The Toyota Free State Cheetahs, Xerox Golden Lions, Vodacom Blue Bulls and DHL Western Province qualified for the Currie Cup Premier Division semi-finals, while the Leopards will host the Down Touch Griffons in the First Division final.
The Cheetah will host the Lions, while the Bulls will face Western Province in Pretoria.
These fixtures in the Currie Cup – brought to you by DirectAxis and Nashua – were confirmed following a gripping final round of pool matches, which saw the Cell C Sharks drop out of the competition following their do-or-die encounter against the Xerox Golden Lions, while DHL Western Province slotted over a late penalty goal in a nail-biting clash against Boland to book their place in the semi-finals.
In the Currie Cup First Division semi-finals, a strong first half by the Leopards set them up for 40-30 victory against the Hino Valke in Potchefstroom, while a batch of penalty goals by Down Touch Griffons flyhalf George Whitehead steered his team to a 25-16 victory against Border in East London.
The Currie Cup Premier Division semi-finals will be hosted in Bloemfontein and Pretoria respectively on Saturday, 15 October, while the Leopards will host their second successive Currie Cup First Division final in Potchefstroom on Friday, 7 October.
Currie Cup Premier Division
A strong second-half fightback by the Xerox Golden Lions combined with the Cell C Sharks’ ill-discipline allowed the defending champions to overturn a 10-point deficit in Johannesburg and book their place in the Currie Cup semi-final. The Durbanites delivered a solid first-half performance which saw fullback Curwin Bosch open up the scoring with a penalty goal before a smart pass out wide and good inter-passing between the players saw Michael Claassens score a try to hand the hosts a 10-0 lead.
A penalty goal by Bosch after the break stretched their lead to 13-0, but this was cancelled out soon after as a powerful burst of pace by Xerox Golden Lions captain Kwagga Smith saw him touch down for the team’s first try in the 46th minute. The visitors were dealt a big blow minutes later as flanker Francois Kleinhans received a yellow card for a tip tackle, and the hosts took full advantage as they scored a try and penalty goal, while Bosch added another penalty goal for his team. This pushed the Xerox Golden Lions 16-15 ahead.
A penalty goal by Andries Coetzee and another well-worked try by Sylvian Mahuza pushed the home side 25-16 ahead with 10 minutes to play. A second yellow card for the Cell C Sharks in the 76th minute handed Coetzee an opportunity to add another penalty goal, which secured a 28-16 victory for the Xerox Golden Lions.
A hat-trick by Steval Pumas hooker Frankie Herne in their bottom-of-the-table clash against the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth was instrumental in guiding his team to their first victory of the season as the teams were embroiled in a thrilling battle from start to end. Two early penalties by the hosts pushed them into the lead, while they added two first-half tries to three by the Steval Pumas to take a narrow 20-19 lead going into the break.
The EP Kings extended their lead with another try shortly after halftime. But the Steval Pumas broke away as the match neared the final quarter with the first of three tries, while the hosts were only able to add a penalty goal to their score, which saw them go down 38-30.
In Cape Town a late penalty goal by DHL Western Province flyhalf Robert du Preez, who kicked 18 points in total, sealed a last-gasp victory for this team against Boland and allowed them to book their place in the semi-final. The Western Cape neighbours were involved in a tight tussle from the outset as Boland started the clash with a bang with a try compliments of flanker Shaun Adendorff in the second minute. A penalty goal by Du Preez closed the gap, while DHL Western Province scored their first try in the 22nd minute and then added another from a rolling maul before halftime to lead 17-7.
Boland again started the second half strongly and scored three tries in 15 minutes to secure their bonus point for tries, thanks to their determined efforts on attack and never-say-die attitude. In turn, the home side, who dominated the scrums throughout the match, were only able to add a penalty goal. A late try by DHL Western Province replacement Dave Ribbans, which Du Preez converted, left them one point behind with seven minutes to play. To the delight of the DHL Western Province faithful, Du Preez held his nerve to slot over his third penalty goal with three minutes left on the clock to seal the 30-28 win.
The Toyota Free State Cheetahs were rampant against Griquas in the final pool match of the season as they cruised to a 63-26 victory after running in an impressive nine tries. Griquas opened up the scoring in the first minute, but a Penalty try awarded to the hosts after Griquas were pinned for illegal scrummaging triggered a string of three tries in four minutes for the Toyota Free State Cheetahs. They added three more before half time, while Griquas could only add one, which handed the home team a 42-12 lead.
The second half proved to be a tighter contest, with Griquas once again striking first. The Toyota Free State Cheetahs added two more tries to their tally to take a comfortable lead going into the last 10 minutes. But in a frantic finish to the match Griquas scored their bonus point try in the 76th minute and the hosts added two more to secure a rewarding victory and ensure that they remain unbeaten in the pool stages.
Currie Cup First Division
The semi-final between Border and the Down Touch Griffons in East London was decided by penalty goals as the teams threw everything at one another, which saw each side cross the tryline only once during the match. The Down Touch Griffons struck first as prop Danie van der Merwe forced his way over the line with a few Border defenders clinging onto him, while each team slotted over three penalty goals. This allowed the visitors to enter the break 16-9 ahead.
Down Touch Griffons points machine George Whitehead added two penalty goals in the second half, but this was cancelled out by a try by Border winger Makazole Mapimpi to place his team back into contention for a victory. Despite Border’s determined efforts to add to their score as the match progressed, they were unable to, while Whitehead guaranteed the victory for his team with his sixth penalty goal for a 25-16 win. This also took his points tally to 20 in the match.
A strong first half by the Leopards in their home semi-final against the Hino Valke in Potchefstroom paved the way for them to earn back-to-back home finals. The Leopards came out firing with two tries in the first quarter, one of which was scored by centre Johan Deysel who also added a penalty goal. The Hino Valke hit back with a try, but they had to contend with a determined Leopards side who continued to apply pressure in the half and scored two more tries before the break. In turn the visitors added two penalty goals, which saw the hosts take a 27-13 lead.
The Leopards crossed the tryline again early in the second half, but the Hino Valke fought back and added two tries in 11 minutes and a penalty goal to stay in the match. The last 10 minutes was tight as the teams gave everything, but Deysel’s third penalty three minutes before the final whistle sealed the victory for the Leopards and earned him a personal total of 23 points.
Currie Cup Premier Division results and scorers
Xerox Golden Lions 28 (0) Cell C Sharks 16 (10)
Xerox Golden Lions – Tries: Howard Mnisi, Kwagga Smith, Sylvian Mahuza. Conversions: Andries Coetzee, Jako van der Walt. Penalty Goals: Andries Coetzee (2), Jako van der Walt.
Cell C Sharks – Try: Michael Claassens. Conversion: Curwin Bosch. Penalty Goals: Curwin Bosch (3).
EP Kings 30 (20) Steval Pumas 38 (19)
EP Kings – Tries: Henry Brown, Johann Tromp, Ricky Schroeder. Conversions: Pieter-Steyn de Wet (3). Penalty Goals: Pieter-Steyn de Wet (3).
Steval Pumas – Tries: Brian Shabangu, Frankie Herne (3), JP Lewis, Kevin Luiters. Conversions: Devon Williams (2), Heinrich Steyl (2).
DHL Western Province 30 (17) Boland 28 (7)
DHL Western Province – Tries: David Ribbans, Kobus van Dyk, Scott van Breda. Conversions: Robert du Preez (3). Penalty Goals: Robert du Preez (3).
Boland – Tries: Adriaan Carelse, Francois Hanekom, Jacques Engelbrecht, Shaun Adendorff. Conversions: Theuns Kotze (4).
Toyota Free State Cheetahs 63 (42) Griquas 26 (12)
Toyota Free State Cheetahs – Tries: Penalty Try, Henco Venter, Nicolaas Lee, Niel Marais, Raymond Rhule, Shaun Venter (2), Torsten van Jaarsveld, Uzair Cassiem. Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (3), Niel Marais (6).
Griquas – Tries: Andre Swarts, Jason-Collin Fraser, Jonathan Francke, Renier Botha. Conversions: Andre Swarts (3).
Currie Cup First Division semi-final results and scorers:
Border 16 (9) Down Touch Griffons 25 (16)
Border – Try: Makazole Mapimpi. Conversion: Masixole Banda. Penalty Goals: Masixole Banda (3).
Down Touch Griffons – Try: Danie van der Merwe. Conversion: George Whitehead. Penalty Goals: George Whitehead (6).
Leopards 40 (27) Hino Valke 30 (13)
Leopards – Tries: Bradley Moolman, Dean Gordon, Gene Willemse, Jaco Jordaan, Johan Deysel. Conversions: Johan Deysel (3). Penalty Goals: Johan Deysel (3).
Hino Valke – Tries: Johan Pretorius (2), Marlyn Williams. Conversions: Karlo Aspeling (2), Warren Potgieter. Penalty Goals: Karlo Aspeling (2), Warren Potgieter.