ABSA Currie Cup Round Up

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The Xerox Golden Lions celebrated their 125th year anniversary in style with a convincing 41-13 victory over the Vodacom Blue Bulls on Saturday in their opening Absa Currie Cup Premier Division match played at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
Playing in their original navy blue and white colours from 125 years ago, the Lions were powerful in the scrums and always dangerous when spreading the ball wide. Coach Johan Ackermann and his Lions team achieved a memorable double in this derby last season, winning at home and in Pretoria. Following their impressive display on Saturday night, they are now halfway on their way to a possible repeat of the double.

The Cell C Sharks got their defence off to a good start with a 31-24 win over a gusty GWK Griquas at GWK Park in Kimberley.

Griquas shocked the Sharks 32-30 in the opening fixture last year in Durban and although they staged a late rally which resulted in two late tries, the Kimberley side could not repeat their heroics at home.

They had to play for a long period with 14 players after centre Jonathan Francke was red-carded by referee Craig Joubert for executing a dangerous tackle.

Last season the Steval Pumas went 14 matches unbeaten on their way to lifting the Absa Currie Cup First Division crown and gaining promotion to the Premier Division. Saturday in Nelspruit they continued their winning streak when they shocked the Toyota Free State Cheetahs 28-21 in a hard fought match at the Mbombela Stadium. It was the Pumas’ first win in eight games over the Cheetahs since 27 August 2004, when they last won 29-24 in Witbank.

Despite an outstanding individual display by number eight and captain, Luke Watson, the EP Kings could not celebrate their return to the top flight with a win. They lost 35-16 against the DHL Western Province in a clash which saw three WP players yellow carded.

Xerox Golden Lions 41 (23) Vodacom Blue Bulls 13 (3)

The Lions made an impressive start when winger Ruan Combrinck plugged a high ball from the air to feed outside centre Stokkies Hanekom who scored inside the first four minutes. The two kickers then traded penalties. Jacques-Louis Potgieter opened the Bulls’ account with a successful kick while Lions pivot Marnitz Boshoff added a penalty and a drop goal.

Combrinck was into the action again when he gratefully intercepted a pass to run 45m and send his team 23-5 up at the break. After halftime Bulls wing Sampie Mastriet crashed over in the left-hand corner for their first try, which Potgieter converted.

His penalty a few minutes later reduced the Bulls’ deficit to 10 points. Former SA Schools flyhalf Jaco van der Walt replaced the injured Boshoff and slotted two penalties before flanker Jaco Kriel took an excellent offload from Lionel Mapoe to score in the 65th minute. Warwick Tecklenburg scored the Lions’ bonus point try when he dotted from a lineout maul.

Scorers

Xerox Golden Lions – Tries: Stokkies Hanekom, Ruan Combrinck, Jaco Kriel, Warwick Tecklenburg. Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (2), Jaco van der Walt. Penalties: Boshoff (2), Van der Walt (2). Drop goal: Boshoff.
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Try: Sampie Mastriet. Conversion: Jacques-Louis Potgieter. Penalties: Potgieter (2)

GWK Griquas 24 (3) Cell C Sharks 31 (18)

In front of a passionate crowd the Griquas scored first via a Nico Scheepers (fullback) penalty. However, their joy were short-lived when centre Jonathan Francke was red-carded for a dangerous tackle, meaning the home team had to play the remainder of the match with 14 players.

Sharks flyhalf Fred Zeilinga equaled matters with his first successful attempt after 18 minutes, and with Griquas a man short in the scrum it came as no surprise that they were often penalized in the set piece, with Zeilinga adding a couple of penalties.

It was also Zeilinga who scored the Sharks’ first try (11-3). Shortly before the break centre Paul Jordaan sliced through the Griquas midfield defence to score near the posts. Zeilinga slotted the conversion to put the Sharks 18-3 in front at halftime.

After halftime big Junior Springbok prop Thomas du Toit was yellow carded for a repeated infringement on the visitors’ goal line. Zeilinga kicked the points in the 53rd minute to stretch the champs’ lead to 18 points with just 25 minutes left to play.

