DHL Western Province booked the first Currie Cup home semi-final and took a big leap toward a top-of-the-table finish as they outplayed the Cell C Sharks 50-28 in a fine performance on Saturday to remain the only unbeaten team.
The defeat for the Durbanites – which marked their first in the 2018 tournament, sponsored by Nashua and DirectAxis Financial Services – left them in second place on the standings with 21 points.
While the KwaZulu-Natalians are still in a strong position to claim the other home semi-final, a defeat without a bonus point in their final pool match could see the Vodacom Blue Bulls or Xerox Golden Lions leap into second place if they win their respective matches with bonus points.
With DHL Western Province and the Cell C Sharks guaranteed of their semi-final spots, the battle for the two remaining places will be between the Vodacom Blue Bulls, Xerox Golden Lions and iCOLLEGE Pumas.
The defending Currie Cup champions were in superb form in front of their home crowd at DHL Newlands as they delivered a balanced performance on attack and defence, and among their forwards and backs to outplay the Cell C Sharks.
The visitors struck first in the opening seconds with a try by Marius Louw, but the hosts stole the show as the half progressed and earned their bonus-point try by the 25th minute for a 31-7 lead.
The Cell C Sharks fought back with intent and the rewards followed as they forced their way over the tryline twice before the break and again nine minutes after play resumed to reduce their deficit to three points.
This, however, proved to be their last points of the match, while the hosts, in turn, made good use of their try-scoring chances, which saw them touch down seven times in total.
SP Marais proved to be a key figure for the home side as he scored a try, six conversions and a penalty goal for a rewarding 20 points. The Currie Cup Premier Division teams will have a well-earned rest next week, with the final pool round playing out in two weeks.
Currie Cup Round 7 results and scorers (click on the hyperlink for the full scoresheet):
DHL Western Province – Tries: Jaco Coetzee, SP Marais, Ruhan Nel, Dillyn Leyds, Sergeal Petersen, JJ Engelbrecht, Chad Solomon. Conversions: SP Marais (6). Penalty Goal: SP Marais.
Cell C Sharks Tries: Marius Louw, Tyler Paul, Gideon Koegelenberg, Aphelele Fassi. Conversions: Robert du Preez (4).
Currie Cup First Division
In the Currie Cup First Division – also sponsored by DirectAxis Financial Services and Nashua – the Hino Valke claimed the top spot on the log after a registering a massive 101-29 victory against Eastern Province, while the Leopards succumbed to their first defeat.
Defending champions, the Down Touch Griffons, created the upset of the weekend on Saturday as they powered their way to a 40-29 victory in Welkom in a repeat of last year’s final in Welkom, with Barend Potgieter and Tertius Maarman contributing four of their six tries. The win was invaluable for the hosts, who entered the match with only one win in four outings, as it reignited their semi-final hopes, while the defeat for the Leopards cost them the top spot on the standings.
The SWD Eagles, who are also certain to finish in the top four, ensured that they remained in a solid position to secure a home semi-final as they registered a bonus-point 54-28 victory against the Boland Cavaliers in George in what marked the visitors’ final pool match. The Eagles worked their way to an encouraging 36-14 lead, which they built on in the second half to finish the match with seven tries.
The defeat for the Boland Cavaliers means their fate is out of their hands, as the winner of the Down Touch Griffons and Border Bulldogs clash next week could knock them out of the top four.
In Kempton Park, Etienne Taljaard scored a memorable four tries as the Hino Valke thumped Eastern Province 101-29 to finish the round in third place on the log. Such was the high quality of their attack they ran in a staggering 15 tries, while they limited the opposition to four.
Currie Cup First Division Round 6 results and scorers (click on the hyperlink for the full scoresheet):
Down Touch Griffons – Tries: Barend Potgieter (2), Cody-Anthony Basson, Tertius Maarman (2), Nkululeko Marwana. Conversions: Duan Pretoruis (5).
Leopards – Tries: Robert Hunt, Henro-Pierre Swart, Gerhard Nortier. Conversions: Schalk Hugo (3). Penalty Goal: Schalk Hugo.
SWD Eagles – Tries: Jacques Vermaak, Ruben Schoeman, Nicolaas Immelman, Marlo Weich, Leighton Eksteen, Janneman Stander, Kirsten Heyns. Conversions: Divan Nel (5). Penalty Goals: Divan Nel (3).
Boland Cavaliers – Tries: Tapiwa Tsomondo (2), Wayne Smith. Conversions: Elgar Watts, Jacquin Jansen. Penalty Goals: Damian Stevens, Elgar Watts (2).
Hino Valke – Tries: Marco Klopper, Sikhumbuzo Thabo Mabuza (2), Friedle Olivier (2), Etienne Taljaard (4), Lundi Ralarala, Coert Frederick Cronje (2), Andrew Volschenk, Martin Sithole, Andrew van Wyk. Conversions: Anrich Richter (11), Andries Truter.
Eastern Province – Tries: Anele Lungisa, Ruan Van Rensburg, Michael Makase, Ruben de Vos. Conversions: Ruben de Vos (3). Penalty Goals: Ruben de Vos.