Defending SuperSport Rugby Challenge champions, the iSG Pumas, former champions, DHL Western Province and runners up in 2017 and 2018, Tafel Lager Griquas, all remain on track to repeat their previous heroics after good wins this weekend.
The three heavyweights in this exciting tournament, which saw an average of 70 tries per weekend in the first month, are the only undefeated teams left after four rounds of action and look set to again be involved in the play-offs next month.
The iSG Pumas (beat the Xerox Golden Lions XV 51-33 in Johannesburg) and Tafel Lager Griquas (beat the Vodacom Blue Bulls 38-17 in Kimberley, remain the top teams in the North Section, while DHL Western Province (beat the Zimbabwe Academy 33-13 in Cape Town) are opening up a huge lead in the South Section.
The Sunday Rugby Festival, held at Impala Rugby Club in Rustenburg, again delivered two massively competitive matches, with the Down Touch Griffons downing the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias by 34-24, and the Valke claiming a first win the competition by beating the Leopards 52-50. In this match, both Edmund Rheeder and Eugene Hare scored hat-tricks for the North West team.
Tafel Lager Griquas top the log with a full house of 20 points, but only edge the iSG Pumas (20 log points) due to a better points’ difference. The Kimberley side (+109) are sitting pretty, but the defending champs (+43) will push hard to overhaul them.
They play each other next week in what will be a repeat of last year’s final and could end up determining which team take the top spot on the log.
The iSG Pumas raced away to a 27-7 lead at halftime against their hosts at Emirates Airline Park, and never looked back, while in Kimberley, the home side outscored their visitors from Pretoria by five tries to two at Tafel Lager Park.
The Xerox Golden Lions XV (16 log points) are still in touch, but the Vodacom Blue Bulls (10) and Down Touch Griffons (10) will need a massive effort if they want to remain contenders for the top spot.
It looks like the Leopards, Valke and Windhoek Draught Welwitschias will be bridesmaids again, but they can still play a huge role in the tournament by tripping up one of the front runners.
DHL Western Province (20 log points) look unstoppable at the moment as they outplayed Zimbabwe Academy to claim a fourth full house of log points, but Boland (15 log points) clearly have their own ambitions this year.
The Cavaliers had their flags lowered for the first time in Durban on Friday evening when the Cell C Sharks XV (11 log points) kicked a penalty goal after the hooter to win this exciting encounter by 29-28.
The Toyota Free State Cheetahs XV (15 log points) have the advantage of players coming back into the squad after their Guinness PRO14 campaign and they showed no mercy to SWD in Bloemfontein on Saturday, beating them 64-17. Jasper Wiese, one of those who played in the European showpiece earlier in the season, bagged three tries in the romp.
Multisure EP Elephants and Border will be the spoilers for the remainder of the tournament and will be out to trip up those ahead of them on the log. They clashed in Port Elizabeth earlier this afternoon and the home side came up tops 52-3.
Zimbabwe Academy remain the only winless and prop up the log in the South.
The SuperSport Rugby Challenge log can be viewed here:https://www.springboks.rugby/tournaments/league?lid=9
Results and scorers (click on score for match report):
Tafel Lager Griquas – Tries: Ederies Arendse (2), AJ le Roux, Andre Swarts, Sias Koen. Conversions: George Whitehead (5). Penalty goal: Whitehead.
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Travis Ismaiel, JT Jackson. Conversions: Fiela Boshoff (2). Penalty goal: Jackson.
Xerox Golden Lions XV – Tries: Reuben Schoeman, Sylvian Mahuza, Prince Nkabinde, Jan-Louis la Grange, Pieter Jansen. Conversions: Dillon Smit, Mahuza (2), Ruan Combrinck.
iSG Pumas – Tries: Neil Maritz (2), Alwayno Visagie (2), Phumzile Maqondwana, Chris Smith. Conversions: Smith (4). Penalty goals: Smith (2).
Down Touch Griffons – Tries: Ezrick Alexander, Domenic Smit, Jean Pretorius, Niell Stannard, Duan Pretorius. Conversions: Jaywinn Juries (3). Penalty goal: Danrich Visagie.
Windhoek Draught Welwitschias – Tries: Johannes Tromp, AJ de Klerk, Louis van der Westhuizen. Conversions: Cliven Loubser (3). Penalty goal: Loubser.
Leopards – Tries: Eugene Hare (3), Edmund Rheeder (3), Schalk Hugo, Andre Fouche. Conversions: Hugo (5).
Valke – Tries: Rodney Damons (2), Coert Cronje, Friedle Olivier, Andrew van Wyk (2), Errol Jaggers. Conversions: Anrich Richter (4), Andre du Plessis (3). Penalty goal: Richter.
DHL Western Province – Tries: Godlen Masimla (2), Chad Solomon, Johan du Toit, Edwill van Der Merwe. Conversions: Abner van Reenen (4).
Zimbabwe Academy – Try: Jafnos Chiwanza. Conversion: Brendon Mandivenga. Penalty goals: Mandivenga (2).
Toyota Free State Cheetahs XV – Tries: Jasper Wiese (3), Adriaan Carelse, Boan Venter, Darren Adonis, Jamba Ulengo, Keanen Murray, Niell Jordaan, Carel Coetzee. Conversions: Ernst Stapelberg (6), Lubabalo Dobela.
SWD Eagles – Tries: Leighton Eksteen, Shario Rosenkrantz. Conversions: Divan Nel (2). Penalty goal: Nel.
Cell C Sharks XV – Tries: Penalty Try, Sicelo Tole, Lwazi Mvovo, Rhyno Smith. Conversions: Smith (2). Penalty goal: Smith.
Boland – Tries: Shilton van Wyk, Valentino Wellman, Shirwin Cupido. Conversions: Garrick Mattheus (2). Penalty goals: Mattheus (3).
Multisure EP Elephants – Tries: Tries: Rynhard van Wyk, Zingisa April (2), Ntabeni Dukisa, Athenkosi Mayinye, Mikey Botha (2), Diego Williams. Conversions: Ntabeni Dukisa (6).
Border – Penalty goal: Aphiwe Stimele.
Top points’ scorers:
52: JT Jackson (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Abner van Reenen (DHL Western Province)
46: George Whitehead (Tafel Lager Griquas)
44: Ernst Stapelberg (Toyota Free State Cheetahs XV)
42: Chris Smith (iSG Pumas), Rhyno Smith (Cell C Sharks XV)
6: Jamba Ulengo (Toyota Free State XV)
5: Marquit September (SWD Eagles), Edwill van der Merwe (DHL Western Province), Jo-Hanko de Villiers (Xerox Golden Lions XV)