Absa Currie Cup Premier Division off to a thrilling start

Aug 11 • General News, South Africa • 2260 Views • Comments Off on Absa Currie Cup Premier Division off to a thrilling start

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The Absa Currie Cup Premier Division lived up to its billing as SA’s premier domestic competition this weekend as the opening round delivered a series of nail-biting encounters, which set the scene for a gripping competition.

GWK Griquas and the Toyota Free State Cheetahs got their campaigns off to positive starts as they registered invaluable away victories, while DHL Western Province and the Vodacom Blue Bulls played to a draw in an epic clash in Cape Town.

So closely matched were the teams, GWK Griquas pipped the Sharks 32-30 at GrowthPoint Kings Park on Friday night, and on Saturday the Toyota Free State Cheetahs edged the MTN Golden Lions 30-29 at Ellis Park and DHL Western Province and Vodacom Blue Bulls drew 24-24 at Newlands.

Note: The breakdown of each match can be accessed on www.sarugby.co.za

DHL Western Province 24 (14) Vodacom Blue Bulls 24 (6)

Western Province stamped their authority early on and showed fantastic skills to create try-scoring chances, which earned them two converted tries in the first 20 minutes by Gio Aplon and Patrick Howard respectively. The Blue Bulls, meanwhile, managed to accumulate only three points in that time thanks to a penalty by flyhalf Tony Jantjies.

With the home team’s confidence up they continued to create try-scoring chances, but mistakes at crucial times denied the team two possible tries before the break. Jantjies, however, slotted over the second of his four penalties which saw the visitors trail 14-6 at the break.

The second half proved to be very close despite the home team adding a third try by Nizaam Carr, as their ill-discipline combined with a loser defensive effort saw the Pretoria  team claw their way back into the match. Francois Venter and Jean Cook crossed the tryline in the last 12 minutes to add to a further two penalties by Jantjies, but the young flyhalf missed a conversion in the dying seconds which denied them a victory.

Scorers:

DHL Western Province 24 (14) – Tries: Gio Aplon, Nizaam Carr, Patrick Howard. Conversions: Gary van Aswegen (3). Penalty: Gary van Aswegen.

Vodacom Blue Bulls 24 (6) – Tries: Francois Venter, Jean Cook. Conversion: Tony Jantjies. Penalties: Tony Jantjies (4).

MTN Golden Lions 29 (16) Toyota Free State Cheetahs 30 (13)

The Toyota Free State Cheetahs dominated territory and possession in a physical first half at Ellis Park against the MTN Golden Lions, and they showed their attacking prowess as early as the fifth minute with centre Robert Ebersohn scoring the opening try. Their ability to balance their attack between the hard grind up front and innovative running rugby, which proved to be far more effective than the Lions’ aimless kicking on attack, paid off again in the 30th minute with captain Boom Prinsloo diving over the line from a rolling maul to add to a penalty by Riaan Smit minutes earlier. But unfortunately for the visitors three first-half penalties by flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff and a fantastic try by in-form centre Stokkies Hanekom following a stunning off-load by Dylan des Fountain allowed the Lions to sneak into a 16-13 lead.

The Cheetahs continued to pin their hopes of a victory on a balanced effort between the forwards and backs, and this paid off five minutes into the second half as scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius gathered the ball following a strong showing by the forwards to dive over the tryline. Nine minutes later centre Johann Sadie took a gap in the defence following a few phases to earn their bonus point try and a 27-19 lead.

But with nothing to lose the home team retained possession, and the change in tactics worked well, as it earned them two tries in seven minutes to trail 30-29 with a conversion to come.

Unfortunately for the Lions, however, replacement flyhalf Elton Jantjies pushed the kick to the right, and with that proving to be their last point-scoring opportunity, the team were left heart-broken with a 30-29 defeat.

Scorers:

MTN Golden Lions 29 (16) – Tries: Stokkies Hanekom, Ruan Dreyer, Willie Britz. Conversion: Marnitz Boshoff. Penalties: Marnitz Boshoff (4).

Toyota Free State Cheetahs 30 (13) – Tries: Boom Prinsloo, Johann Sadie, Robert Ebersohn, Sarel Pretorius. Conversions: Elgar Watts, Riaan Smit. Penalties: Elgar Watts, Riaan Smit.

Sharks 30 (20) GWK Griquas 32 (16)

In Durban the Sharks ill-discipline dealt a huge blow to their hopes of a strong start to the competition. Both teams found themselves on the wrong side of the law during what proved to be a tense encounter, but GWK Griquas wing Nico Scheepers’ six penalties to only three by Sharks flyhalf Butch James proved to be decisive in the result. Interestingly the Sharks outscored the Kimberly side three tries to two – two of which were scored by veteran looseforward Jacques Botes, which contributed immensely to their 20-16 halftime lead.

But the Scheepers’ accurate boot kept the pressure on in the second half and allowed the team to stay within striking range of a victory despite a try by Springbok wing Lwazi Mvovo. A try after the final, whistle by Griquas replacement looseforward Carel Greeff, which Scheepers converted, however, sealed the victory.

Scorers:

Sharks 30 (20) – Tries: Jacques Botes (2), Lwazi Mvovo. Conversions: Butch James (3). Penalties: Butch James (3).

GWK Griquas 32 (16) – Tries: Carel Greeff, Marnus Schoeman. Conversions: Nico Scheepers (2). Penalties: Nico Scheepers (6).

Absa Currie Cup Premier Division log – After Round 1

TEAM

PLAYED

WON

LOST

DREW

POINTS FOR

POINTS AGAINST

POINTS DIFFERENCE

TRIES FOR

TRIES AGAINST

LOSS BONUS

TRIES BONUS

POINTS

FS Cheetahs

1

1

0

0

30

29

1

4

3

0

1

5

Griquas

1

1

0

0

32

30

2

2

3

0

0

4

Western Province

1

0

0

1

24

24

0

3

2

0

0

2

Blue Bulls

1

0

0

1

24

24

0

2

3

0

0

2

Golden Lions

1

0

1

0

29

30

-1

3

4

1

0

1

Sharks

1

0

1

0

30

32

-2

3

2

1

0

1

 

Top 10 point scorers  – After Round 1

PLAYER T C P D PTS
Nico Scheepers 0 2 6 0 22
Butch James 0 3 3 0 15
Marnitz Boshoff 0 1 4 0 14
Tony Jantjies 0 1 4 0 14
Jacques Botes 2 0 0 0 10
Gary Van Aswegen 0 3 1 0 9
Boom Prinsloo 1 0 0 0 5
Carel Frederick Kirstein Greeff 1 0 0 0 5
Francois Venter 1 0 0 0 5
Gio Aplon 1 0 0 0 5

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