With The Rugby Championship now done and dusted, the Springbok players involved look set to be returning to their Provincial Unions and respective overseas Clubs to continue plying their trade.
This of course leaves Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer a worried man and wishing he was in the fortunate situation which the All Blacks coach finds himself, where the All Black players will rest some more before the November Internationals start (of course there is still the matter of a Bledisloe Cup encounter between the All Blacks and Wallabies to consider on 18 October).
The worry is about the returning Springbok players picking up possible injuries at Provincial Currie Cup level ahead of the End Of Year Tours, where the Springboks play Wales on 9 November, Scotland the following week and France the week thereafter.
In the meantime the Currie Cup Premier Division is hotting up going into the last open round this weekend, with DHL Western Province leading the Log by 1 point over The Sharks, but with a vital Log decider happening between these 2 sides on the weekend, the result of which would decide who tops the Log.
In third place the Toyota Free State Cheetahs are already a full 10 points behing The Sharks and the Golden Lions only 1 point behind them on 21 Log Points.
In 5th spot, the Vodacom Blue Bulls are still in with a mathematical chance to reach the top 4 semi-finals, albeit that being a very remote chance, with them losing in the dying moments at Loftus Versfeld over the weekend to The Sharks, with the Vodacom Blue Bulls sitting on 17 Log points and needing a full haul of 5 Log points whilst keeping the Toyota Free State Cheetahs away from any Log points over the weekend… whilst also building on points difference. This is very much the same position as the Springboks found themselves at against the All Blacks in competing for the title in The Rugby Championship this past weekend.
The Golden Lions, although only 4 Log Points ahead of the Blue Bulls, play a much easier opponent on the weekend when they face the bottom of the Log GWK Griquas on the weekend, and if sense prevails should see them score a full haul of 5 Log points in the process.
GWK Griquas are already assured to have to play in the promotion / relegation battle against a Currie Cup First Division side.
DHL Western Province (18) 36 / 23 (9) MTN Golden Lions:
In Cape Town the first 30 minutes between DHL Western Province and the MTN Golden Lions was dominated by penalties, which flyhalves Demetri Catrakilis and Marnitz Boshoff took advantage of to keep the scoreboard ticking.
But the home team managed to get a break-through shortly before half time as Damian de Allende and Deon Fourie crashed over for tries to hand the team an 18-9 lead.
Western Province stretched their lead minutes after the break thanks to a try by wing Gerhard van den Heever and another penalty by Catrakilis.
But the Lions clawed their back into the match in the fourth quarter with two tries by inspirational captain Derick Minnie to come within range of securing a bonus point for losing by seven points or less.
The team was awarded a penalty late in the match, but rather than opting to kick for posts and reduce the gap between the sides to seven points, they kicked for touch and lost the ball in contact.
Western Province took full advantage of this error to build phases on attack, which paid off as Michael Rhodes scored the bonus point try on the stroke of full time.
DHL Western Province 36 (18) – Tries: Damian de Allende, Deon Fourie, Gerhard van der Heever, Michael Rhodes. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis. Penalties: Catrakilis (3), Kurt Coleman.
MTN Golden Lions 23 (9) – Tries: Derick Minnie (2). Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (2). Penalties: Boshoff (3).
GWK Griquas (7) 21 / 52 (14) Toyota Free State Cheetahs:
In Kimberley, four tries by Toyota Free State speedster Raymond Rhule, who made his way back into the team following an injury to star right wing Riaan Smit, set up the side for a morale-boosting victory against GWK Griquas.
The first half was tight despite the Toyota Free State Cheetahs building up a 14-0 lead in the first quarter compliments of three Elgar Watts penalties and a try by Schalk van der Merwe.
But Griquas tightened up their defence and hit back with a try late in the half to close the gap to 14-7.
Griquas did well to contain the Cheetahs in the opening exchanges of the second half, but the flood gates opened for the visitors 10 minutes in as they scored tries at will.
So dominant were the side, they scored five second-half tries, while Griquas managed only two.
The defeat for Griquas sealed their fate in the series as the last-placed team, which means they will play two promotion-relegation fixtures against the Pumas, who finished the Absa Currie Cup First Division league stages as the top team, to determine which team will feature in the Premier Division next season.
GWK Griquas 21 (7) – Tries: Dalton Davis, Jaco Nepgen, Rory Arnold. Conversions: Gouws Prinsloo (3).
Toyota Free State Cheetahs 52 (14) – Tries: Piet van Zyl, Raymond Rhule (4), Schalk van der Merwe. Conversions: Elgar Watts (2), Willie du Plessis (3). Penalties: Watts (4).
Vodacom Blue Bulls (6) 16 / 18 (9) The Sharks:
At Loftus Versfeld the Sharks held on for their seventh victory of the season despite two yellow cards.
With the Sharks playing for a home semifinal and the Vodacom Blue Bulls desperate to win to stay in the running for a semifinal berth, the clash was expected to be hard fought, and it lived up to these expectations.
The Sharks had the advantage in terms of territory and possession early in the first half, but they battled to breach the Blue Bulls’ defence, which resulted in the team having to settle for penalties.
The home team, however, slowly clawed their way into the match as the half progressed, although similarly to the Sharks they battled to get over the tryline.
In total Sharks flyhalf Fred Zeilinga kicked three penalties in the first half, while his Blue Bulls counterpart Handre Pollard kicked two, which handed the visitors a narrow 9-6 lead.
The second half was equally tightly-fought as the teams threw everything at each other.
Another penalty by Zeilinga in the 44th minute extended the Sharks’ lead to 12-6, but a converted try by Blue Bulls centre Francois Venter edged the home team into the lead.
Pollard extended their lead to 16-12 with a penalty in the 66th minute.
But two late penalties by Butch James in the last 10 minutes, the second of which was in the 78th minute, dashed the Blue Bulls hopes’ of a victory.
Vodacom Blue Bulls 16 (6) – Try: Francois Venter. Conversion: Handre Pollard. Penalties: Pollard (3).
The Sharks 18 (9) – Penalties: Fred Zeilinga (4), Butch James (2).