The Sharks surged back to the top of the Absa Currie Cup log with a memorable 34-25 victory over the Vodacom Blue Bulls in a pulsating clash at Durban’s Absa Stadium on Saturday evening. The Durbanites, with 38 points from 10 matches, are now three points ahead of the second-placed Vodacom Blue Bulls on the Absa Currie Cup log after an eventful weekend’s action.
In other fixtures on Saturday, Vodacom Western Province kept their faint semifinal chances alive with a 35-17 win over the Vodacom Cheetahs and the Wildeklawer Griquas moved further away from the bottom of the log with a 48-22 win over the Boland Cavaliers. On Friday night, the Xerox Lions secured fourth position on the log with an 83-14 massacre of the Valke in Brakpan.
But it was the Sharks who found themselves in a real dog-fight at the Absa Stadium this weekend. The home team led 10-7 at half-time – but had to put up with a vintage second-half display from the Bulls, who welcomed back skipper Victor Matfield and another four Tri-Nations Boks for this crucial clash.
Afterwards, Matfield admitted: “We certainly showed tonight that South Africans can carry the ball and defend. It was a hard game, but it’s nice to be back in the Currie Cup – a tournament which is getting more exciting with each passing week.”
Sharks skipper Johann Muller – who made his return to action after an injury lay-off – was understandably a happy man and found it hard to contain his delight at the final whistle.
“We’re ecstatic to have got five points against a fantastic team,” admitted Muller.
“We knew it would be a tough game,” he added. “Wikus (van Heerden) and Deon (Stegmann) made life difficult for us on the ground and we let ourselves down in the first 20 minutes. (But) after that we settled down nicely and even though they missed a few kicks and dropped a few balls, we’ll take the points.”
The Vodacom Blue Bulls fought their way to a 31-23 (halftime 11-9) victory over the defending champion Free State Cheetahs in an ABSA Currie Cup match in Pretoria on Saturday evening.The home team outscored the visitors by three tries to two, and the lead changed hands three times, but the deciding factor in this encounter was the superiority of the Bulls’ defensive lineout which devalued the quality of the visitors’ possession, and gave the Pretoria outfit free license in the territorial stakes.
Bulls flyhalf Morne Steyn’s 16-point contribution, by means of four penalties and a pair of conversions, complemented the tries scored by winger Akona Ndungane, centre Wynand Olivier, and lock Danie Rossouw.
Similarly, Cheetahs flyhalf Chris Rossouw racked up 13 points with his boot – two conversions and a trio of penalties – as the visitors managed a brace of tries through wing Jongi Nokwe and captain Hendro Scholtz.
A 62-metre penalty-kick by Wildeklawer Griquas fullback Riaan Viljoen gave the home team a 21-20 (halftime 12-6) victory over Vodacom Western Province in an exciting Absa Currie Cup match in Kimberley on Saturday afternoon.The result marks the Kimberley team’s first victory of the season, and their desperate desire for a win was clearly visible in the number of kamikaze tackles that were meted out during the course of play.
Coach Dawie Theron’s charges complemented their physicality in the tackle with deft handling and strong, straight-running off the ball in a match which saw the lead change hands five times.
Griquas’ regular kicking ace, flyhalf Conrad Barnard missed four of five attempts at goal – converting hooker James van der Walt’s try after skewing an earlier conversion of wing Gavin Passens’ score – but fortunately for the home team, Viljoen was ready to step into the breach by slotting all three of his penalty-kicks.
The Xerox Lions produced a splendid display of running rugby to wallop the Boland Cavaliers 57-17 (half-time 24-10) in a one-sided ABSA Currie Cup game at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday.This was by far the best showing this season by last year’s loosing finalists and they announced their return to form in emphatic style with clinical execution of pattern and game plan.
The visitors had momentarily stunned the home team when in the tenth minute, the gangly Bradley Mockford intercepted a pass on his own ten metre line and off-loaded in the tackle to promising eigthman Dries van Schalkwyk, who sprinted 40m to dot down under the poles.
The Lions hit back shortly afterwards however, through a penalty by the mercurial fullback Earl Rose, who then showed a touch of magic with a prodigious side step, breaching the advancing defence to touch down under the poles, allowing the Lions to nudge into the lead.
Coach Eugene Eloff had indicated that a lot of time had been dedicated to working on finishing off moves during the week and he will be glad that that investment paid dividends.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls surged to the top of the log when they overpowered the Sharks to win 35-14 (half-time 22-9) in a lively ABSA Currie Cup game at Loftus Versveld on Saturday. The Sharks had been disrupted before kick by the withdrawal of flyhalf Brad Barrit who failed a late fitness test. He was replaced by Monty Dumond who moved from the wing, with Chris Jordaan coming of the bench onto the right wing.
The Bulls too were slightly thrown off balance when they received an early shock with Derick Kuün being awarded a yellow card for putting the boot to an opponent’s head with only 40 seconds on the clock.
However, this was to no real detriment to the Bulls as they scored the first try of the match when fullback Tiger Mangweni went over in the left corner after Wynand Olivier broke the line in the seventh minute following a move from a 22 drop-out.
Vodacom Western Province stumbled and fumbled their way to a 9-3 (halftime 6-0) victory over the Free State Cheetahs in a dreary ABSA Currie Cup match in Cape Town on Saturday afternoon.Persistent rain earlier in the day made for waterlogged conditions and sporadic showers during the match only added to the tally of handling errors.
Flyhalf Willem de Waal again carried the load for Western Province, scoring all his team’s points with three successful penalty-kicks. The Cheetahs managed to goal a single penalty in three attempts by flyhalf Chris Rossouw.
The highlight of a tiresome match was the home team’s accurate lineout, as Western Province won 14 of 18 attempts at the set piece. The Cheetahs only claimed six of their 10 lineout throws, thanks in most part to the spoiling work of WP locks Ross Skeate and Adriaan Fondse.
Earl Rose scored a hat-trick to help the Xerox Lions secure their first win of the season when they beat the Valke 35-23 (half-time 18-8) in an ABSA Currie Cup game at Coca-Cola Park on Friday.
The game played at the stadium formerly known as Ellis Park, heralded the venue’s new name and the Lions administration will be hoping that the lucrative change of name deal will bring with it fortunes on the field as well.
The hosts bolted out of the blocks, playing at break-neck intensity from kick off and were immediately rewarded with a try in the second minute when eigthman Wilhelm Koch picked up a loose ball before off-loading to lock-cum-flank Franco van der Merwe who raced in from the 22m line.
The Lions pace characteristically fizzled out very quickly while the Valke showed they belong at this level and the final score reflects unfairly on the performance of the men from the East Rand.