Western Province laid down the biggest marker at the weekend as they suddenly look a good bet for Currie Cup glory.
More impressively, it came against a surprisingly poor Lions.
South African rugby can’t be too proud of the events at Loftus, where the Cheetahs and Blue Bulls played embarrassing rugby at times but at least the Pumas provided a highlight over Griquas.
Here are the talking points from the weekend.
Western Province do it retro style…
Everybody nowadays love running rugby.
And on face value, John Dobson’s Streeptruie seemingly dazzled by scoring six tries.
However, the key to their victory was their superb defence.
They made a massive 204 tackles in a game they won 39-3 and showed again that rugby is all about taking your opportunities.
You don’t need the ball to win.
… and the Lions can learn from them
You gotta cycles but they’re always present in sport.
For years now, Lions fans have take for granted the continual evolution of their team and that’s understandable.
Yet there was a time when the men from Ellis Park lacked a bit of balance in their game and had to learn to adapt.
Unfortunately for their fans, this group of players has to learn that skill again.
New head coach Swys de Bruin has mentioned that the Lions will stay true to their brand but they’ve got to implement it better.
It’s unacceptable to have 66% possession and only end up with three points due to poor handling and tackling.’
Cheetahs can’t pull these stunts in Europe
For at least 50 minutes, the Free Staters seemed in control at Loftus.
Their rugby was enterprising before they seemed to lose all concentration.
In fact, it took an 85th minute try from wing Makazole Mapimpi for the Cheetahs to rescue the match.
This is well-known poor habit – they lost many Super Rugby games they should’ve won.
Concentration levels need to sky high if they’re going to turn over a new leaf in Europe.
What one earth does Pine do right?
There’s no doubt the Blue Bulls’ decision-making in the last-gasp loss to the Cheetahs was, patently, shocking.
But one’s perhaps still inclined to forgive them for that because they’re now playing under a new coach with a new philosophy.
The demotion of Nollis Maris is probably justified as is his two deputies.
Yet the Bulls’ glaring problem remains their woeful defence.
And the man who’s had that portfolio – Pine Pienaar – is still part of John Mitchell’s coaching team.
How does that work?
Not once has the Bulls’ marking shown signs of progress under Pienaar.
Is there no-one else?
Hungry Pumas belatedly show their worth
Bigger teams have gone to Kimberley and walked off the field with their tails between their legs.
That’s why the wily Pumas can really hold their heads up high after a brilliant 27-21 win over Griquas.
It was hardly a classic match with both sides making numerous errors but South African rugby, with its constrained resources, needs the Pumas to do well.
If Brent Janse van Rensburg’s men can build from this, local rugby will be boosted.