Cape Town - Another bumper Rugby Festival edition, this time at Impala Rugby Club in Rustenburg, a first win in the competition for the Welwitschias and the flexing of muscles by Western Province highlighted the SuperSport Rugby Challenge this weekend.
The third Rugby Festival was held in Leopards country and although the home side were defeated 54-17 by Griquas in a crucial Central Section clash, rugby was the big winner of the day.
First, the Free State Cheetahs XV downed neighbours the Griffons 48-53 (halftime 15-36) in a try-scoring feast, before the Kimberley team spoiled the fun for the locals with a strong first half that resulted in a win over Leopards. This was an important win for the visitors as it not only reversed the result of the teams from their first round clash, but also moves Griquas further into the lead in a very competitive pool.
The Free State Cheetahs XV is also getting their act together after a slow start and could create havoc with play-off permutations in the second round. They ran the Griffons off their feet in the opening quarter of their match played at Impala and although the Welkom men did come back into the match, it was won by halftime, with the Bloemfontein team 36-15 ahead and cruising.
There was much joy in Windhoek as the Welwitschias finally got their act together and beat the Valke 45-43 to register a first win in the North Section of the competition. What makes this victory even that more special for the Welwitschias, is that they finished the match with 14 men after fullback David Philander received his second yellow card just ten minutes before the half-time whistle.
Despite that, they posted 42 points in an incredible first half and then had to defend with all their worth to keep the Valke at bay as the visitors dominated the second half. Theuns Kotze converted all six tries and kicked a penalty, but the Valke could only convert four of their seven tries and that proved to be the difference.
The other match in the North Section could prove hugely significant with regards to the play-offs as Pumas beat the Blue Bulls 35-29 in Nelspruit to do the double over their Pretoria opponents. Two late tries by the Pumas proved the difference and although the visitors attacked with everything they had in the last minutes of play, it was not enough to secure the win. The Blue Bulls had a 19-18 lead at the break, but a 72nd minute try by hooker Frank Herne proved the final nail in their coffin.
In the South Section, Western Province have no peers in the first round of clashes and the gap between them and the rest of the teams in the section remains wide.
This time Western Province collected their fifth straight victory when they beat Eastern Province Kings 39-24 (half-time 22-17) in their SuperSport Rugby Challenge fixture at City Park, Cape Town, on Saturday. The home team scored six tries to three to solidify their spot at the top of the South Section of the competition.
In the other South Section clash, Boland took revenge on Border for their first round loss, by beating the visitors 21-20 in Ceres.
The accurate boot of Boland fullback, Divan Nel, proved the difference, as he kicked three penalties and a conversion. In fact, Nel also scored a try for a personal contribution of 16 points. Border scored three tries to two, but their kicking proved their undoing, with the normally reliable Oliver Zono only kicking one conversion. Boland keep their outside chance of qualification alive as they narrowed the gap on the Bulldogs on the South Section Log.
A summary of the weekend's scorers and results are:
Leopards 17 (5), Griquas 54 (29).
Griquas 54 - Tries: Jason Fraser (2), Tertius Kruger, Adriaan Coertzen, Andre Swarts, Renier Botha, George Whitehead. Conversions: Andre Swarts (5). Penalties: Swarts (3).
Leopards 17 - Tries: Juan Language, Jeandre Rudolph, Elden Schoeman. Conversion: Schalk Hugo.
Griffons 48 (15), Free State Cheetahs 53 (36)
Griffons - Tries: Gabriel Engelbrecht, Warren Williams (3), Neil Claassen, Rodney Damons, Jasper Wiese. Conversions: Duan Pretorius (5). Penalties: Robbie Petzer.
Free State XV - Tries: Ali Mgijima (2), Michael van der Spuy, Luther Obi (2), JW Jonker, Ntokoza Vidima. Conversions: Marco Mason (6); Penalties: Mason (2).
Western Province 39 (22), Eastern Province Kings 24 (17)
EP Kings – Tries: Wandile Mjekevu, Siyanda Grey, Michael Brink. Conversions: Garrick Mattheus (3). Penalties: Garrick Mattheus.
WP – Tries: Craig Barry (2), Marcello Sampson, Jaco Coetzee, Chad Solomon, Khanyo Ngcukana. Conversions: Brandon Thomson (3). Penalties: Brandon Thomson.
Boland Cavaliers 21 (21), Border 20 (5)
Boland – Tries: Sergio Torrens, Divan Nel. Conversions: Divan Nel. Penalties: Divan Nel (3)
Border – Tries: Sinovuyo Nyoka, Yanga Xakalashe, Oliver Zono. Conversion: Oliver Zono. Penalty: Oliver Zono
Pumas 35 (18), Blue Bulls 29 (19)
Steval Pumas - Tries: Marco Janse van Rensburg, Ryan Nell, Hennie Skorbinski, Frank Herne. Conversions: Kobus Marais (3). Penalties: Marais (3).
Vodacom Blue Bulls - Tries: Shaun Adendorff (2), Franco Naude, Penalty try. Conversions: Tinus de Beer (2). Penalty: Joshua Stander.
Welwitschias 45 (42), Valke 43 (24).
Windhoek Draught Welwitschias - Tries: Gino Wilson (2), Roderiques Victor, David Philander, Johann Greyling, Lesley Kim. Conversions: Theuns Kotze (6). Penalty: Kotze
Hino Valke - Tries: Johannes Pretorius (2), Shane Kirkwood, Grant Janke, Etienne Taljaard, Reg Muller, Marco Klopper. Conversions: Christian Rust (4).