The Xerox Golden Lions produced their most impressive display of the season when they outplayed DHL Western Province 62-32 in their Absa Currie Cup match at Emirates Airline Park on Friday evening in Johannesburg.
The Lions stretched their unbeaten run to nine games and their prolific form saw them stack up 135 points in their last two games. They are nine points clear of second-placed Vodacom Blue Bulls, who outplayed the Eastern Province Kings 48-27 also on Friday in Pretoria.
Although WP suffered their third loss of their campaign against a rampant Lions team, their 30 league points means they are assured of third place on the standings irrespective of the outcome of their last round-robin clash this coming Friday against the EP Kings in Cape Town.
ORC Griquas were no match for the Cell C Sharks in Kimberley on Saturday as the Durban-based side ran in six tries for a 45-20 victory to move within two points of the fourth-placed Toyota Free State Cheetahs on the log ahead.
The Steval Pumas and the Cheetahs played to a thrilling 37-37 draw in their encounter at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Saturday after the visitors led 24-16 at half-time.
Currently, the Golden Lions lead the way on 43 points, followed by the Blue Bulls on 34, WP are third (30), FS Cheetahs fourth (21), followed by the Sharks (19), Pumas (16), EP Kings (12) and Griquas (8).
This coming weekend sees the Cheetahs host the Sharks in Bloemfontein and the winner of this encounter will play the Lions in one of the Semi-finals in Johannesburg. The Blue Bulls just need a win in Nelspruit to set up a home meeting in the playoffs against WP.
The last round of league fixtures are:
Friday 9 October: DHL WP vs EP Kings (DHL Newlands, 18h00); Steval Pumas vs Vodacom Blue Bulls (Mbombela Stadium, 18h00).
Saturday, 10 October: Xerox Golden Lions vs ORC Griquas (Emirates Airline Park, 14h00); Toyota Free State Cheetahs vs Cell C Sharks (Free State Stadium, 16h05).
Xerox Golden Lions (36) 62 DHL Western Province (20) 32
The Lions smashed through the 50-point barrier for a second week in a row at Emirates Airline Park, scoring nine tries in the process against last year’s winner from Cape Town.
The Lions gave early warning of their intent with a superb break through the middle which ended with Marnitz Boshoff slotting his only penalty after three minutes, on his way to a personal tally of 18 points from a try, five conversions and the penalty. WP responded with two Robert du Preez penalties. But then the Lions got themselves organised and their precision and pace proved too much for Province.
First No 4 lock Lourens Erasmus scored under the posts after multiple phases in the 11th minute, and on the half hour No 5 lock, Franco Mostert, scored their bonus-point fourth try for a lead of 29-6. Flying hooker Malcolm Marx followed next and he in turn, was followed by Boshoff.
WP then hit back, first though a Sikhumbuzo Notshe try from a driving maul, and then just before halftime when centre Johnny Kotze dotted down. However, to the delight of the home support, the Lions replied in typical fashion. First it was centre Howard Mnisi who wiped out the Notshe try, and five minutes after the restart Andries Coetzee went over in the corner for the Lions’ sixth try.
More was to follow from wing Anthony Volmink, who sliced through a gap and flank Kwagga Smith. Later Stokkies Hanekom finished another superb move. WP never gave up and Notshe as well as Nic Groom each scored after driving mauls.
Xerox Golden Lions – Tries: Lourens Erasmus, Malcolm Marx, Marnitz Boshoff, Franco Mostert, Howard Mnisi, Andries Coetzee, Anthony Volmink, Kwagga Smith, Stokkies Hanekom; Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (5), Jaco van der Walt (2). Penalty: Boshoff.
DHL Western Province – Try: Sikhumbuzo Notshe (2), Johnny Kotze, Nic Groom; Conversions: Robert du Preez (3); Penalties: Du Preez (2).
