Rugby: Nigerian Obi helps Pumas beat Bulls in Currie Cup

Nigeria-born Luther Obi scored a try and created two others as the lowly Pumas trounced weakened league winners the Bulls 44-14 Sunday in the South African Currie Cup.

Obi, a 27-year-old winger who hails from southeastern Nigerian football stronghold Aba, triggered the final round romp in Mbombela with an eighth-minute try. 

Later in the opening half, his passes enabled fellow winger Etienne Taljaard and flanker Daniel Maartens to score as the home side built a 34-7 half-time advantage.

READ ALSO How two Nigerian-Americans broke records in US election

The pace inevitably slackened during the second half in 30 degree celsius (86 fahrenheit) heat with the Pumas scoring an additional 10 points and the Bulls seven.

Despite the 30-point triumph, the Pumas finished sixth of seven teams in the 129-year-old Currie Cup, the oldest provincial rugby competition in the world.

Assured of topping the table after a midweek victory over the Lions, Bulls coach Jake White rested many of his first choices, including veteran captain and number eight Duane Vermeulen.

The 2007 Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok coach did choose 36-year-old fly-half Morne Steyn, but took him off at half-time.

Pumas loosehead prop Morgan Naude, who has produced a series of impressive performances in the Currie Cup, was voted man of the match.

“I want to share this award with the whole pack,” he said. “Our coach (Jimmy Stonehouse) told us to be calm and play in the Bulls half. That is what we did.” 

Deserved reward -Victory was a deserved reward for the Pumas, one of the cinderella teams of South African rugby, who came close to defeating several top franchises this season before overwhelming the Bulls.  

Fly-half Devon Williams twice and number eight Willie Engelbrecht were the Pumas’ other try scorers and scrum-half Ginter Smuts kicked four conversions and two penalties after missing his first two shots.

Bulls hooker Joe van Zyl and centre Dawid Kellerman scored a try each, which were converted by Steyn and full-back Clinton Swart.

The Bulls will now switch their attention to a home semi-final against the Lions in Pretoria on January 23 while Western Province face the Sharks in Cape Town the same day. 

On Saturday, two-time World Cup winner Francois Steyn maintained an amazing goal-kicking streak by contributing 17 points for outgoing champions the Cheetahs in a 22-18 win over the Griquas in Kimberley.

The inside centre succeeded with all six shots at goal — a conversion and five penalties — to raise to 20 the number of successive kicks he scored from in three matches.   

The most important against the gallant bottom team was his fifth penalty on 78 minutes as it widened a 19-18 lead to four points and condemned the Griquas to a winless season. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.