuman work rate and powered his way over for a brace of tries. The type of performance that could land him a contract with a bigger team.
6: Lindo Ncusane (Lions)
A late addition to the starting line-up following Emmanuel Tshituka’s withdrawal and grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Popped up everywhere, scored a try just before half-time and created a try-scoring opportunity with a textbook jackal.
5: Victor Sekekete (Cheetahs)
A towering performance by the Cheetahs’ lineout general, running the set-piece and directing the driving maul like clockwork. Cleverly milked the penalty that put the visitors in the lead in the 69th minute, acrobatic at the restarts, and threw a quality long pass to Andisa Ntsila.
4: Aidon Davis (Cheetahs)
The former back-rower offered the Free Staters the best of both worlds – the work rate of a loose forward and the muscle and aggression of a No.4 lock. Ran over a couple of defenders, won a breakdown penalty, and applied great pressure on the Lions’ lineout to earn the Man of the Match award.
3: Robert Hunt (Bulls)
A strong overall outing. Owned the opposition in the scrums and got through a good amount of work in general play. Almost got a five-pointer but was unable to ground the ball amidst a sea of bodies.
2: Marnus van der Merwe (Cheetahs)
Brought passion, power, and precision to the table. His accurate lineout throwing was instrumental in the Cheetahs launching from their lineout and scoring two maul tries while he was on the park, one of which he dotted down himself, while he also won a penalty on the deck.
1: JP Smith (Lions)
Worth his weight in gold. The veteran thoroughly impressed with his mobility and skill, breaking the line and throwing an audacious one-handed offload any centre would be proud of. Power in abundance, both when he hit the ball up and at scrum time, where he earned the Lions three points in the 56th minute.