It was another good weekend of domestic rugby as derby weekend took place in the Gallagher Premiership and the URC continued with more stars returning. Bet Central explores what unfolded.
South African Teams Draw A Blank
It was yet another infuriating weekend if you’re a fan of the South African domestic rugby teams as all 4 were on the losing side against their opponents. On Friday both the Lions and Bulls lost away from home.
The Stormers lost at Thomond Park in a repeat of last year’s final. The Sharks fought valiantly but also fell short at home. The return of the Springbok players who were at the World Cup becomes even more urgent owing to a shaky start to the season for all the sides.
Aphiwe Dyantyi Shows His Fire
Despite the Sharks’ loss, there were some positives to take from the game. Both Lukhanyo Am and Aphelele Fassi showed some good touches, but the player who really showed plenty of fight and heart in the game was Aphiwe Dyantyi.
The 29-year-old has been making steady progress as he looks to find his rhythm and footing back in the game again. With more game time, it’s likely he may get close to his best, the Sharks just need to find more consistency as a team.
Zebre Got Another Credible Result
Cardiff Rugby along with the Sharks are hardly a good barometer to measure your progress with both teams struggling for form, but the previously winless Zebre were able to avoid defeat again as they drew with Cardiff.
Could this be the catalyst for a turnaround in fortunes? That remains to be seen as much tougher tasks lay ahead for the Italian side. Fabio Roselli’s sides will take a lot from these 2 games though.
Ollie Lawrence Thrives Under Johann van Graan’s Tutelage
He may have played off the bench for the majority of the World Cup for England, but Ollie Lawrence’s upturn in form under South African coach Johann van Graan at Bath will have Steve Borthwick’s attention.
Lawrence was outstanding in a man-of-the-match effort against Bristol Bears whom they edged 20-19 at the Rec. The 24-year-old centre will be looking to build on this form as his national coach focuses on the 6 Nations in just over 2 months’ time.
Handre Pollard Stars For Tigers In Derby Weekend Win
It was the 1st time Leo Cullen entrusted Dan Sheehan with the captaincy in the URC and the Ireland hooker repaid his faith in full of a dazzling performance. Leinster are still not at full strength, but they were still too good for the Dragons.
Dan Sheehan was only starting to find his feet after an injury when Ireland crashed out of the World Cup so Cullen will be pleased to see he can still produce the kind of performance he produced on Sunday.