A hat-trick by Vodacom Blue Bulls and Junior Springbok fullback Manie Libbok reignited the spark in the Pretoria outfit this past weekend, as they ended a four-match losing run.
The Cell C Sharks outplayed the Toyota Free State Cheetahs to power their way to the top of the log and the Xerox Golden Lions returned to winning ways.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls pipped Tafel Lager Griquas 44-42 in a thrilling match on Friday which saw 11 tries and 86 points scored, with a hat-trick by Libbok and a few vital penalty goals handing the home side the edge at Loftus Versfeld.
The clash was close from the outset as each team scored three tries in the first half, but two penalty goals by Vodacom Blue Bulls flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff pushed them 27-21 ahead.
They built on this with two tries in the third quarter, which the visitors matched, but a penalty goal by Tony Jantjies pushed the side nine points ahead on the scoreboard in the dying minutes, which was enough to secure the win despite a last-gasp try by Tafel Lager Griquas as the final hooter sounded.
The Cell C Sharks, meanwhile, outscored a new-look Toyota Free State Cheetahs squad by seven tries to two at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban for a rewarding 45-15 victory, in which they sealed the bonus point before halftime.
Former Junior Springbok winger Sbu Nkosi crossed the tryline twice, while fullback Inny Radebe also made a valuable contribution with a try and three conversions. The victory catapulted the hosts to the top spot on the log with 29 points – four ahead of the Toyota Free State Cheetahs.
In Johannesburg, the Xerox Golden Lions held on for a narrow 29-28 victory on Saturday despite a strong second-half fightback by the Steval Pumas, with both sides earning bonus points for tries.
The hosts took an encouraging 22-14 lead as they scored their bonus-point try four minutes before halftime, but the visitors tightened up their defence as the match progressed to limit to the Xerox Golden Lions to one more try, while they added two. This, however, still left them short on the scoreboard.
Currie Cup Round 8 results and scorers:
Cell C Sharks 45 (24) Toyota Free State Cheetahs 15 (3)
Cell C Sharks – Tries: Lukhanyo Am, John-Hubert Meyer, Inny Radebe, Louis Schreuder, Marius Louw, Sbu Nkosi (2). Conversions: Garth April (2), Inny Radebe (3).
Toyota Free State Cheetahs – Tries: Marco Mason, Luther Obi. Conversion: Marco Mason. Penalty Goal: Ryno Eksteen.
Xerox Golden Lions 29 (22) Steval Pumas 28 (14)
Xerox Golden Lions – Tries: Ruan Dreyer, Ryan Kankowski, Marco Janse van Vuren, Rohan Janse Van Rensburg, Madosh Tambwe. Conversions: Ashlon Davids (2).
Steval Pumas – Tries: Lambert Groenewald (2), Stefan Ungerer, Ruwellyn Isbell. Conversions: Kobus Marais (4).
Vodacom Blue Bulls 44 (27) Tafel Lager Griquas 42 (21)
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Dayan Van der Westhuizen, Rabs Maxwane, Manie Libbok (3). Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (5). Penalty Goals: Marnitz Boshoff (2), Tony Jantjies.
Tafel Lager Griquas – Tries: Christiaan Meyer, Ederies Arendse (2), AJ Coertzen (2), Wandile Putuma. Conversions: Andre Swarts (3), George Whitehead (3).