Currie Cup gets spicier
Bulls charge, Lions roar and Sharks feast
August 2, 2004

The Blue Bulls and Lions both edged home narrowly as the Currie Cup race heated up at the weekend.

It required a penalty from over the halfway line by flyhalf Derick Hougaard to see the Blue Bulls home 31-30 over Free State at Loftus. In Kimberley, the Lions and Griquas were engaged in an engaging battle, with former Springbok No.10 Andre Pretorius eventually providing the impetus for the 33-31 victory.

The Sharks feasted on Western Province in Durban, winning 29-18, while the Pumas ousted the Eagles 37-25.

The Pumas and Eagles got the exciting weekend under way on Friday, and it was the home side's forwards that provided the platform for the victory.

Christo Bezuidenhout was in powerful form in the scrums and experienced flyhalf Marius Goosen was then able to control the game.

He scored 17 points through a try, three conversions and two penalties. Wing Giscard Pieters scored a brace of tries.

In Pretoria, Hougaar's kick rescued the Currie Cup champions in a match where they were out-scored by four tries to three.

It was an exciting match between the two top teams in the competition thus far.

Bulls centre Frikkie Welsh scored two of his side's tries, while Hougaard converted two and added four penalties.

Izak Job, Hendro Scholtz, Eddie Fredericks and Juan Smith all touched down for Free State, but they were made to pay for their indiscretions by Hougaard.

Pretorius' return to action for the Lions was a pleasing one as he can still play a role in Springbok rugby if he can improve his tactical kicking.

The Lions made their territorial and home advantage count early inn the first half and raced into a 17-0 lead after tries by centre Bryan Habana and wing John Daniels.

Griquas, however, claws their way back and by halftime were 21-17 up after tries by prop Rudi du Randt, wing Chumani Booi and flank Gareth Krause.

Pretorius' introduction after Nel Fourie had to depart due to a blow to the head was an important development and the Lions actually led 33-24, only for Griquas flyhalf Braam van Straaten to score under the posts and convert at the end. It was too little, too late.

In Durban, centre Trevor Halstead scored two tries in the Sharks' win over WP, who will be disappointed after not earning as much as a bonus point, despite the match being closer than the scoreline suggests.

It was a thriller until centre Adrian Jacobs slipped through the WP defence six minutes from time to score the knockout blow.

For WP, wing Egon Seconds finished off a delightful try, but took some shine off by earning a yellow card.

Despite some impressive flurries by WP, the home side deserved their win as they scored four tries to two and defended strongly.

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