The Cell C Sharks rebounded after last week’s defeat against the Vodacom Bulls to secure a valuable win against the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, while the Airlink Pumas needed a last-gasp penalty goal to edge DHL Western Province in a fiercely contested match in Nelspruit.
The Vodacom Bulls continued their mini-resurgence when they downed the Fidelity ADT Lions in Pretoria on Saturday. Windhoek Draught Griquas – who put six tries past the NovaVit Griffons – were the only side to claim a bonus-point victory in the seventh round.
The Airlink Pumas (29 points) and Toyota Cheetahs (26) are ahead of the chasing pack at the halfway stage of the tournament. Only three log points separate the defending champions and the men from Bloemfontein. The gap between the second-placed Toyota Cheetahs and the third-placed Cell C Sharks is a more substantial seven points.
The Cell C Sharks and fourth-placed Windhoek Draught Griquas have both accumulated 19 points after seven rounds, and as few as five log points separate the third- and seven-placed teams, with the Vodacom Bulls fifth on 17, DHL WP sixth on 16 and the Fidelity ADT Lions seventh on 14. The scrap for semi-final places should intensify over the next few weeks.
Four matches were played in the Currie Cup First Division and Mzansi Challenge on Saturday. Eastern Province beat Border Bulldogs 43-27 in the Eastern Cape derby staged in East London; SWD Eagles claimed a valuable 33-25 win over the Leopards in Potchefstroom; and the Valke were too strong for the Boland Kavaliers in their 31-22 victory in Kempton Park. Meanwhile, the San Clemente Rhinos surprised with a 25-24 win over the Windhoek Draught Welwitchias in the Namibian capital.
Cell C Sharks claim big scalp in Bloem
The Cell C Sharks hung on for a 24-17 victory against the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Friday in a match the hosts were expected to dominate and claim five log points, but on the day, the visitors were the more clinical of the two teams.
The KwaZulu-Natalians scored two converted tries, as well as a penalty goal, to take a 17-0 lead into half-time. Right before the break, the Toyota Cheetahs were reduced to 14 men after No 8 Jeandré Rudolph was shown a yellow card.
A strong fightback resulted in two tries for the hosts. The Cell C Sharks regained control in the final quarter, when replacement lock Marco de Witt scored the team’s third try.
The Toyota Cheetahs scored via reserve hooker Louis van der Westhuizen in the 75th minute to secure a bonus point for losing by seven or fewer points.
Toyota Cheetahs 17 (0) – Tries: Sibabalo Qoma, Gideon van der Merwe, Louis van der Westhuizen. Conversion: Ruan Pienaar.
Cell C Sharks 24 (17) – Tries: Tino Maversere, Fez Mbatha, Marco de Witt. Conversions: Lionel Cronjé (3). Penalty goal: Cronjé.
Thomson denies DHL WP at death
Replacement flyhalf Brandon Thomson slotted a late penalty goal to clinch a 25-24 win for the Airlink Pumas against DHL Western Province in Nelspruit on Friday.
The visitors started the game in Mpumalanga in impressive fashion. Fullback Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu contributed a try, two conversions and a penalty goal – and at one stage, DHL WP were the favourites to take a lead into half-time.
The defending champions refused to be outdone on their home turf, though. Corné Fourie scored two of the Airlink Pumas’ three tries in the first half, and as a result, the hosts enjoyed a slender 19-17 advantage at the break.
DHL WP had an opportunity to regain the lead shortly after half-time when two members of the opposition – Giovan Snyman and Stefan Coetzee – were sent to the sin bin. The Airlink Pumas managed to survive the period of sanction, though, without conceding any points.
The visitors scored a try via winger Luke Burger in the dying stages, and Feinberg-Mngomezulu added the extras to give his team the lead.
But there was to be more drama, as Louw Nel was shown a yellow card in the 77th minute, and the hosts were handed the chance to win the game. Thomson stepped up to kick the penalty goal and bank an important victory.
Airlink Pumas 25 (19) – Tries: Corné Fourie (2), Stefan Coetzee. Conversions: Tinus de Beer (2). Penalty goal: Brandon Thomson.
DHL WP 24 (17) – Tries: Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Jarrod Taylor, Luke Burger. Conversions: Feinberg-Mngomezulu (3). Penalty goal: Feinberg-Mngomezulu.
Steyn puts boot into Fidelity ADT Lions
Morné Steyn contributed 15 points in the Vodacom Bulls 30-19 win against the Fidelity ADT Lions at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Steyn converted first-half tries by Jan-Hendrik Wessels and Chris Smit, and slotted a penalty as well as drop goal to steer his team into a commanding 20-0 lead.
After half-time, however, the Vodacom Bulls were dealt two yellow cards – to Wessels and skipper Reinhardt Ludwig – and battled to maintain their charge.
The Fidelity ADT Lions scored 12 unanswered points before the hosts regained the initiative. Ludwig crossed the tryline in the 75th minute, while Steyn added the extras to put the result beyond doubt.
The visitors scored on the stroke full time, but the seven-pointer only served to add some respectability to the scoreline.
The result marks the Vodacom Bulls’ third consecutive win, and serves as a massive boost to their playoff prospects. While they lost momentum in the second half, and failed to claim the bonus point for four tries, they should be satisfied with the outcome.
The Fidelity ADT Lions will be desperate to end their three-game losing streak when they face the Airlink Pumas in the next round.
Vodacom Bulls 30 (20) – Tries: Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Chris Smit, Reinhardt Ludwig. Conversions: Morné Steyn (3). Penalty goals: Steyn (2). Drop goal: Steyn.
Fidelity ADT Lions 19 (0) – Tries: Michael van Vuuren (2), Rynhardt Jonker. Conversions: Tiaan Swanepoel (2).
Six-try Windhoek Draught Griquas sink NovaVit Griffons
Windhoek Draught Griquas powered their way to a 42-27 bonus-point victory over the NovaVit Griffons in Kimberley on Saturday.
The hosts made an early statement when they scored three converted tries within the first 30 minutes. NovaVit Griffons hit back in the 36th minute – and trailed 21-8 at half-time – but could not stop Windhoek Draught Griquas from adding 14 points right after the break.
Windhoek Draught Griquas suffered a double setback thereafter, losing Kudzwai Dube and Rosko Specman to yellow cards within a five-minute period. While the bout of ill-discipline didn’t cost the hosts the match, it did provide NovaVit Griffons with an opportunity to build momentum and to claim a four-try bonus point.
With this result, Windhoek Draught Griquas have moved up to fourth place in the Currie Cup Premier Division standings. NovaVit Griffons remain at the foot of the log.
Windhoek Draught Griquas 42 (21) – Tries. Tertius Kruger, Johan Mulder, Niel Otto, Stephan Smit, Rosko Specman, George Whitehead. Conversions: Eddie Fouché (6).
NovaVit Griffons 27 (8) – Tries: Dandre Delport, Jean-Jacques Pretorius, HP van Schoor (2). Conversions: Duan Pretorius (2). Penalty goal: Jaywinn Juries.