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Sharks setting the standard in the Currie Cup

By Craig Ray | 2017-09-17 15:40:44.0

Tristan Blewett of the Cell C Sharks during the Currie Cup match between Tafel Lager Griquas and Cell C Sharks at Tafel Lager Park on September 15, 2017 in Kimberley, South Africa. Picture credits: Gallo Images

The Sharks are so far ahead of the chasing pack in the Currie Cup‚ they could take two weeks off and still top the table after securing their eighth straight win of the tournament last Friday.

Beating Griquas 40-22 in Kimberley moved the Sharks to 39 points on the standings – 14 clear of the Free State Cheetahs and Golden Lions respectively with only four rounds of the regular season to go.

The Sharks have played nine matches and only have three outings to come‚ but only a massive implosion would stop them from topping the table now.

They have tough fixtures – against the Blue Bulls‚ Golden Lions and Western Province – but they are all at home.

The Sharks have reached this point in the campaign having played two thirds of their matches on the road. It's been an impressive run.

To add gloss to their fine campaign so far the Sharks have unearthed some wonderful raw talent in wing Sbu Nkosi and centre Marius Louw while lock/flank Tyler Paul continues to deliver on the promise he showed for the Kings in Super Rugby.

With Curwin Bosch back at flyhalf to steer the team behind a strong pack‚ and with so much talent outside him‚ the Sharks should feel that anything other than winning the Currie Cup would be failure this year.

At the other end of the standings the Blue Bulls are in danger of missing the semi-finals after losing a thriller 36-33 against the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.

The home team dominated territory but the Bulls showed great character to stay in the match although they played too much rugby inside their own half and were tactically naïve at times. But under coach John Mitchell they appear to improving after a poor start to the season. It might be a case of too little‚ too late though.

The Bulls’ away match against the Sharks this weekend has now become a must-win for the Pretoria team if they hope to stay in the semi race. They are on 20 points‚ two behind the fifth placed Pumas and WP.

The Pumas are also solidly in the play-off mix after securing their first win over WP in eight years in Nelspruit last Friday.

The 22-12 victory was built on the back of a good set piece and solid defence – especially in the second half when they kept WP scoreless.

The Pumas are away to a depleted Free State this week and then host the bottom-placed Griquas in the penultimate round before finishing their regular season against the Bulls at Loftus. As run-ins go‚ hey couldn’t have asked for more. - SowetanLIVE