The Xerox Golden Lions reigned over the Vodacom Blue Bulls in their ABSA Currie Cup derby on Saturday evening at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria thanks to a thrilling 36 / 28 win in their Top of the Table clash.
Johan Ackermann’s outfit consolidated their position on the Top of the Premier Division standings and at the same time opened up a 4 point lead over their Northern neighbours, who suffered their 1st defeat of the campaign.
Last year’s winners, DHL Western Province, strengthened their grip on 3rd place with a gritty 37 / 27 away win over the Cell C Sharks in Durban. Elsewhere, the ORC Griquas and the Eastern Province Kings scored their 1st wins of the competition.
In Kimberley, the Griquas prevailed 32 / 15 over the Steval Pumas while a 14-man EP Kings side defeated the Toyota Free State Cheetahs by 32 / 24 at home in Port Elizabeth.
With just 4 Rounds of ordinary league action remaining before the play-off’s, the Xerox Golden Lions are leading the race for semi-final places. They have 29 Log points, followed by the Vodacom Blue Bulls (25), DHL Western Province (20), Cell C Sharks (13), Toyota Free State Cheetahs (12), Steval Pumas (9), Eastern Province Kings (7) and ORC Griquas (6).
Vodacom Blue Bulls (7) 28 / 36 (30) Xerox Golden Lions:
Flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff kicked 21 points to steer the Xerox Golden Lions to a thrilling 36 / 28 win over the Vodacom Blue Bulls in their ABSA Currie Cup fixture on Saturday evening at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. The Top of the table clash saw the reuniting of centres Jan Serfontein and Dries Swanepoel for the Blue Bulls – the duo last played together while at school at Grey College in Bloemfontein.
The Golden Lions ran rampant in the 1st half as both teams tried to implement their running game plans. Winger Courtnall Skosan got their 1st try within 3 minutes, when he collected Boshoff’s cross kick. Springbok prop Dean Greyling was made to sweat in his 50th ABSA Currie Cup match as the Golden Lions dominated the scrums.
Barging lock Franco Mostert, with a try next to the poles, wing Ruan Combrinck (intercept try) and the accurate boot of Boshoff – on target with all of his kicks at goal, including a drop goal – gave the Golden Lions a stunning 30 / 0 lead just before halftime. The home team were finally awarded for their efforts when wing Jamba Ulengo raced away to score in the corner, while flyhalf Tian Schoeman added the conversion to cut the halftime deficit to 7 / 30.
No 8 Arno Botha crashed over for a try as the Blue Bulls finally found their groove in the 2nd half. Replacement flanker Deon Stegmann was dragged over the tryline for another 5-pointer, while Ulengo bagged his 2nd try of the match (the Blue Bulls’ 4th try) for a valuable bonus point. However, Boshoff put the game out of reach with a penalty kick in the 78th minute.
It was a classic game of “2 halves”, the 1st half belonging to the Golden Lions and the 2nd half belonging to the Blue Bulls.
It was a thrilling game, worthy ofthe history ofthe ABSA Currie Cup.
Vodacom Blue Bulls:
- Tries: Jamba Ulengo (2), Arno Botha (1), Deon Stegmann (1)
- Conversions: Tian Schoeman (4)
Xerox Golden Lions:
- Tries: Courtnall Skosan (1), Franco Mostert (1), Ruan Combrinck (1)
- Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (3)
- Penalties: Marnitz Boshoff (4)
- Drop Goal: Marnitz Boshoff (1)
Cell C Sharks (17) 27 / 37 (10) DHL Western Province:
It was an excellent result for DHL Western Province, with debutant starter Robert du Preez – a late replacement for Kurt Coleman – contributing 14 points and new skipper Nic Groom giving his young side plenty of direction from the base of the scrum.