Griquas hit back with their first try by flank Marnus Schoeman, which Scheepers converted. The Sharks, however, countered with a strong running converted try by centre S’bura Sithole. Griquas staged a late rally which saw Carel Greeff and Ederies Arendse crash over either side of a Zeilinga penalty.

Scorers

Cell C Sharks – Tries: Fred Zeilinga, Paul Jordaan, S’bura Sithole. Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (2). Penalties: Fred Zeilinga (4).
GWK Griquas – Tries: Marnus Schoeman, Carel Greeff, Ederies Arendse. Conversions: Nico Scheepers (2). Penalty: Nico Scheepers

Steval Pumas 28 Toyota Free State Cheetahs 21

The hosts outscored their fancied visitors by three tries to two, despite the Cheetahs dominating possession and territorial advantage for most of the match. Young flyhalf Justin van Staden slotted two conversions and three penalties for a personal tally of 13 points. Former Springbok Sevens flyer Rayno Benjamin bagged two tries while Willie du Plessis kicked three penalties and two conversions.

The Cheetahs got into their stride quickly which resulted into a well-worked try for right wing Rayno Benjamin, which flyhalf Du Plessis converted. Van Staden kicked his first penalty just four minutes later to bring the hosts within four points.

Fullback JW Bell took advantage of a quick penalty tap to score the Pumas’ opening try to hand the lead to the hosts. However, Du Plessis succeeded with two penalties to hand the Cheetahs a 13-10 lead with less than a quarter of an hour remaining in the first half.

Pumas regained the lead when captain, Corné Steenkamp, playing in his 150th first class game for the province, dived over following a maul, Van Staden adding the two points. Du Plessis answered with a Cheetah penalty and Van Staden was shown yellow for kicking the ball away.

The Cheetahs launched a massive onslaught in the second half, but when Benjamin was trapped offside the returning Van Staden made no mistake with the penalty to give the hosts a two-point lead. Cheetahs scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius also found himself spending 10 minutes in the sin bin after kicking the ball away.

With Van Staden slotting his third penalty, the Pumas gained the upper hand. The young flyhalf was later instrumental in setting up the Pumas’ third try scored by JW Jonker, and he also added the conversion.

Rhule went close to scoring when the TMO ruled he did not ground the ball, but Benjamin made sure he scored minutes later with a spectacular dive. The Cheetahs pressed for another score but the Pumas held firm to register a deserved victory.

Scorers

Pumas – Tries: JW Bell, Corné Steenkamp, JW Jonker; Conversions: Justin van Staden (2); Penalties: Van Staden (3).
Cheetahs – Tries: Rayno Benjamin (2); Conversions: Willie du Plessis; Penalties: Du Plessis (3).

EP Kings 16 (11) DHL Western Province 35 (10)

EP Kings number eight and skipper Luke Watson produced and outstanding individual display against the DHL Western Province on Friday evening, however, this could not prevent last year’s losing finalists from scoring a 35-16 win.

The previous encounter between these two Cape province neighbours was in 1999, which ended 15-15 on 2 July in Cape Town.

WP were severely punished for what referee Jaco Peyper interpreted as cynical acts and they had no less than three players yellow carded. First lock Manuel Carizza and then prop and vice-captain Pat Cilliers were shown yellow, while Springbok Sevens star Seabelo Senatla was also sin binned in the second half.

Wing Pat Howard got the visitors on the scoreboard with his try but the Kings fought back with two penalties by Scott van Breda. Watson, who led the home superbly, scored from a driving maul as the Kings made their intensions very clear. The home team led 11-10 at halftime.

Province played with much more discipline after the break and their patience paid off when flanker Nizaam Carr scored, followed by a Catrakilis penalty and a try by Michael van der Spuy. Junior Bok Cheslin Kolbe grabbed WP’s fourth try just before the final hooter.

Scorers

Western Province – Tries: Pat Howard, Nizaam Carr, Michael van der Spuy and Cheslin Kolbe; Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (3); Penalties: Demetri Catrakilis (3).
EP Kings – Tries: Luke Watson and Kevin Luiters; Penalties: Scott van Breda (2)

Courtesy of SARU

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