Two big Currie Cup semifinals are on the cards this coming weekend as the Cheetahs take on the Pumas in Bloemfontein and the Bulls host the Griquas in Pretoria, with dates and kickoff times to be confirmed.
The final placings in the competition were confirmed over the weekend as the Cheetahs’ 35-5 win over the Bulls saw them claim top spot on the log, while the Griquas’ 45-44 win over the Pumas clinched third place for them.
The other Currie Cup match on the weekend saw Western Province end their campaign on a high with a 28-21 win over the Sharks to end their hopes of reaching the knockouts.
The Cheetahs had suffered their first two defeats of the competition, against the Griquas and Pumas, in their two matches leading up to the Bulls game, meaning they needed a bonus point win to secure top spot, which they did thanks to a strong first half performance.
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“It (Bulls game) was a lot better. The last two weeks were tough. So it was good to put up a better performance this time. I think the Bulls have done incredibly well to have a team in the URC final and the semifinals of the Currie Cup. They have a great squad,” said Cheetahs captain Ruan Pienaar.
“It was a tough game, but we are happy to get the win. I thought the boys showed a good reaction. We would have liked to have had a more clinical second half but we are happy with the win and now have a tough semifinal waiting for us next week.
The Cheetahs were edged by the Pumas 29-28 at home just over a week ago and will need to put in an improved performance if they want to reach the Currie Cup final.
“Anyone who watched the Griquas and Pumas game saw a great game. Both teams play an exciting brand of rugby and the Pumas have a good team. So we have to prepare well this week, put our plans in place and hopefully execute a bit better this time around,” admitted Pienaar.
The Bulls will need to bounce back from the disappointing loss against the Cheetahs as they will need to be at the top of their game to beat a strong Griquas team who have been in great form in recent times.
The Bulls might receive a few URC reinforcements for the match as well, with their main team playing the Stormers in the final in Cape Town, a few players will be available from their extended touring squad.
“I think this was a disappointing performance from our side. Discipline let us down in the first half. We had to stop mauls and the Cheetahs have a very good maul. So we will take a lot out of this game going into the semis and learn a lot from it,” said Bulls captain Muller Uys.
“The Griquas are a quality side, they like to run with the ball and have a good maul. So we need to step up next Saturday and there is a lot for us to work on this week.”