Flying winger Seabelo Senatla scored a 7th minute try and 1st-time starter Robert du Preez slotted a brilliant touchline conversion and a penalty for the visitors’ points in the 1st half. Former WP stalwart Joe Pietersen landed 3 penalties and converted midfielder André Esterhuizen’s try to hand the Cell C Sharks a 17 / 10 halftime lead.
Province needed a strong start to the 2nd half to rub out that 7-point deficit and they got what they wanted when Rynhardt Elstadt forced his way over from close range, Du Preez converted to make it 17 / 17 after 43 minutes. Birthday boy Dillyn Leyds was the next try-scorer for WP, before replacement hooker Bongi Mbonambi scored with his 1st touch of the ball.
Du Preez added the extras to make it 31 / 20 – crucially, also securing the bonus point for the visitors. He later slotted another penalty to make it 34 / 20 with 23 minutes left, before the Sharks hit back with a try via Odwa Ndungane. WP Replacement flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis landed a 78th minute penalty to seal the win.
Cell C Sharks:
- Tries: André Esterhuizen (1), Odwa Ndungane (1)
- Conversions: Joe Pietersen (1)
- Penalties: Joe Pietersen (5)
DHL Western Province:
- Tries: Seabelo Senatla (1), Rynhardt Elstadt (1), Dillyn Leyds (1), Bongi Mbonambi (1)
- Conversions: Robert du Preez (4)
- Penalties: Robert du Preez (2), Demetri Catrakilis (1)
ORC Griquas (15) 32 / 15 (3) Steval Pumas:
ORC Griquas led 15 / 3 at the halftime break in Kimberley and they scored 4 tries in total to help them open their win account with a bonus point victory.
The Steval Pumas, who have enjoyed 3 wins in Kimberley in either the ABSA Currie Cup or Vodacom Cup since 2011, were the pre-game favourites based on form as the Griquas were yet to make any impression in the competition. But as the Griquas have shown so often in the past, they are at their most dangerous with their backs against the wall.
Both Griquas 1st-half tries by No 8 Carel Greeff, came from Pumas errors. With more than half an hour remaining, Griquas were in command and 25 / 3 ahead after a penalty by Clinton Swart and a 3rd converted try, this time by winger Jaquin Jansen. The Pumas rallied back with tries through flanker Marnus Schoeman and winger Rosco Speckman to make the scoreboard more respectable.
- Tries: Carel Greeff (2), Jaquin Jansen (1), Jonathan Janse van Rensburg (1)
- Conversions: Clinton Swart (3)
- Penalties: Clinton Swart (2)
- Tries: Marnus Schoeman (1), Rosco Speckman (1)
- Conversions: Justin van Staden (1)
- Penalties: Justin van Staden (1)
Eastern Province Kings (16) 32 / 24 (19) Toyota Free State Cheetahs:
The EP Kings bagged their 1st win of the season with a gutsy 32 / 24 win over the Toyota Free State Cheetahs, after trailing by 3 points in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
Reduced to 14 men soon after the start of the 2nd half, the EP Kings fought bravely despite the numerical disadvantage to register a well-earned triumph. They had gone 5 matches without a win until this clash, but they eventually had something to celebrate against a Free State Cheetahs side which made far too many mistakes on the night.
Scott van Breda kicked 2 conversions and 6 penalties for a huge contribution in the EP Kings’ much needed 1st win. Centre JP du Plessis was shown a Red Card for throwing a punch in the 45th minute. Former EP Kings stalwart Sergeal Petersen scored a bonus point try for the Free State Cheetahs with 2 minutes remaining, but it was not enough to deny the home team their deserved 1st win.
Eastern Province Kings:
- Tries: Luther Obi (1), Siyanda Grey (1)
- Conversions: Scott van Breda (2)
- Penalties: Scott van Breda (6)
Toyota Free State Cheetahs:
- Tries: Gerhard Olivier (1), Shaun Venter (1), Clayton Blommetjies (1), Sergeal Petersen (1)
- Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (2)