Cape Town - A narrow escape for defending champions, Western Province, some flexing of muscles from the Sharks XV, Blue Bulls and Free State XV, and a total of 57 tries in six matches were the highlights of the third round of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge this weekend.
Two more hat-tricks - this time from the Blue Bulls’ Embrose Papier and Ulrich Beyers, added further highlights to a weekend where more stars of tomorrow emerged in another round of excitement and high-class rugby.
In Cape Town, a late penalty from Josh Stander kept Western Province’s unbeaten run in the competition intact. Stander kicked his second penalty in the match four minutes from time to give his side a 23-21 win in an exciting South Section clash over the Boland Cavaliers at Newlands on Saturday.
The home side dominated the first 40 minutes and scored two tries, both by scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies and a penalty and conversion by Stander for a 15-0 lead at the break.
Boland woke up in the second half and scored early to bring them back into the match. WP scored a third try to push out the lead to 13 points again, before two converted tries by Boland gave them the lead with seven minutes to go. Stander then saved face and the unbeaten streak with his match-winner.
SWD emerged as a play-off contender in the South Section with a second win in the competition. They hosted the Border Bulldogs at Outeniqua Park in George on Friday and secured a 38-20 win after leading 17-3 at the break. The home side scored two good tries in the opening half and that created the buffer needed as the second half proved a tit for tat affair. No less than six tries in the last 40 minutes - three by each team - were scored as the crowd was treated to a try-fest in an entertaining match.
Good wins away from home by the Blue Bulls and Golden Lions XV reminded the front-runner in the North Section, the Pumas (who had a bye), that they are still in the fight, with good wins over the Valke and Welwitschias respectively.
A strong second half by the Blue Bulls saw them ease into a convincing 64-33 win over the Valke at the Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park. The visiting backs enjoyed the platform laid out by their forwards with both Beyers and Papier bagging hat-tricks.
The second half effort by the Blue Bulls took the match away from the home side, who were still in touching distance having scored three tries to five at the break.
The visiting Golden Lions XV were made to work hard at the Hage Geingob Stadium in Windhoek, where the Welwitschias pushed them all the way. The Gauteng side scored seven tries, with Bradley Thain and Pieter Jansen each crossing the tryline twice, but with the home side determined effort, the visitors could never really pull away. The Namibians scored five tries themselves and will take a lot of encouragement from this performance.
In Durban, the Sharks XV’s backline proved too classy for the Griffons as they beat the visitors 33-22 at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday in a Central Section clash.
The score could have been much closer though, with the visitors only converting one of four tries, while the home side converted four of five attempts. Three of those came from flyhalf Garth April, who also added a try in a solid performance for the Durban side. The home side jumped into a 19-0 lead before the Griffons, mainly through their forward pack, began to claw their way back into the match.
The Free State XV outplayed the Leopards at Shimla Park in Bloemfontein in the second half of their match, winning 40-20 after leading 14-10 at the break.
The winless Leopards have now conceded 25 tries in four matches to remain rooted at the bottom of the Central Section, while the Free Staters secured a second win in as many weeks as they scored six tries to two in a performance where they attacked from all over, finding the visitors’ defence wanting too often.
Round 3 results and scorers
Welwitschias 35 (21), Golden Lions 45 (26)
Windhoek Draught Welwitschias - Tries: Darryl de la Harpe (2), Johan Tromp, Pieter Steenkamp, Leneve Damens. Conversions: Steenkamp (4), Helarius Kisting
Golden Lions XV - Tries: Ronald Brown, Wayne van der Bank, Bradley Thain (2), Pieter Jansen (2), Shaun Reynolds. Conversions: Reynolds (5)
Valke 33 (21), Blue Bulls 64 (35)
Valke - Tries: Lundi Ralarala, Ettienne Taljaard, Stokkies du Plessis, Jacques Alberts. Conversions: Stokkies du Plessis (3), Errol Jaggers
Blue Bulls - Tries: Ulrich Beyers (3), Embrose Papier (3), Xolisa Guma, Matthys Basson, Corniel Els, Marius Verwey. Conversions: Earll Douwrie (7)
Free State XV 40 (14), Leopards 20 (10)
Free State XV - Tries: JP du Preez, Tertius Kruger, Darren Adonis, Daniel Maartens, Ayabonga Oliphant, Ruben de Haas. Conversions: Ernst Stapelberg (5)
Leopards - Tries: Walt Steenkamp, Boela Venter. Conversions: Schalk Hugo, DP de Lange. Penalties: Hugo (2).
Sharks XV 33 (19), Griffons 22 (10)
Sharks XV - Tries: Jeremy Ward, Hyron Andrews, Leolin Zas, Garth April, Grant Williams. Conversions: April (3), Danrich Visagie
Griffons - Tries: Gavin Annandale, Anrich Alberts, Cody-Anthony Basson, Neil Claassen. Conversion: Jaun Kotze
Western Province 23 (15), Boland Cavaliers 21 (0)
DHL Western Province - Tries: Herschel Jantjies (2), Edwill van der Merwe. Conversion: Josh Stander. Penalties: Stander (2)
Boland Cavaliers - Tries: Ludio Williams, Jovelian de Koker, Valentino Wellman. Conversions: Jacquin Jansen (3)
SWD Eagles 38 (17), Border Bulldogs 20 (3)
SWD Eagles - Tries: Teunis Nieuwoudt, Janneman Stander, Tyler Fisher (2), Leighton Eksteen. Conversions: Divan Nel (5). Penalty: Divan Nel
Border Bulldogs - Tries: Soso Xakalashe, Sowso Mqala (2). Conversions: Bangi Kobese. Penalty: Bangi Kobese