Vodacom Blue Bulls (17) 48 Eastern Province Kings (20) 27
The Vodacom Blue Bulls ran in seven tries to register a comprehensive victory over the EP Kings at Loftus Versfeld on Friday evening. The Kings started strong with fullback Scott van Breda landing a penalty goal before centre Tim Whitehead crossed for the first try of the match.
The Blue Bulls hit back with two tries through captain and flank Lappies Labuschagne and Springbok No 8 Arno Botha. Flyhalf Tian Schoeman converted both tries and a penalty goal to give the home side the lead before halftime. However, the Kings refused to lie down and were rewarded with an Elgar Watts try. Van Breda converted to allow the visitors a slender 17-20 lead at the break.
Kings’ replacement hooker Edgar Marutlulle was shown a yellow card in the 49th minute and the Blue Bulls used the advantage to allow centre Dries Swanepoel to score from close range. Scrumhalf Francois Hougaard then scored a brilliant solo try moments later and prop Werner Kruger got their fifth try before the Kings also lost replacement prop Schalk Ferreira to a yellow card. Replacement flank Ruan Schoeman and lock Jacques du Plessis both dotted down in the final minutes while Kings centre JP du Plessis pulled back a consolation.
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Lappies Labuschagne, Arno Botha, Dries Swanepoel, Francois Hougaard, Werner Kruger, Ruan Steenkamp, Jacques du Plessis; Conversions: Tian Schoeman (5); Penalties: Schoeman.
Eastern Province Kings – Tries: Tim Whitehead, Elgar Watts, JP du Plessis; Conversions: Scott van Breda (3); Penalties: van Breda (2).
ORC Griquas (10) 20 Cell C Sharks (31) 45
Griquas were no match for a rampant Sharks side during their Absa Currie Cup match at Griquas Park in Kimberley on Saturday. The Sharks secured their four-try bonus point before halftime already and took a commanding 31-10 lead into the break.
Cobus Reinach, Paul Jordaan, Francois Kleinhans and Andre Esterhuizen were first-half try scorers for The Sharks, while Michael Claassens and Sibusiso Sithole added a try each in the second half.
Joe Pietersen enjoyed a fine afternoon with the boot as he succeeded with all six conversions to go with one penalty. Sevens specialists Ruhan Nel (2) and Sandile Ngcobo scored three tries amongst them for the Griquas. Clinton Swart converted both tries and also slotted a penalty.
ORC Griquas – Tries: Ruhan Nel (2), Sandile Ngcobo; Conversions: Clinton Swart (2); Penalty: Clinton Swart.
Cell C Sharks – Tries: Cobus Reinach, Paul Jordaan, Francois Kleinhans, Andre Esterhuizen, Michael Claassens, Sibusiso Sithole; Conversions: Joe Pietersen (6); Penalty: Pietersen.
Steval Pumas (16) 37 Toyota Free State Cheetahs (24) 37
The Pumas played superbly in the second half to wipe out a 24-16 deficit. The Cheetahs scored five tries through wing Sergeal Petersen, No 8 De Wet Kruger, flank Oupa Mohoje, centre Francois Venter and replacement Freddy Ngoza.
Flyhalf Sias Ebersohn added three conversions and a penalty while replacement Niel Marais was also on target with a penalty. The Pumas responded with four tries of their own by flank Jaco Bouwer, and replacement forwards De-Jay Terblanche, Marnus Schoeman and Rudi Mathee. Flyhalf Justin van Staden was successful with all four conversions and three penalties.
Both teams picked up three points – two for the draw and one for scoring four tries or more.
Steval Pumas – Tries: Jaco Bouwer, De-Jay Terblanche, Marnus Schoeman, Rudi Mathee.; Conversions: Justin van Staden (4); Penalties: Van Staden (3).
Toyota Free State Cheetahs – Tries: Sergeal Petersen, Oupa Mohoje, Francois Venter, De Wet Kruger, Freddie Ngoza. Conversion: Sias Ebersohn (3). Penalties: Ebersohn, Niel Marais.