Strong performances by a number of the leading contenders for play-off spots in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge confirmed their credentials in a weekend packed with tries and dramatic action.
DHL Western Province kept their undefeated record intact, but the likes of Tafel Lager Griquas, Cell C Sharks XV and Vodacom Blue Bulls scored important wins as the play-off race becomes more intense with two round left to go.
The Xerox Golden Lions XV scored 14 tries as they mauled the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias 84-0 (halftime 24-0) at the Hage Geingob Stadium in Windhoek on Saturday to record the biggest win of the weekend.
The victory lifts them to within one point of the North Section log leaders, the Vodacom Blue Bulls, but with a game in hand and increased their points’ difference to a massive 202.
It was one way traffic for the visitors and the Xerox Golden Lions XV looks set for a top two finish in the North Section.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls on Friday stayed ahead of the chasing pack by beating Hino Valke 33-26 in the Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park. The Pretoria team was boosted by the inclusion of Handré Pollard and Dries Swanepoel and they managed to outlast the home side, who was within striking distance all the way.
The Central Section delivered some telling results, especially in Potchefstroom, where the visiting Cell C Sharks XV had too much bite for the Leopards, winning 40-24. The Cell C Sharks XV scored six tries to three at Olen Park. The home side were one place ahead of them on the log standings before kick-off, but this result saw the Cell C Sharks XV leap-frog their opponents.
On Friday, Tafel Lager Griquas remained at the top of the log in the central region of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge after beating the Toyota Free State XV 43-36 at Tafel Lager Park in Kimberley.
The home side were rocked by two quick intercept tries by Free State flyer, Luther Obi, and were trailing 17-0 in no time. But they then got their act together and completely dismantled their central heartland neighbours, scoring 40 unanswered points. They were leading 33-17 at the break and although the visitors scored a number of late tries, the result was never in doubt.
DHL Western Province on Saturday overcame a gutsy Boland Cavaliers side in wet condition in Strand, beating them 22-8 to extend their lead on top on the South Section standings. It is now six out of six for the Cape side and it is hard to see them being beaten by their foes in this section.
Flyhalf Kurt Coleman had a productive day. He scored a great individual try as well as setting up one for Michael Hazner and kicked two conversions and a penalty.
The other South Section match also saw great individual performances, but also great drama. An 80th minute try by flyhalf Border Bulldogs flyhalf, Oliver Zono, clinched a dramatic 26-25 victory for his team over the South Western District Eagles in their encounter at Outeniqua Park in George on Friday.
Zono was the star of the show for the Bulldogs, bagging a personal haul of 21 points, courtesy of a brace of tries, a conversion and three penalties.
The home side were desperate for a first win in the competition and did everything right, but play for the full 80 minutes. They were leading at halftime, but failed to keep out the last desperate attack from Border, which saw them record a fourth win in seven matches.
A summary of results and scorers are:
DHL Western Province 22 (8), Boland Cavaliers 8 (8).
DHL Western Province – Tries: Eital Bredenkamp, Kurt Coleman, Michal Hazner. Conversions: Coleman (2); Penalty: Coleman.
Boland Cavaliers – Try: Clinton Theron. Penalty: Divan Nel.
SWD 25 (17), Border Bulldogs 26 (14)
SWD – Tries: Marlou van Niekerk, Freginald Afrika, Adri Jacobs. Conversions: Leighton Eksteen (2). Penalties: Eksteen (2).
Border – Tries: Oliver Zono (2), Sinovuyo Nyoka. Conversion: Zono. Penalties: Zono (3)
Windhoek Draught Welwitschias 0 (0), Xerox Golden Lions XV 84 (24)
Windhoek Draught Welwitschias – none
Xerox Golden Lions – Tries: Gerhardus Labuschagne (3), Hacjivah Dayimani (2), Bobby De Wee (2), James Venter (2), Gerdus van der Walt, Jano Venter, Adriaan Bester, Selom Gavor, Morne van der Berg; Conversions: Masuku (7).
Hino Valke 26 (12), Vodacom Blue Bulls 33 (14)
Hino Valke – Tries: JP Mostert, Marco Klopper, Warren Potgieter, Etienne Taljaard. Conversions: Warren Potgieter (3).
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Duncan Matthews, Boom Prinsloo, Andre Warner, Kefentse Mahlo (2). Conversions: Handré Pollard (3), Divan Rossouw.
Leopards 24 (10), Cell C Sharks XV 40 (24)
Leopards – Tries: Henko Marais (2), Johan Smith. Conversions: Gerhard Nortier (2), Schalk Hugo. Penalties: Gerhard Nortier.
Sharks XV – Tries: Andre Esterhuizen (2), Wian Vosloo, Stephan Coetzee, Khaya Majola, Andrew du Plessis; Conversions: Garth April (4), Benhard Janse van Rensburg
Tafel Lager Griquas 43 (33), Toyota Free State XV 36 (17)
Tafel Lager Griquas – Tries: Renier Botha, Ederies Arendse (2), Andre Swarts, Wendall Wehr (2). Conversions: Andre Swarts (5). Penalty: Andre Swarts.
Toyota Free State XV – Tries: Luther Obi (2), JW Jonker, Ruan van Rensburg, Justin Basson. Conversions: Marco Mason (4). Penalty: Marco Mason.