Griquas overhaul Sharks in thriller
July 11, 2010
John Mametsa bagged a brace for the Blue Bulls on Friday © Getty Images
Blue Bulls Free State Golden Lions Griquas Leopards Natal Sharks Pumas South Africa Western Province
The Griquas got their Currie Cup campaign off to an encouraging start by clawing back a big half-time deficit to defeat Natal Sharks 40-34 in Kimberley on Saturday.
Naas Olivier knocked over the opening points for the Griquas early on but the home side were unable to withstand the pressure placed on them by the Sharks, their defence being sucked in before Stefan Terblanche put Lwazi Mvovo in out wide. More territory quickly yielded a second for the visitors as fly-half Steve Meyer dived over from close range after a quick tap from No.8 Keegan Daniel.
The Griquas' pack forced an opening before the break with a powerful maul and hooker Ryno Barnes crashed over to bring his side within four points, only for a Rory Kockott penalty and a try to flanker Michael Rhodes to open up a big gap in the Sharks' favour. Blindside Jacques Botes saw yellow before half-time for the visitors and in his absence Griquas prop Stef Roberts was able to close the gap with a try just after the break.
The see-saw game continued when Griquas wing Bjorn Basson showed incredible pace to score from turnover ball inside his own 22, only for Mvovo to produce a great finish from within a tangle of bodies for his second. Two Olivier penalties put the Griquas back in charge before a quick-fire brace of tries, Basson's second individual effort and a debut try for flanker Wesley Wilkins, got the home side across the line. Patrick Cilliers scored a late consolation for the Sharks.
Western Province picked up a hard-fought away victory in their opening round game, defeating Free State Cheetahs 25-11 in Bloemfontein.
In a quiet opening it fell to Cheetahs pivot Louis Strydom to open the scoring with a penalty, which was quickly cancelled out by the boot of Willem de Waal. The Free State Stadium crowd had to wait until the half-hour mark for the first try of the game, and it went to home scrum-half Tewis de Bruyn after he latched onto fullback Hennie Daniller's pass from a chip 'n' chase.
Despite losing the first-half territorial battle de Waal added a second penalty and the visitors were able to use their new-found forward grunt to snatch a try before the break. Lock Adriaan Fondse was the man to profit, rounding of a multiple-phase drive close to the Free State line.
De Waal added two penalties in quick succession after the restart as the game returned to an arm-wrestle, with Strydom replying with his second kick as the hour mark loomed. Despite massive pressure on the Province line the home side were unable to find a killer blow in the closing moments, instead conceding the final points of the game to the boot of de Waal.
The Blues Bulls kicked off the defence of their title in fine style on Friday night, seeing off the challenge of the newly-promoted Pumas 38-15 at Loftus Versfeld.
The side from Pretoria are looking to complete back-to-back doubles after their counterparts, the Bulls, secured the Super 14 title for the second season in succession. Gary Botha returned to Currie Cup action at hooker and skippered the side, which also included Springboks Flip van der Merwe and Jaco van der Westhuyzen.
While the Pumas were on the board early thanks to Ricardo Croy's third-minute penalty, they were quickly on the back-foot as John Mametsa scored the first of the home side's six tries only two minutes later. Jacques-Louis Potgieter, who played against the Bulls in last season's final while with Free State, added the conversion.
Promising youngster Stefan Watermeyer bagged the home side's second after nine minutes and Mametsa's double arrived moments later. Dean Greyling and Stephan Dippenaar scored numbers four and five, with Tian Carel biting back for the Pumas just before the break.
Croy's conversion proved to be the last score for a lengthy period and the Bulls will be disappointed that they took their foot off the pedal. With the bonus-point wrapped up after only 22 minutes there was a genuine opportunity for a cricket score - one which was not taken.
Deon Stegmann finally broke the deadlock as the clock ticked towards the 70-minute mark. The Pumas showed further grit and determination before the close and bagged their second try through replacement Allistair Kettledas, although it was mere consolation.
Meanwhile, the Golden Lions began their campaign with a comfortable 43-13 victory over the Leopards in Phokeng. The Lions endured a miserable Super 14 campaign, losing all 13 games, but with Western Force coach John Mitchell at the helm and former All Black Carlos Spencer in charge of the backs, they had too much in reserve in week one.
Scrum-half Jano Vermaak was the inspiration for the visitors, scoring twice to lead the way for an inexperienced side. Centres Marius Delport and Waylon Murray, on Currie cup debut for his new side after a move from the Sharks, also scored tries while Jaco Taute wrapped up a comprehensive win in injury time. Skipper Wilhelm Koch and winger Deon Scholtz scored the home side's tries, but they crossed the line a comfortable second.
Proposals to remove promotion and relegation from the Aviva Premiership would be for the good of the game overall, argues John Taylor
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery