DHL Western Province this weekend remained the only unbeaten team in the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division following an exciting fourth round, which saw the Steval Pumas claim their second big scalp.
The Nelspruit team kicked off the weekend’s matches on Friday with a shock 32-22 bonus-point victory against the Cell C Sharks, which ended the Durban team’s three match winning run.
In Saturday’s matches, GWK Griquas put up a brave fight against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in Kimberley despite being forced to play with 14 men for 47 minutes, with the hosts suffering a respectable 36-25 defeat, while log-leaders DHL Western Province registered a narrow 23-18 victory against the Vodacom Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.
The Xerox Golden Lions, meanwhile, registered their third bonus-point victory of the season as they thumped the EP Kings 41-22 in Port Elizabeth.
Steval Pumas 32 (18) Cell C Sharks 22 (9)
The Steval Pumas claimed their biggest scalp in the competition on Friday by defeating the Cell C Sharks 32-22 for their third victory in four matches. The victory catapulted them into third place on the log standings above their Durban counterparts and served as a warning to the other teams that they can compete against the best in the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division. Such was the home side’s dominance they out-scored the Cell C Sharks four tries to one, while the opposition relied heavily on penalty kicks to keep the scoreboard ticking.
Cell C Sharks flyhalf Fred Zeilinga opened the scoring with the first of his five penalties in the seventh minute, but tries by Steval Pumas No8 Renaldo Bothma and flyhalf Justin van Staden to add to two penalties and a conversion by Van Staden handed the hosts an encouraging 18-9 half-time lead.
The visitors bounced back strongly in the second half with Zeilinga slotting over two penalties to add to the team’s only try of the match by SP Marais. But two tries in three minutes for the home team in the last 10 minutes forced the match out of range for the Cell C Sharks and earned the hosts a valuable bonus point.
Steval Pumas – Tries: Justin van Staden, Lubabalo Mtyanda, Renaldo Bothma, Stefan Watermeyer. Conversions: JC Roos (2), Justin van Staden. Penalties: Justin van Staden (2).
Cell C Sharks – Try: SP Marais. Conversion: Fred Zeilinga. Penalties: Fred Zeilinga (5).
GWK Griquas 25 (3) Toyota Free State Cheetahs 36 (15)
The Toyota Free State Cheetahs secured their second victory against the GWK Griquas in three weeks as they scored five tries to three to remain within range of the top sides in the series. The Bloemfontein side started the match strongly with a try by lock Francois Uys and a penalty in the first 13 minutes. They were later handed a massive edge as GWK Griquas No8 Carel Greeff received his second yellow card of the match in the 34th minute, which resulted in him being sent off for the remainder of the match. Free State wing Rayno Benjamin took advantage of this to run in their second try of the half shortly before the break for a handy 15-3 lead.
The hosts, however, forced their way back into the match with two tries in the third quarter, but three back-to-back tries by the visitors forced them into a convincing lead on the scoreboard and secured their bonus-point victory. The home team, however, fought until the end, which allowed wing Ederies Arendse to score their third try on the stroke of full time.
GWK Griquas – Tries: Ederies Arendse, Martin Bezuidenhout, Tian Meyer. Conversions: Dean Grant (2). Penalties: Dean Grant (2).
Toyota Free State Cheetahs – Tries: Clayton Blommetjies, Francois Uys, Jean Cook, Rayno Benjamin, Tienie Burger. Conversions: Pieter-Steyn de Wet (3), Willie du Plessis. Penalty: Willie du Plessis.
Vodacom Blue Bulls 18 (0) DHL Western Province 23 (3)
The battle at Loftus Versfeld was exciting as the Vodacom Blue Bulls delivered a solid performance on attack and defence in a desperate attempt to avoid another heavy defeat against the Cape side. Such was the closeness of the first half Western Province entered the break with a 3-0 lead.
The game, however, opened up in the second half as both teams raised the tempo of their play and went in search of space, which saw each side score two tries. Vodacom Blue Bulls flank Jacques du Plessis had the first say as he received the ball in space and sprinted to the tryline in the 48th minute, but two fantastic tries within four minutes by DHL Western Province wing Kobus van Wyk and Springbok Sevens star Seabelo Senatla pushed the team into a fair lead. The hosts bounced back four minutes from the final whistle with an impressive try by wing Sampie Mastriet, and worked their way into the visitors half minutes later to keep alive hopes of a late victory. But a knock-on metres from the tryline meant they had to settle for the five-point defeat.
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Jacques Du Plessis, Sampie Mastriet. Conversion: Joshua Stander. Penalties: Tian Schoeman (2).
DHL Western Province – Tries: Kobus van Wyk, Seabelo Senatla. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (2). Penalties: Demetri Catrakilis, Kurt Coleman (2).
EP Kings 22 (19) Xerox Golden Lions 41 (21)
The first half of the clash between the EP Kings and Xerox Golden Lions in Port Elizabeth was thrilling as both sides kept the opposition guessing and used their point-scoring chances. This resulted in the team’s earning three tries a piece.
The third quarter, meanwhile, was tight as the teams battled to penetrate the defence, but two penalties by Xerox Golden Lions fullback Ruan Combrinck to a drop goal by EP Kings flyhalf George Whitehead allowed the Johannesburg side to inflate their lead slightly. A late surge by the visitors, however, sealed the victory thanks to two tries in the last 10 minutes, which also secured their bonus point.
The result allowed the Johannesburg outfit to leap into second position on the log standings – three points behind DHL Western Province – while the Port Elizabeth team remains at the bottom on the log with only one point to show for their efforts in the first four rounds.
EP Kings – Tries: Penalty Try, Shane Gates, Siviwe Soyizwapi. Conversions: Scott van Breda (2). Drop Goal: George Whitehead.
Xerox Golden Lions – Tries: Derick Minnie, Franco Mostert, Jaco Kriel, Ruan Dreyer, Schalk van der Merwe. Conversions: Ruan Combrinck (5). Penalties: Ruan Combrinck (2).