Bonus-point victories dominated in the Currie Cup Premier and Frist Divisions on a weekend where Xerox Golden Lions lock Lourens Erasmus became the unlikely holder of a special Currie Cup record as he set a new record for the quickest try in Currie Cup rugby at 8.5 seconds.
In a thrilling weekend of rugby, all but one of the winning sides in the Premier Division scored less than 40 points, and two of the three First Division victors scored over 50 points.
In the Premier Division, the Cell C Sharks defeated Griquas 46-24 in Durban, while the Toyota Free State Cheetahs outplayed the Vodacom Blue Bulls 43-20 in Bloemfontein, the Xerox Golden Lions thumped the Steval Pumas 68-26 in Johannesburg and Boland registered a valuable 28-10 away win against the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth.
The victories for the Cell C Sharks and Toyota Free State Cheetahs marked their second round of bonus-point victories.
In the Currie Cup First Division, SWD thumped the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias 54-23 in George, while the Down Touch Griffons outplayed the Hino Valke 50-27 in Welkom and the Leopards pipped the Border Bulldogs 26-24 in Potchefstroom.
Currie Cup Premier Division
A strong first-half by the Cell C Sharks in which they capitalised on their try-scoring chances effectively, allowed them to score four tries to add to a penalty by Curwin Bosch for an encouraging 31-10 halftime lead against Griquas. The Kimberley side fought back in the second half and added two tries to their one in the first half, but the hosts were too good on the day and touched down two more times, while Bosch added a handy penalty late in the game, which earned them a 46-24 victory. Bosch’s five conversions and two penalties earned him a personal total of 16 points.
In Bloemfontein, the Toyota Free State Cheetahs produced a well-balanced performance on attack and defence to outplay the Vodacom Blue Bulls. The Pretoria side, meanwhile, conceded turnovers at crucial times, while they allowed the opposition to force their way over the advantage line and gain momentum on attack. Two tries in the first eight minutes set up the home team for a solid performance, and in the end they outscored the opposition six tries to two for their 43-20 win.
In Johannesburg, defending Currie Cup champions, the Xerox Golden Lions, ran riot on attack against the Steval Pumas and converted their try-scoring chances easily, which allowed them to cruise to an impressive 68-26 victory in their opening match of the season. The hosts started with a bang as Erasmus scored the first try only 8.5 seconds into the match to beat the Leopards’ Bertie Visser’s record in 2012 of nine seconds. This set them up for an exciting match, as they broke through tackles at will to run in 10 tries in total. The Steval Pumas, meanwhile, battled to cope with the pace and skill of the hosts, and their efforts earned them only four tries.
In Port Elizabeth, Boland’s confident attacking approach and their solid defence against the EP Kings earned them their first Currie Cup Premier Division victory since their reintroduction to the competition since 2009. The first half was tight with Boland scoring a converted try, while the EP Kings slotted over a penalty. But the visitors found their rhythm in the second half and added three more tries to secure their bonus-point, while they leaked only one try, for a 28-10 victory.
Currie Cup First Division
SWD were in fine form against the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias in George as they opened up the scoring with a try in the first minute and added two more before the break, while the Namibian outfit kept the scoreboard ticking with three penalties compliments of Eugene Jantjies to trail 19-9 at the break. The hosts added their fourth try three minutes into the second half, and the visitors responded with their first try minutes later. However, the flood gates opened for SWD soon after as they crossed the tryline four more times before the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias snuck in for a consolation try. This impressive showing earned the hosts a rewarding 54-23 victory.
In Welkom the first half between the Down Touch Griffons and Hino Valke was tight as the teams each scored three tries and a penalty goal, which saw them enter the break tied at 22-22. The home team, however, controlled proceedings in the second half as they tightened up their defence and built on their attacking form, which earned them four more tries, two of which were scored by wing Vuyo Mbotho to secure his hat-trick. This allowed the Down Touch Griffons to power their way to a 50-27 victory.
The Leopards and Border Bulldogs were neck-on-neck from start to end in their clash in Potchefstroom as they each crossed the tryline twice in a tight first half to enter the break at 12-12. Two converted tries within three minutes by the Leopards in the second half handed them the lead, but the Border Bulldogs showed their fighting spirit to hit back with two tries, one of which was converted, to enter the last 10 minutes 26-24 behind. Neither team was able to add to their score, which sealed the victory for the Leopards.
Currie Cup Premier Division Scorers (click on the hyperlinks below for the full run of play):
Toyota Free State Cheetahs – Tries: Clayton Blommetjies, Francois Venter, Ox Nche, Ryno Benjamin, Uzair Cassiem, William Small-Smith. Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (4), Niel Marais. Penalty Goal: Fred Zeilinga.
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Jannes Kirsten, Ruan Steenkamp. Conversions: Joshua Stander, Tian Schoeman. Penalty Goals: Tian Schoeman (2).
Xerox Golden Lions – Tries: Akker van der Merwe, Anthony Volmink (2), Cyle Brink, Howard Mnisi, Jako van der Walt, Koch Marx, Lourens Erasmus, Marnitz Boshoff, Sylvian Mahuza. Conversions: Jako van der Walt (6), Marnitz Boshoff (3).
Steval Pumas – Tries: Devon Williams, Justin van Staden, Khwezi Mona, Marlou van Niekerk. Conversions: Francois Brummer (3).
Cell C Sharks – Tries: Andre Esterhuizen, Etienne Oosthuizen, Jean Deysel, Lubabalo Mtembu, Sibusiso Sithole, Stefan Ungerer. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (5). Penalty Goals: Curwin Bosch (2).
Griquas – Tries: Alshaun Bock, JW Jonker, Rudi van Rooyen. Conversions: Clinton Swart (3). Penalty Goal: Clinton Swart.
EP KIngs – Try: Johann Tromp. Conversion: Lungelo Gosa. Penalty Goal: Kobus Marais.
Boland – Tries: Christopher Bosch, Kenan Cronje, Sergio Torrens, Zandre Jordaan. Conversions: Nico Scheepers (4).
Currie Cup First Division Scorers:
SWD – Tries: Penalty Try, Andisa Ntsila, Dillin Snel, Johan Steyn, Lodewyk Uys, Mark Pretorius (2), Thor Halvorsen. Conversions: Hansie Graaff (7).
Windhoek Draught Welwitschias – Tries: Abel de Klerk, Lesley Klim. Conversions: Eugene Jantjies (2). Penalty Goals: Eugene Jantjies (3).
Down Touch Griffons – Tries: Elandre Huggett, Khwezi Mkhafu, Martin Sithole, Selvyn Davids, Vuyo Mbotho (3). Conversions: George Whitehead (6). Penalty Goal: George Whitehead.
Hino Valke – Tries: Charles Mayeza, Etienne Taljaard (2), Marlyn Williams. Conversions: Karlo Aspeling (2). Penalty Goal: Karlo Aspeling.
Leopards – Tries: Bart le Roux (2), Gene Willemse, Henro-Pierre Swart. Conversions: Malherbe Swart (3).
Border Bulldogs – Tries: Athenkosi Manentsa, Masixole Banda, Michael Makase, Sipho Nofemele. Conversions: Masixole Banda (2).
Currie Cup Premier Division log table:
Currie Cup First Division log table: