In-form Griquas extend unbeaten run
July 29, 2009
Naas Olivier starred for the Griquas in Johannesburg © Getty Images
The Griquas continued their stunning early season form in Johannesburg on Friday, winning their fourth game of the Currie Cup season 23-19 against the second-placed Golden Lions.
The only unbeaten side in the tournament, the Griquas raced in to a 20-7 half-time lead thanks to tries from fly-half Naas Olivier and centre Barry Geel, with their forward pack dominating the breakdown.
Olivier's try came after a fine breakout from their 22, with Herkie Kruger failing to deal with a grubber and allowing Olivier to kick the ball over the line and finish. Geel crossed soon after, following a concerted period of pressure in Lions' territory.
Alwyn Hollenbach rounded off an interception by Earl Rose to register the first points for the home side, but Olivier's boot extended the Griquas' lead before the break. Kruger drew the Lions back in to contention with three penalties, but their hopes were effectively ended when Walter Venter saw yellow for a late tackle.
Riaan Viljoen extended the visitors' lead, and while Kruger landed another penalty to set up a grandstand finish, the Griquas were good value for their latest victory.
In Bloemfontein, the Cheetahs' miserable season continued with a 21-12 loss to the Natal Sharks. In atrocious conditions, both sides made errors, Jacques-Louis Potgieter giving the Cheetahs an early lead with a penalty after the Sharks were guilty of shovelling the ball back through a scrum.
Rory Kockott drew the visitors level following a multiple-phase move that showed fine patience, and the Sharks scrum-half was on target with a stunning drop-goal to give his side the lead moments later.
Potgieter was the match of the Sharks man, though, landing two further penalties before the break with Kockott scoring one of his own for a half-time score of 9-9.
Kockott banged over another penalty ten minutes after the break, and was dead-eyed with two further efforts to open up a handy nine-point lead going in to the final quarter. Potgieter was again on target to draw the Cheetahs back to within a converted score as both sides struggled to eradicate their high penalty counts in tricky conditions.
However, replacement fly-half Monty Dumont sealed the game for the Sharks, hammering a penalty between the uprights from inside his own half as the final minutes ticked down.
Also on Friday, the Blue Bulls comfortably saw off the challenge of Boland Cavaliers 43-11 in Pretoria. Bulls fly-half Francois Brummer and his opposite number Elgar Watts traded penalties early on, with the first try coming following a yellow-card for Boland tight-head Jacobie Adriaanse.
With the man advantage, the Bulls attacked from the base of a scrum, the ball finding Gerhard van den Heever on the blindside to cross in the corner. Brummer converted from out wide before centre Jaco Pretorius rounded off a stunning break by Marius Delport to score his first Bulls Currie Cup try and put his side firmly in control at 17-3.
Van den Heever bagged his second of the night before the half-time whistle, again exploiting the space created by an attacking scrum. The Bulls had their fourth try only moments after the restart thanks to Flip van der Merwe, while Watts scored a second penalty for the increasingly ragged visitors. Gurthro Steenkamp rumbled over for the Bulls' fifth not long after and almost immediately after replacement fly-half Burton Francis was converting their sixth from Jacques Burger.
Boland had a consolation try before the end, but their evening was to end on a low as Delport scored the Bulls' seventh try to bring up their half-century.
Western Province skipper Luke Watson led from the front at Newlands, crossing for a hat-trick as his side defeated the Leopards 43-7. Province now move in to the top three of the table behind the Griquas and Blues Bulls, their only blemish so far this season coming against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.
Willem De Waal, superb all season for the Cape Town side, finished with a personal haul of 18 points including a try, penalty and five conversions. On the night there were also tries for Gio Aplon, Pieter Louw and the returning Joe Pietersen as 10,000 fans celebrated their team's first bonus-point win of the season.
Deon van Rensburg crossed for the Leopards' only try on an evening when they looked outclassed by their big-hitting opponents.
"If I miss the first kick of the match, it shouldn't have any impact on the second. They are different entities." Tom Hamilton talks to Northampton Saints' Stephen Myler
It's time for those running Welsh rugby to stop trying to prevent its players heading to France and to start planning a future without them, writes Martin Williamson
Paul Eddison explains how the French sold English clubs down the river and why their domestic game will go from strength to strength
'Nothing can prepare you for the noise of the Millennium Stadium though, you just can't hear anything." Tom Hamilton talks to Cory Allen