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Vodacom Blue Bulls flyhalf Manie Libbok and his iCOLLEGE Pumas counterpart, Chris Smith, were in superb form in the opening round of the Currie Cup Premier Division on Friday and helped steer their teams to vital bonus point victories.

The Vodacom Blue Bulls defeated the Toyota Free State Cheetahs 34-12 in Bloemfontein for an invaluable away-win, while the iCOLLEGE Pumas outplayed Tafel Lager Griquas 42-19 in Nelspruit as the Currie Cup – proudly brought to you by DirectAxis Financial Services and Nashua – got off to an exciting start.

Libbok scored 17 points for his team, while Smith earned 22 points in a memorable Currie Cup debut, with both players scoring tries and keeping the scoreboard ticking with accurate goal-kicking.

The Free Staters broke out of the blocks quickly against the Vodacom Blue Bulls as Joseph Dweba scored from enterprising play in the second minute, but the visitors cancelled this out in the 13th minute as Libbok crossed the chalk. The two converted tries proved to be the only points of the first half, which saw the teams enter the break level at 7-7.

The Toyota Free State Cheetahs again had the first say after the break as Shaun Venter touched down two minutes in, but penalties conceded and their second yellow card of the match disrupted their momentum as the match progressed.

The men from Pretoria, in turn, were dominant for remainder of the half and did well to capitalise on their point-scoring opportunities, which saw them add three tries – the last of which was on the stroke of full time for the bonus point.

The iCOLLEGE Pumas also relied on a strong second-half showing to outscore Tafel Lager Griquas five tries to three for their victory, as each scored only a single try in the first half, while two penalty goals by Smith nudged the hosts into a 13-7 halftime lead.

The home team added four tries in 22 minutes in the second half to stretch their score to 42 before the visitors fought back. The Kimberley side, however, fell just short of the bonus-point for tries in the final run of play after they failed to ground the ball conclusively.

Currie Cup Premier Division Round 1 results and scorers (click on the hyperlink for the full score sheet):

Toyota Free State Cheetahs 34 (7) Vodacom Blue Bulls 12 (7)

Toyota Free State Cheetahs – Tries: Joseph Dweba, Shaun Venter. Conversion: Tian Schoeman.

Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Manie Libbok, Penalty try, Jade Stiglingh, Divan Rossouw. Conversions: Libbok (3). Penalty Goals: Libbok (2).

iCOLLEGE Pumas 42 (13) Tafel Lager Griquas 19 (7)

iCOLLEGE Pumas – Tries: Chris Smith, Hennie Skorbinski, Stefan Ungerer, Neil Maritz, Marnus Schoeman. Conversions: Smith (4). Penalty Goals: Smith (3).

Tafel Lager Griquas – Tries: AJ Coertzen, Tiaan Meyer, Conway Pretorius. Conversions: George Whitehead (2).

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