Bonus-point victories were the flavour of the day in the opening round of the Currie Cup First Division as all three winning teams emerged with a full house of points in an exciting start to the tournament.
The Hino Valke and Boland Cavaliers registered valuable away wins as they defeated the Border Bulldogs 48-41 in East London and Eastern Province 40-27 in Port Elizabeth respectively, while defending champions, the Down Touch Griffons beat the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias 66-59 in Welkom. In the other match the Leopards and SWD played to a 42-42 draw in Potchefstroom.
The Hino Valke survived a late fight-back by the Border Bulldogs in East London as they scored seven tries to six by the hosts for the 48-41 win. The home team got off to a slow start as they managed to score only a converted try in the first half to trail 19-7, but they bounced back with intent with flyhalf S’bu Ncanywa scoring a hat-trick, but this was not enough as the East Randers continued to keep the scoreboard ticking, which saw them seal the win.
The clash between the Down Touch Griffons and Windhoek Draught Welwitschias in Welkom was a try festival with 19 tries and 125 points in the match. The hosts took a narrow 26-19 halftime lead, and they managed to hold on to their seven point margin as the final hooter sounded. Two hat-tricks were scored by two opposing midfielders – Arthur-William Williams (Down Touch Griffons ) and Darryl De La Harpe (Windhoek Draught Welwitschias ) respectively.
Braces by Boland Cavaliers flanker Ludio Williams and winger Charles Mayeza and an effective kicking performance by Divan Nel guided the Wellington side to a 40-27 victory against Eastern Province at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium after a closely fought first half. The Boland Cavaliers outscored the hosts six tries to four for the win.
The Leopards and SWD Eagles, meanwhile, played to a 42-42 draw at Profert Olën Park, with the visitors scoring six tries to five by the 2015 and 2016 Currie Cup First Division finalists. Three penalty goals and four conversions by Leopards flyhalf Gerhard Nortier to add to their try tally pushed their points total to 42, while SWD Eagles fullback Leighton Eksteen converted all six of their tries, to match the score.
Currie First Division Round 1 results and scorers:
Border Bulldogs 41 (7) Hino Valke 48 (19)
Border Bulldogs – Tries: S’bu Ncanywa (3), Lelethu Gcilitshane, Sonwabiso Mqalo, Base Dubase. Conversions: Bangi Kobese (3), Xolela Mbembe Payi. Penalty Goal: Bangi Kobese.
Hino Valke – Tries: Jan-Frederik Enslin, Thabo Sikhumbuzo Mabuza (2), Friedle Olivier, Etienne Taljaard, Don Mlondobozi, Errol Jaggers. Conversions: Warren Johan Potgieter (4), Andries Truter. Penalty Goal: Warren Johan Potgieter.
Down Touch Griffons 66 (26) Windhoek Draught Welwitschias 59 (19)
Down Touch Griffons – Tries: Barend Potgieter, Kwezi Mkhafu, Arthur-William Williams (3), Vuyo Mbotho (2), Selvyn Davids (2), Andrew Du Plessis. Conversions: Duan Pretoruis (8).
Windhoek Draught Welwitschias – Tries: Shaun Du Preez, Jan Adriaan Booysen, Darryl De La Harpe (3), Lesley David Klim, Maharua Willem Katjijeko, Johan Tromp, Macho Prinsloo. Conversions: Theuns Kotze (7).
Eastern Province 27 (7) Boland Cavaliers 40 (14)
Eastern Province – Tries: Cody-Anthony Basson, Sonwabo Majola, Andile Jho, Siyanda Grey. Conversions: Simon Bolze (2). Penalty Goal: Simon Bolze.
Boland Cavaliers – Tries: Chadley Wenn, Ludio Williams (2), Gerrit Van Wyk, Charles Mayeza (2). Conversions: Divan Nel (5).
Leopards 42 (27) SWD Eagles 42 (21)
Leopards – Tries: Joe Smith, Gideon Van der Merwe, Juan Language (2), Jeandre Rudolph. Conversions: Gerhard Nortier (4). Penalty Goals: Gerhard Nortier (3).
SWD Eagles – Tries: Jan van der Merwe, Dillin Snel (2), Martin du Toit, Tyler Fisher, Marlo Weich. Conversions: Leighton Eksteen (6).