Take a look at four talking points from this past weekend’s sporting action.
There were plenty of talking points from this past weekend’s sporting action, with Bafana and France both being upstaged in their World Cup Qualifiers by ‘lesser’ opposition.
Locally, the Sharks took control of the Currie Cup with an emphatic win over Free State while the Cheetahs and the Kings were both smashed in their opening Pro 14 fixtures.
Bafana Bafana Slip Up in Cape Verde
Stuart Baxter’s charges missed a golden opportunity to take control of Group D in the CAF section of the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers as they were downed 2-1 by the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde. The defeat proved a bitter pill to swallow as Senegal held Burkina Faso to a 0-0 draw – the result all South African fans would have been dreaming for had Bafana managed to claim three vital points against the tiny island nation.
Things got off the a decent start for Baxter’s men as Tokelo Rantie raced onto a pass / clearance by Bongani Zungu before slotting past the ‘keeper. Despite taking the lead, Bafana spent much of the match on the back foot before eventually drawing level. The goal came following some calamitous defending which saw Nuno Rocha fire the ball into the back of the net via a deflection.
The hosts would take the lead seven minutes later as Dean Furman hung out a leg in the box, bringing down Ryan Mendes. Rocha stepped up and converted despite Ronwen Williams getting a decent hand to the ball.
The wheels really came off in in the 66th minute as Erick Mathoho was sent off for a stupid challenge on the touch line after the ball had gone out of play. Attention will now turn to Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban where the sides will meet again on Tuesday. Bafana will be desperate to put things right and take control of the group again.
Cheetahs, Kings Lashed in First Pro 14 Appearances
The Cheetahs and the Kings both suffered heavy defeats in their opening Pro 14 encounters. The men from Free State were downed 42-19 by Ulster in Belfast on Friday evening while the Kings looked completely out of their depth in Llanelli on Saturday as they were beaten 57-10 by the Scarlets.
Rory Duncan’s men were the more competitive of the two South African sides and were perhaps hamstrung slightly by two soft yellow cards. The Free State franchise held their own at the set pieces and competed well enough at the breakdown but were simply blown away in the second half by a very good Ulster team.
The Kings – let’s be honest – were rubbish on Saturday evening and were duly whipped by last season’s Pro 12 Champions. The Eastern Cape franchise travelled to Wales with a new-look squad following the departure of many star players to other South African franchises after news broke of their expulsion from Super Rugby.
Scarlets used their forwards to bully the South Africans before releasing their deadly backs. Former Crusaders winger, Johnny McNicholl grabbed two tries while Leigh Halfpenny bagged one on his return from Toulon. Rhys Patchell, Jake Ball, Emyr Phillips, Hadleigh Parkes and Steff Evans also dotted down for the hosts while Yaw Penxe score the Kings’ only five-pointer. Back to the drawing board for the South African sides, then.
Sharks go Top of Currie Cup Log
The Sharks brutally dispatched a depleted Cheetahs at Kings Park on Saturday to go four points clear at the top of the Currie Cup standings. With all of the Cheetahs first team players over in Ireland for their Pro 14 opener, it was left to a distinctly SuperSport Rugby Challenge side to get the job done.
Unfortunately for the Free Staters, they were blown away by a rampant Sharks team who came out with a point to prove, winning 45-15. The home side dominated up front with centre Lukhanyo Am and Winger S’bu Nkosi scything through the visitors’ defence almost at will.
To be honest, the Sharks could have had three or four more tries had they been a bit more clinical in the opposition 22 – it’ll be difficult for this Free State side to hang on to a top four spot with four tough games against Western Province, the Pumas, the Bulls and the Lions to come over the next few weeks.
Luxembourg Shock Les Bleus in Toulouse
France were held to a shock 0-0 by lowly Luxembourg in Toulouse on Sunday evening. Didier Deschamps’ men came into the encounter off the back of a commanding 4-0 victory over the Netherlands and were widely expected to smash their opponents who are ranked number 136 in the world.
The French dominated the match with more than three quarters of the possession, hitting 34 shots of which nine were on target. Les Bleus hit the woodwork twice with an Antoine Griezmann free-kick and a Paul Pogba header, however, that would be as close as France got.
Things could have been worse for Les Bleus as Gerson Rodrigues raced past Laurent Koscielny in 79th minute before firing his shot against the upright. Despite the draw, France remain top of Group A with a one-point lead over Sweden who hammered Belarus 4-0 in Barysaw.