Bulls edge out Western Province in thriller
October 2, 2010
The Sharks' Odwa Ndungane touches down for his second try during his side's victory over the Leopards in Durban © Getty Images
The Blue Bulls kept their hopes of a home semi-final in this year's Currie Cup alive with a thrilling 36-32 victory over rivals Western Province at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The Blue Bulls' victory saw them close to within two points of second-placed Province with just one round of the regular season remaining. And WP must now beat the league-leading Sharks in their next outing to be assured of a home draw in the final four. The Bulls' eighth win of the campaign also ensure the Sharks will have home advantage in the season finale should they come through their semi-final clash.
The Blue Bulls, last year's winners, trailed the hosts 16-3 late in the first half thanks largely to a try from WP centre Juan de Jongh and the outlook was bleak when flanker Dewald Potgieter was sin-binned for tripping winger Gio Aplon. But the home side rallied and a try from Okkie Kruger was followed by a pivotal yellow card for WP's Jean de Villiers following a high tackle on Potgieter. The lead changed hands when centre Stefan Watermeyer scored his side's second try soon after and another from fullback Zane Kirchner cemented their advantage. A try from Aplon brought the visitors back into the contest but the boot of Jacques-Louis Potgieter - who finished the game with 18 points - carried the Bulls to a valuable victory.
Ashley Johnson starred for Free State Cheetahs as they secured a tense 43-37 win over the Golden Lions in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Johnson scored two tries - one of which was a remarkable individual effort - to boost his hopes of a call-up to the South Africa squad for the end-of-year tour as well as sealing a crucial win for the Cheetahs. The Lions stayed in the game thanks to some superb kicking from fly-half Elton Jantjies, who succeeded with all seven of his attempts at goal. His opposite number, Louis Strydom, could only land four from eight.
The victory opens the Cheetahs' path into the semi-finals, with an away victory over the struggling Leopards all they require to finish in the top four. While the Lions' semi-final hopes are all but over.
The game swung back and forth, with the lead exchanging hands regularly, until Johnson's decisive try in the 54th minute - a wonderful burst of pace before he chipped the ball forward and re-gathered to touchdown and put the Cheetahs 28-20 ahead.
From there the Cheetahs never surrendered their advantage as prop WP Nel and wing Phillip Snyman crossed. The Lions refused to relent but Edgar Marutlulle's try and the boot of Jantjes was not enough to overhaul the Cheetahs.
The Sharks booked a home semi-final with a 63-6 mauling of the lowly Leopards in their clash in Durban on Friday. The hosts nine-try victory took them nine points clear at the top of the table with just one round of the regular season remaining and as a result only second-placed Western Province - who tackle the third-placed Blue Bulls on Saturday - able to pip them to top spot and with it possible home advantage in the final. However, to keep their dreams of a home final alive, Western Province will also have to overcome the Sharks next weekend.
Keegan Daniel, Jannie du Plessis and Odwa Ndungane all grabbed two tries while Louis Ludik, Lwazi Mvovo and Eugene van Staden also weighed in with five-pointers. Andre Pretorius slotted six conversions with Patrick Lambie adding the extras for the final three tries. Clayton Durand kicked two penalties for the visitors in what was otherwise one-way traffic at Absa Stadium.
Elsewhere, the Griquas remain in the hunt for a semi-final berth following a thumping 61-31 victory over the Pumas in Witbank. Two tries from Bjorn Basson and further scores from Barry Geel, Naas Olivier, Riaan Viljoen, Rocco Jansen, Ryno Barnes, Sarel Pretorius and Wesley Wilkins powered them to the win with all eyes now on the Cheetahs' clash with the Lions later in the day.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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
Following a weekend where Wales suffered more heartbreak against Australia and the Aviva Premiership showed its class, the Monday Maul looks back at some of the key talking points