There were plenty of taking points from around the rugby world this past weekend. Shaun Goosen digests everything below.
Currie Cup second-round wins for Bulls, Griquas
The Bulls beat the Pumas 32-27 in a highly competitive clash at Loftus Versfeld on Friday. Jake White’s men were coming off the back of their disappointing showing in the Rainbow Cup final as well as a first-round Currie Cup loss to Western Province, and desperately required a pick-me-up. This they finally managed but not after toiling for most of the encounter, with Jimmy Stonehouse’s Pumas as motivated as ever. The Mpumalanga men look set to again challenge the big boys this season.
Meanwhile, the Griquas claimed a comfortable 31-10 bonus-point win over the Cheetahs at Tafel Lager Park on Saturday. After a close contest initially, the home side went up a gear in the final quarter and eventually managed to win with ease against a Cheetahs team that had 13-debutants in their matchday squad. The Free Staters will need to bounce back quickly with the Bulls travelling to Bloemfontein on Wednesday.
British & Irish Lions win over Japan marred by injury crisis
The British & Irish Lions beat Japan 28-10 at Murrayfield on Saturday but the result was overshadowed by tour-ending first-half injuries to skipper Alun Wyn Jones and flanker Justin Tipuric. Neither player lasted long on the pitch, with Warren Gatland subsequently calling up Welsh duo Adam Beard and Josh Navidi as squad replacements post-match, and Connor Murray taking over the captaincy. The injuries are serious and will have a big impact on the Lions after their arrival in South Africa.
The four Lions tries were scored by Josh Adams, Duhan van der Merwe, Robbie Henshaw and Tadhg Beirne, while Kazuki Himeno got over the whitewash for Japan. Aside from the injuries, Gatland will at least be pleased his side got some minutes under the belt ahead of their upcoming clash with the Emirates Lions on Saturday.
Quins crowned Premiership champions after thrilling final
Harlequins beat defending champions Exeter Chiefs 40-38 at Twickenham on Saturday to earn a first Premiership title since the 2011-12 season. The match was a see-saw affair with both sides certainly up for it, but a late Louis Lynagh brace ended the Chiefs’ hopes of defending their title, despite a converted Stuart Hogg score with a minute to go.
Quins have been called the unlikeliest of English champions after a topsy-turvy campaign that saw the unexpected departure of director of rugby, Paul Gustard, in January and some wayward mid-season form. Yet they battled on, with the likes of Alex Dombrandt, Marcus Smith, Joe Marler, Tyrone Greene, Lynagh and captain Stephan Lewies simply phenomenal.