Cape Town - The Pumas, Western Province and the Free State XV kept their winning records intact after the sixth round of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge on a weekend that saw a first win for the Welwitschias in this year’s competition.
The competition again delivered a rash of tries. Enver Brandt, the leading try-scorer in 2018, helped himself to four more, setting a new mark for tries scored in this exciting competition.
Brandt has now scored 11 tries for Griquas, improving on the nine tries scored by himself and Frank Herne (Pumas) in the inaugural season last year.
On Friday, Brandt’s tries came in a dramatic fight-back from his team in Potchefstroom, as the visitors, trailing the Leopards at half-time, delivered a massive effort to not only overhaul the home side, but also pull away at the Fanie du Toit Sportsgrounds.
The Leopards, the only side in the Central Section yet to secure a win, were in front until the 65th minute, but ran out of steam and ideas on how to contain the visitors from Kimberley.
In the other match in the Central Section, also played on Friday, the Toyota Free State XV kept their clean slate with a hard-fought 33-19 win over the Griffons in Bloemfontein.
The home side blitzed the Welkom visitors in the first half, leading 26-0 at the break at Toyota Stadium. Their pack laid a powerful foundation, with No 8 Jasper Wiese scoring a brace. The Griffons scored all three their tries in the second half, as they came back hard at the home side.
Defending champions Western Province kept their unbeaten streak going in a brilliant second half display against the EP Elephants in Port Elizabeth on Saturday. The home side actually held the lead at the break (21-19), but whatever coach John Dobson said at half-time worked wonders for the visitors, who dominated the second half, winning 75-28.
No less than 10 ‘Streeptruie’ scored tries as they overwhelmed the home side with a team effort. Centre Dan du Plessis got a brace, while the two kickers, Joshua Stander and Tristan Leyds, converted 10 of the 11 tries.
With the DHL WP running away in the South Section, the second play-off spot remains undecided and fiercely competitive. The Border Bulldogs are making a proper charge after their slow start, this time edging out Boland Cavaliers in East London.
The home side delivered a 29-14 knockout to the visitors, who held a 14-8 lead at the break. The second half of the clash at the BCM Stadium belonged to the Bulldogs, who not only prevented the attacking Boland from scoring again, they also thrilled the locals with some great tries of their own.
The North Section saw two telling results on Saturday. First, the Pumas outplayed the Blue Bulls in Pretoria to confirm their credentials as top dog so far, winning 34-22 at Loftus Versfeld. They held a 22-5 lead at the break and with Ruwellyn Isbell again in fine form scoring a brace, kept their undefeated status in check.
The Blue Bulls will have to contest the second play-off spot with the Xerox Golden Lions it seems, especially after the Valke came up short 34-24 in Kempton Park against the Welwitschias.
The Namibians scored their first win of the year and more significantly, their first away win in two years. This will be a massive boost to their confidence and they will be looking at tripping up another opponent in the remaining weeks.
Round 6 results and scorers:
Valke 24 (10), Welwitschias 34 (13)
Valke - Tries: Andrew van Wyk, Sikhumbuzo Mabuza, Martin Sithole, Marco Klopper. Conversions: Andre du Plessis (2).
Welwitschias - Tries: JC Winkler, Pieter Steenkamp, Johan Tromp, Janre du Toit. Conversions: Steenkamp (4); Penalties: Steenkamp (2).
Blue Bulls 22 (5), Pumas 34 (20)
Blue Bulls - Tries: Edgar Marutlulle, JT Jackson, Jamba Ulengo, Jaco Bezuidenhout. Conversion: Earll Douwrie.
Pumas - Tries: Marko Janse van Rensburg, Jerome Pretorius, Ruwellyn Isbell (2). Conversions: Chris Smith (3), Justin van Staden. Penalties: Smith (2).
Eastern Province Elephants 28 (21), Western Province 75 (19)
EP Elephants - Tries: Reuben de Vos, JP Smith, Bakkies Brown, Dewald Barnard. Conversions: De Vos (4).
Western Province - Tries: Chris Massyn, Grant Hermanus, Edwil van der Merwe, Dan du Plessis (2), Luke Stringer, Steph de Witt, Johan du Toit, Tristan Leyds, Chad Solomons, Duncan Saal. Conversions: Josh Stander (6), Leyds (4).
Border Bulldogs 29 (8), Boland Cavaliers 14 (14)
Border Bulldogs - Tries: Siphosenkosi Nofemele, Somila Mantyoyi, Somila Jho, Sinovuyo Nyoka. Conversions: Bangi Kobese (3). Drop Goal: Aphiwe Stemele.
Boland Cavaliers - Tries: Jacquin Jansen, Francois Esterhuyzen. Conversions: Elgar Watts (2).
Leopards 31 (24), Tafel Lager Griquas 46 (15)
Leopards - Tries: Louis van der Westhuizen, Evardi Boshoff, Joe Smith (2). Conversions: Schalk Hugo (3). Penalties: Hugo (2).
Griquas - Tries: Enver Brandt (4), FP Pelser, Christiaan Meyer, Ederies Arendse. Conversions: André Swarts, George Whitehead (3). Penalty: Swarts.
Toyota Free State XV 33 (26), Griffons 19 (0)
Toyota Free State XV - Tries: Jasper Wiese (2), Erich de Jager, Neil Jordaan, Penalty Try. Conversions: Ernst Stapelberg (3).
Griffons - Tries: Rodney Damons, Danie van der Merwe, Jaun Kotze. Conversions: Kotze (2).
Log points after Round 6:
1. Pumas 24
2. Blue Bulls 16
3. Golden Lions XV 12
4. Valke 7
5. Welwitschias 6
1. Free State XV 24
2. Griquas 22
3. Sharks XV 12
4. Griffons 9
5. Leopards 2
1. Western Province 24
2. Boland Cavaliers 16
3. SWD 10
4. Border Bulldogs 9
5. Eastern Province 4