Gold Cup champions Newrak Rustenburg Impala got off to a winning start while there were also significant wins for tournament wildcards Swallows and Tygerberg in the first round of SA Rugby’s flagship three-nation champions’ league for non-university clubs.
In Pool A, Impala, winners in 2014 and 2016, were made to work very hard for a 28-10 victory over visitors Recall Security Bloemfontein Police, who led 3-0 at the break. In the other match, debutants Sasol Hydra-Arc Secunda picked up five valuable log points on the road with a come-from-behind 40-24 win over Human Auto Welkom in the northern Free State.
Pool B provided arguably the biggest upset of the weekend when Zimbabwe’s champions, Old Georgians, beat fancied Golden Lions representatives Raiders 57-36 in Harare, with wing Jafnos Chiwanza kicking no fewer than 32 points. Northam Platinum Rhinos of Limpopo meanwhile recorded their first-ever Gold Cup win with a nailbiting 27-21 away victory over first-timers Speedy Car Sales Vaal Reefs in Orkney.
Pool C is anyone’s to win, with wildcards Swallows edging Border champions Mike Pendock Motors Old Selbornians 25-24 in the big East London derby, while Tygerberg, following a nervy start which saw them concede three early tries, ran out impressive 54-27 winners over EP champions Gap Management Progress Uitenhage in a match which saw centre Deon Taljaard kicking 24 points.
Go Nutz College Rovers, the last national champions of the pre-Gold Cup era in 2012, came away from Windhoek with a 46-17 win over newcomers Western Suburbs, while 2016 runners-up Direct Axis False Bay made their title aspirations known with a strong 43-19 win at home over Boland champions Roses United, with hard-running right wing Danie Roux crossing four times to lead the try-scoring charts after round one.
This weekend’s second round sees the action once again take place across the length and breadth of South Africa – in Secunda, Bloemfontein, Setaria, Pretoria, Despatch, George, Wellington and Kathu.
Broadcast partners SuperSport have confirmed that they will televise the Gold Cup quarter-finals (Sunday 15 October), semi-finals (Sunday 22 October) and final (Sunday 29 October).
ROUND 2 FIXTURES (all kick-off times 15h00 unless otherwise stated):
Saturday 16 September:
Sasol Hydra-Arc Secunda v Newrak Rustenburg Impala (Sasol Rugby Club, Secunda, 15h30)
Recall Security Bloemfontein Police v Wesizwe Vereeniging (Bobbies Park, Bloemfontein)
Northam Platinum Rhinos v Old Georgians (Setaria Recreation Club, Limpopo, 16h00)
QBR v Speedy Car Sales Vaal Reefs (Harlequins Club, Pretoria, 16h00)
Progress George v Tygerberg (Rosemore Stadium, George)
Roses United v Western Suburbs (Pelikaan Park, Wellington)
IMT Sishen v Direct Axis False Bay (Sivos Stadium, Kathu)
Sunday 17 September:
Gap Management Progress Uitenhage v Swallows (WJ de Wet Stadium, Despatch, 14h00)