No less than 51 tries scored in six matches played, the first red card and first draw of the tournament and a first win for the Toyota Free State XV highlighted week five of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge.
The DHL Western Province team remains the only undefeated one, after the Xerox Golden Lions XV suffered a first defeat, while the Bloemfontein side played their best match of the competition to score an impressive away win over the highly-rated Cell C Sharks XV in Ballito.
A number of matches have been decided by just a point or two in previous rounds as well, but a draw came out of the highly entertaining Hino Valke/Steval Pumas match, the first in the competition. The competitive nature of this tournament is further highlighted by the fact that only two of the fifteen teams have yet registered a win.
The South Section has been dominated by DHL Western Province from the start and they again flexed their muscles against SWD Eagles on Friday, winning 45-11.
Already boosted by the availability of some Vodacom Super Rugby players, their task was made easier by SWD Eagles flanker, Lodewyk Uys, who was red carded for striking Rynhardt Elstadt in the face with his elbow in the 66th minute. SWD were reduced to just 13 men a few moments later as Reginald Afrika was shown a yellow for a cynical infringement close to the Province line. The visitors remain winless in the competition.
The race for second place behind WP and a play-off spot is tight between Border, EP Kings and Boland Cavaliers. The EP Kings though, scored a vital 27-16 win over the Cavaliers at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Flyhalf Simon Bolze was particularly productive, scoring 17 of the points.
The North Section is probably the most competitive. The only undefeated team, the Xerox Golden Lions XV, suffered their first defeat of the weekend, while in the other match in the section, the Hino Valke and Steval Pumas played to an entertaining draw. The Xerox Golden Lions XV had a chance to win the match at Emirates Airlines Park with a late, long-range penalty, but flyhalf Shaun Reynolds’ effort was just wide. The flyhalf scored a fine try minutes earlier to give his side a real chance to clinch it.
A missed conversion also determined the result in Brakpan’s Bosman Stadium. The Hino Valke seemed to have the match won, but a late try by Steval Pumas no8, Carel Greeff, squared matters with the kick to come. The conversion was missed though and the match drawn.
The Central section also saw some log movement. The Tafel Lager Griquas delivered a very strong second half performance against Down Touch Griffons in Welkom, winning 66-22. At halftime, the visitors held a 26-15 lead, but then pulled away with some breath-taking attacking play. With this win, Tafel Lager Griquas moved into the top spot of the log, past the Leopards, who started the tournament with three straight wins.
The only side yet to register a victory in this section was Toyota Free State XV, but they changed that with a close, but deserving win over the Cell C Sharks XV. The 21-19 win came courtesy of fullback Marco Mason, who kicked a penalty in the final seconds as they came from behind to pip the home side at the Ashton International College in Ballito.
Cell C Sharks XV (14) 19, Toyota Free State Cheetahs XV (10) 21
Cell C Sharks XV – Tries: Hyron Andrews (2). Penalties: Courtney Winnaar (3).
Toyota Free State Cheetahs XV – Tries: Marco Mason, Tienie Burger. Conversion: Marco Mason. Penalties: Marco Mason (3)
Touch Down Griffons 22 (15), Tafel Lager Griquas 66 (26)
Touch Down Griffons – Tries: Thato Mavundla, Joubert Engelbrecht, Daniel van der Merwe. Conversions: Duan Pretorius (2). Penalties: Pretorius.
Tafel Lager Griquas – Tries: Tertius Kruger (2), AJ Le Roux, Koch Marx, Eric Zana, Christiaan Meyer, Shaun McDonald, Kyle Steyn, Andre Swartz, AJ Coertzen. Conversions: George Whitehead (5), Zana (3)
Xerox Golden Lions XV 35 (23), Vodacom Blue Bulls 37 (11)
Xerox Golden Lions – Tries: Jarryd Sage, Ashlon Davids, Jano Venter, Selom Gavor, Shaun Reynolds. Conversions: Reynolds (2). Penalties: Reynolds (2).
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Boom Prinsloo, Corniel Els, Tinus de Beer, Penalty try, Arno Botha. Conversions: de Beer (2). Penalties: de Beer (2).
Hino Valke 41 (27), Steval Pumas 41 (10)
Hino Valke – Tries: Shane Kirkwood (2), Andries Schutte, Marnus Erasmus, Friedle Olivier. Conversions: Warren Potgieter (3), Christian Rust (2). Penalties: Potgieter (2).
Steval Pumas – Tries: Carel Greeff (2), Frank Herne, Ruwellyn Isbell, De-Jay Terblanche, JP Lewis, Devon Williams. Conversions: Sias Ebersohn (3).
Eastern Province Kings 27 (7), Boland Cavaliers 16 (9)
EP – Tries: Mguca Lupumlo, Simon Bolze, Sonwabo Majola. Conversions: Simon Bolze (3). Penalties: Simon Bolze (2)
Boland – Tries: Clemen Lewis. Conversions: Divan Nel. Penalties: Divan Nel (3).
DHL Western Province 45 (21), SWD Eagles 11 (6)
DHL Western Province – Tries: Craig Barry (2), Grant Hermanus, Chad Solomon (2), Justin Philips, Penalty Try. Conversions: Hermanus (4)
SWD Eagles – Tries: Charles Radebe; Conversion: Johnny Welthagen; Penalties: Leigthon Eksteen (2)