Tafel Lager Griquas reclaimed the top spot on the standings in the Currie Cup with a bonus point 37-15 victory against the Vodacom Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, seriously denting the Pretorians’ playoff aspirations.
The win for the men from Kimberley in the DirectAxis Financial Services-sponsored competition marked their third victory in four games, while the defeat for the hosts left them at the foot of the log with one win in four outings.
Tafel Lager Griquas flyhalf George Whitehead played a vital role in the result and was in sublime kicking form – which earned him three penalty goals and four conversions for a personal total of 17 points.
The visitors from the Northern Cape built up an encouraging 20-10 lead in a scrappy first half which was riddled by handling errors and ill-discipline, and this despite Ederies Arendse (winger) being yellow carded in the 13th minute for an intentional knock-down.
Former Junior Springbok scrumhalf Zak Burger scored a brace for the Kimberley side, while Whitehead kept the scoreboard ticking with two penalty goals and two conversions.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls opened up the scoring in the fourth minute when Springbok Sevens speedster Rosko Specman finished off a stunning long-range try in the fourth minute after a great break and switch pass from his fellow-Blitzboks team-mate Dylan Sage. Manie Libbok (flyhalf) then added a penalty goal minutes later to hand them a 10-0 lead.
Tafel Lager Griquas, however, bounced back with intent with Burger scoring his first try in the 18th minute from some good passing and support running, and he added his second several minutes later from a well-timed backdoor pass from Arendse, which handed them a 14-10 lead.
Whitehead added two penalty goals in the last 10 minutes of the half to stretch their lead to 20-10. In stark contrast to the visitors, the Vodacom Blue Bulls created chances and got close to the tryline on a few occasions, but they battled to convert them into points – and this continued to haunt them throughout the match. Their decision to turn down numerous kickable penalties throughout the match also didn’t assist their cause.
The Gauteng side’s efforts finally paid off in the 52nd minute when Springbok flanker Marco van Staden touched down from a powerful rolling maul.
But that proved to be their last points of the match as Whitehead extended his team’s lead with his third penalty goal with minutes to play, and Victor Sekekete (lock) added the team’s bonus point try from a pick-and-go in the 77thminute, which sealed a rewarding 37-15 victory for the visitors.
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Rosko Specman, Marco van Staden; Conversion: Manie Libbok; Penalty goal: Libbok.
Tafel Lager Griquas – Tries: Zak Burger (2), Eduan Keyter, Victor Sekekete; Conversions: George Whitehead (4); Penalty goals: Whitehead (3).