The Pumas strengthened their push for a play-off spot with a vital away win over the Sharks while the Bulls and the Cheetahs, the two frontrunners on the Carling Currie Cup log, were both made to work hard for their victories this weekend.
In the round’s opening clash staged on Friday in Durban, the Pumas prevailed 20-10 over the Sharks in order to keep alive their chances of reaching the playoffs.
In the last match of the round played on Saturday in Pretoria, the Bulls had to withstand a strong second-half fightback to beat Windhoek Draught Griquas by 48-38 in Pretoria.
On Friday evening, the Lions gave it their all against the Cheetahs, who did just enough in the end to claw their way back to register a 35-26 bonus-point triumph over their Johannesburg hosts. After the latest round of action, the Bulls lead the standings with one point more than the unbeaten Cheetahs. The men from Pretoria are on 37 points and the Free Staters on 36, but the defending champions have played one more game.
The top teams at the top are followed by the Sharks in third (24 points after nine games), fourth-placed Griquas (21 points after nine games), the Pumas (19 points after eight games), Western Province (nine points after eight games) and the Lions (three points after nine games).
Next weekend, the Cheetahs host Sharks in Bloemfontein, the Bulls are home in the Jukskei River derby with neighbours Lions, while Western Province travel to the Lowveld to take on the Pumas in Nelspruit.
The Bulls ran out winners over Griquas in an action-packed clash of two halves that served up 13 tries at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday afternoon.
But in Durban, the Sharks made a lot of lineout mistakes against the Pumas, especially in the first stanza, which robbed them of a decent attacking platform and at the same time handing the momentum to the visitors.
The Pumas had most possession and territory in the opening spell, however, they spilled many promising opportunities by either committing handling errors or taking wrong options.