Entering the encounter with wins over the Toyota Cheetahs, DHL Western Province and the Sigma Lions, the side from Kimberley added the Durbanites to their impressive list of victims.
They did so in remarkable fashion as they overcame no less than five yellow cards - two back-to-back in the first half and a trifecta in quick succession in the second stanza - to avenge their 30-16 first-round loss to the KwaZulu-Natalians back in June.
Scott Mathie’s men gave the hosts a lesson in cashing in on a numerical advantage after they survived a major storm and then turned the tables to take control of the game right before and after half-time. During this period, in which Cell C Sharks scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba was in the sin bin, the visitors showed the accuracy and more importantly, patience, the home team lacked to run in three tries.
And, despite being down to 12 men late in the game, gutsy Tafel Lager Griquas held on for a hard-earned win. For the Cell C Sharks, it was a costly comedy of errors that saw them surrender top spot on the table to the Vodacom Bulls, who bagged a 34-13 bonus-point win over 14-man DHL Western Province at Newlands on Saturday evening.
Tafel Lager Griquas got off to a perfect start as wing Daniel Kasende sliced straight through from a well-worked scrum move for the opening try after just two minutes, with George Whitehead popping over the conversion from right in front of the posts.
They gifted the Cell C Sharks three points, with runners ahead of the kicker from the restart allowing Curwin Bosch to calm things down and open his team’s account. Moments later, Bosch broke free and looked to have set up a try but the last pass from Werner Kok was ruled forward by TMO Marius van der Westhuizen.
Now in complete control, the hosts piled on the pressure and won a plethora of penalties for their efforts. Janu Botha was the last to infringe before referee Aimee Barrett-Theron lost patience, giving the tighthead prop his marching orders. Scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer followed swiftly for a cynical and dangerous tackle on opposite number Nohamba.
With a two-man advantage, the men in Black and White were their own worst enemies as a lack of patience led to one mistake after the other and wild roars of celebrations from the visitors, who were somehow able to escape their 22 unscathed.
The unprecedented penalty count continued and the powerful Le Roux Roets carried strongly before the overzealous hosts went off their feet at the ruck. Remarkably, the Peacock Blues had survived after conceding well over a dozen penalties.
Kok was the catalyst the Durbanites desperately needed with a brilliant break from inside his own half, with fast hands by Anthony Volmink seeing Mpilo Gumede cantering over for what coach Sean Everitt would’ve considered a long-overdue try in the 31st minute. Bosch’s conversion attempt went wide.
Three minutes later, it was the Cell C Sharks who were down to 14 men as Nohamba was yellow-carded for a high tackle on Ashlon Davids, which unfortunately resulted in the fullback being stretchered off. Tafel Lager Griquas followed the hosts’ example of turning down kickable penalty goals, but unlike their opponents, they got instant reward with not one but two quick seven-pointers.
Hooker Janco Uys rumbled over from a driving maul before Ederies Arendse went over in the corner. Suddenly, and seemingly against all odds, it was the gutsy visitors who held a 21-8 lead after a fascinating first half. Continuing their momentum, it took just six minutes into the second half for Sibabalo Qoma to score the bonus-point try, the flank flopping over from another dominant driving maul and Whitehead again nailing the conversion.
Tafel Lager Griquas dominated the scrums and another monster shove led to Whitehead stretching the lead to 31-8 with his first penalty goal of the afternoon in the 53rd minute. On the hour-mark, their indiscipline resurfaced with lock Adre Smith, try-scorer Qoma and replacement hooker HJ Luus all seeing yellow.
A much-needed try by Reniel Hugo got the ball rolling for the Cell C Sharks only for a penalty to allow Whitehead to slow things down and make it 34-13 with 11 minutes to go. Yaw Penxe scored from the restart and replacement flank Thembelani Bholi went over for the four-try bonus point in the 77th minute, but it was too little too late as Tafel Lager Griquas - who’d banked a final three points via Whitehead in between those tries - came away with the win.
Cell C Sharks 27 (8) – Tries: Mpilo Gumede, Reniel Hugo, Yaw Penxe, Thembelani Bholi. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2). Penalty goal: Bosch.
Tafel Lager Griquas 37 (21) – Tries: Daniel Kasende, Janco Uys, Ederies Arendse, Sibabalo Qoma. Conversions: George Whitehead (4). Penalty goals: Whitehead (3).