The Toyota Free State Cheetahs started their defence of the Currie Cup – presented by Nashua and Direct Axis – in spectacular fashion at home by beating the Cell C Sharks 47-12, while the Vodacom Blue Bulls showed they want to play in the finals in October again with a solid 51-45 away win over Tafel Lager Griquas. Meanwhile the Steval Pumas started in impressive fashion by beating the Xerox Golden Lions in Nelspruit to register a 43-36 win on Sunday.
The seventh team in the Premier Division, DHL Western Province, had a bye.
The lead in Nelspruit changed several times, but the final two scores were the telling ones for the home side. The Steval Pumas had a 24-17 lead at the break, but a try for Ashlon Davids 15 minutes from the end have them the lead. Two tries by the home side in the Mbombela Stadium, first by captain, Hennie Skorbinski, and a second one to Gerhard Smith, took the lead from 38-36 and then 43-36.
Twelve tries at Tafel Lager Park made the trip on Saturday night an entertaining one for the Kimberley folk. The match was a ding-dong affair, with the home side’s refusal to give up, keeping the home crowd on the edge of their seats. The Vodacom Blue Bulls seemed to have it won after two tries in as many minutes by Warrick Gelant and Andre Warner. Two tries by Enver Brandt, the second a spectacular effort from 50 meters out, saw the home side sniffing the win, but Travis Ismaiel sealed the deal with a late try.
On Friday, the Toyota Free State Cheetahs ran in six tries to claim a 47-12 win (halftime 17-7) over the Cell C Sharks in the opening match of the 2017 Currie Cup at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein.
After a disappointing Vodacom Super Rugby season, the Bloemfontein side turned on the heat to down the KwaZulu Natal counterparts in an enterprising encounter. The visitors were missing a host of front-line players, however the victory could be the tonic needed to spark the Free State side back to life after a tough start to the year.
Summary of final results and scorers in Round One:
Steval Pumas 43 (24), Xerox Golden Lions 36 (17)
Steval Pumas – Tries: Francois Kleinhans, Nardus Van der Walt, Justin Van Staden, Hennie Skorbinski, Gerhard Smith (2). Conversions: Van Staden (5). Penalty: Van Staden.
Xerox Golden Lions – Tries: Shaun Reynolds, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Stokkies Hanekom, Ashlon Davids, Bradley Thain. Conversions: Reynolds (4). Penalty: Reynolds.
Tafel Lager Griquas 45 (20), Vodacom Blue Bulls 51 (26)
Tafel Lager Griquas – Tries: Ederies Arendse, Ever Brandt (2), Christiaan Meyer, Jono Janse van Rensburg. Conversions: Andre Swarts (2), George Whitehead (2). Penalties: Swarts (4).
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Abongile Nonkontwana, Piet van Zyl, Jaco Visagie, Duncan Matthews, Warrick Gelant, Andre Warner, Travis Ismaiel. Conversions: Tinus de Beer (3), Joshua Stander. Penalties: De Beer, Gelant.
Toyota Free State 47 (17), Cell C Sharks 12 (7)
Totota Free State – Tries: Uzair Cassiem, Francois Venter, Reinach Venter, Raymond Rhule, William Small-Smith, Zee Mkhabela. Conversions: Niel Marais (3), Clayton Blommetjies. Penalties: Marais (3).
Cell C Sharks – Tries: S’bura Sithole, Bandisa Ndlovu. Conversion: Benhard Janse van Rensburg.