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Currie Cup - Round 12 Review
Province hammer Griquas
Scrum.com
September 25, 2009
Griquas scrum-half Sarel Pretorius slides across the waterlogged pitch, Western Province v Griquas, Currie Cup, Newlands, Cape Town, September 26, 2009
Griquas scrum-half Sarel Pretorius takes a tumble in terrible conditions at Newlands © Getty Images
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Western Province continued their impressive 2009 Currie Cup form as they hammered early season pace-setters Griquas 43-3 at Newlands on Saturday.

In wet and blustery conditions Province coach Allister Coetzee will be delighted with the bonus point win with fullback Joe Pietersen contributing 21 points in the impressive win.

Pietersen was on song early for the home side, notching four penalties from five attempts at goal before Griquas had even managed to get themselves into the game. And Dawie Theron's side weren't helped when captain Jonathan Mokuena was sent to the sin-bin for a professional foul to put his side under further pressure.

WP scored their first try of the day through tighthead prop Brok Harris, using the numerical advantage of having Mokuena from the field and driving off a lineout to set up the front-row forward to crash over.

Mokuena's return to the field did little inspire his team either as fly-half Peter Grant cut the Griquas line before off-loading to Duane Vermeulen, who carried strongly before quick ball to the right saw Pietersen slide in at the corner.

WP's dominance escalated in the second-half as they had the advantage of the wind and the driving rain at their backs and it also saw the Currie Cup bow of the gifted Brumbies youngster Matt Toomua, who slotted in at fly-half.

The Cape side made short work of Griquas in the second stanza despite having hooker Tiaan Liebenberg sent to the sin-bin in the 48th minute as further tries from Vermeulen, Frikkie Welsh and flank Pieter Louw completed the five-try rout.

Griquas are in trouble though and for all of their early season promise could now fail to make the play-offs, their remaining two league games are against the Sharks and the Bulls.

The Bulls nearly let a convincing 20-3 lead slip to eventually keep out the Free State Cheetahs 30-27 in a pulsating game at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The Bulls 'machine' steamrollered their visitors in the first half getting their first try through wing Gerhard van der Heever, a grateful recipient of some dominant forward play by the Springbok-laced pack and duly converted by star fly-half Morne Steyn.

Cheetahs pivot Jacques-Louis Potgieter kept his side within range but when Deon Stegmann charged down his attempted clearance and Dewald Potgieter fell on the loose-ball to score the Bulls appeared on the cusp of running riot in Pretoria as they went into the break 23-10 in the lead. A moment of brilliance though saw Springbok Sevens star Fabian Juries hot-step his way through no fewer than nine tackles to keep the Cheetahs in the game as they trooped off for half-time.

A totally different Bulls side took to the field in second half though as the Cheetahs' elusive outside backs again found enough space to ensure a pulsating second stanza. Juries struck again just three minutes after the re-start and Potgieter's conversion meant the Cheetahs had clawed themselves back within six points of the hosts.

The Bulls managed to regroup and with Cheetahs No. 8 Ashley Johnson in the sin-bin, centre Wynand Olivier scythed through the Cheetahs line to score a converted try. The visitors, knowing that their play-off chances remain in the balance, proceeded to score 10 further points via a converted try from Lionel Mapoe and another Potgieter penalty, despite just having 14 men on the field.

The Free Staters now have to get 10 points from their remaining two fixtures and hope other results go their way to qualify for the semi-finals while the Bulls are looking more and more likely to travel to Cape Town for their semi-final after WP beat Griquas earlier in the day.

The Golden Lions were not in a charitable mood at Ellis Park on Saturday, running 13 tries past hapless Boland. With their semi-final hopes all but dead, the Johannesburg side ripped in to the basement boys and ensured another heavy loss, the scoredboard reading 88-15 at the close.

There were 11 try-scorers for the Lions, who temporarily moved in to fifth, with braces for No.8 Willem Alberts and replacement Walter Venter.

Fullback Alwyn Hollenbach, wing Dusty Noble, prop Gert Muller, centre Doppies la Grange, replacement Nico Luus, openside Derk Minnie, scrum-half Chris Jonck, lock Franco van der Merwe and skipper Cobus Grobelaar all chipped in for one of the simplest victories so far this season.

The Natal Sharks booked their place in the Currie Cup playoffs with a patchy 34-20 victory over the Leopards at a blustery Kings Park on Friday evening.

The table-topping hosts played some excellent rugby in the first half, particularly in the second quarter, and racked by five tries on their way to a healthy 27-10 lead at the interval. However, they performed poorly after the restart, registering just one more try, through Albert van der Berg, and allowed the Leopards into the game.

Indeed, had the visitors been a bit more clinical and not had a try incorrectly disallowed midway through the second half, they might well have pulled off a remarkable comeback.

The Leopards had actually started the brighter, too, and had an excellent opportunity to open the scoring but Clayton Durand squandered a kickable penalty four minutes in. The Sharks looked a little disjointed in the early exchanges but any time they did put some phases together the Leopards' defence was found wanting.

The opening try arrived three minutes after Duran's missed penalty, Luzuko Vulindlu barging his way over in the right corner after a crisp, cross-field passing move from the Sharks. Ryan Kankowski had played the killer pass on that occasion and he played a key role in his side's second try, which arrived at the midway point of the second half.

The impressive Alistair Hargreaves acted as the catalyst, spotting some space out wide which was clinically exploited by Kankowski, the No.8 drawing a couple of men towards him before leaving Lwazi Mvovo with a simple finish.

The Leopards were now reeling and conceded two more tries by the half hour, both of which were scored by Andries Strauss. The centre's first touchdown came courtesy of a clever kick forward by Juan Martin Hernandez, while the credit for his second score had to go to his midfield partner Waylon Murray, who had stretched the Leopards defence to breaking point with a scintillating run.

The Leopards finally got off the mark on 32 minutes when RW Kember intercepted a stray off-load from Hernandez before racing clear to score under the posts but the Sharks quickly reasserted their dominance and Jacques Botes crossed just before the break after some good work from Mvovo.

Their lead was just 17 points, though, as Hernandez had converted just one of their five tries. He did not get a chance to improve his kicking stats either as he was replaced early in the second half. The Argentine's depature coincided with a massive improvement in the Leopards' performance. However, they were denied a deserved try when Berndt Theissinger was incorrectly ruled to have been offside when he intecepted a loose pass in midfield.

Insult was added to injury moments later when Adi Jacobs, on as a replacement, broke through in midfield before putting van der Berg over under the sticks to put the game beyond the Leopards.

The visitors did reduce their arrears with a second intercept try, this time from Jovan Bowles, and a penalty from Jean Tiedt but they were ultimately unable to even secure a losing bonus point.

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