South Africa's big guns miss out on Currie Cup semifinals for the first time in 20 years
Not seeing Western Province and Blue Bulls’ names in the Currie Cup semifinals fixture list is a rare occasion.
For years the Currie Cup has been dominated by the duo. However, this year will be the first since 1999 that both teams will not feature in the semifinals.
Western Province and Blue Bulls are the most successful Currie Cup teams in history with the Cape side boasting 34 titles in their cabinet while their Northern rivals have 23.
The Blue Bulls have the best percentage record when it comes to winning semifinals, while Western Province are second best.
However, the class of 2019 has failed to add to that impressive records.
Pote Human’s Blue Bulls concluded the season in sixth place – one point clear of the bottom of log Pumas. The Pretoria side managed to secure just two wins for their 10 log points.
Human’s charges started their campaign with a defeat to the Western Province and they just struggled to build momentum.
During their two wins over Golden Lions and Pumas they showed signs of what they are capable off. However, their lack of discipline throughout the season and in Saturday’s 40-48 defeat to Sharks just nullified their attacking threat.
For the second week in row, the Blue Bulls were forced to play with 14 men after centre Johnny Kotze was red-carded for a high tackle in the 38th minute.
“The last two games were very disappointing in terms of discipline,” Human said, adding: “It was a tough one on Johnny but it was around the neck, so it’s a red card.
“The good thing is we scored four tries with 14 men which showed that the guys really wanted to do well, unfortunately, we also conceded tries.
“Having said that discipline is certainly the big factor and we have to address during the off season,”
For Western Province, it is a season to forget.
John Dobson’s side, who played in the 2018 Final, came agonisingly close to claiming a semifinal spot. However, a defeat to the Free State Cheetahs combined with the Sharks’ win over the Blue Bulls halted all their dreams.
Even though they were boosted with the return of Damian Willemse, Dillyn Leyds, Wilco Louw and Scarra Ntubeni, Province failed to combat the Cheetahs’ robust onslaught.
The Cape Town side had a comfortable 33-12 lead at one point but then Cheetahs captain Tian Meyer scored a try which started a phenomenal comeback.
In the end, Province suffered a 33-38 defeat and ended the season in fifth place with 14 log points.
“The defeat is certainly close to a career low-point,” WP captain Chris Van Zyl said after the match.
“As good as the first half was, we weren’t clinical enough particularly with our exit strategy. I think there were two exits that they exploited.”
Commenting on the team’s overall season, Dobson revealed a whole list of what needs to be rectified.
“Against the Cheetahs it was the exits. However, the evolution of our kicking game at the Union is a challenge. While I also think we should get our mauling culture like it used to be.”
He added: “It has been a challenging year for the Union, but we must take responsibility for what happens on the field.”
Blue Bulls (a.k.a. Northern Transvaal): 20 semifinals – won 15
Western Province: 22 semifinals – won 16
Golden Lions (a.k.a. Transvaal and Gauteng Lions): 19 semifinals – won 9
Sharks (a.k.a. Natal): 19 semifinals – won 10
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