It was a weekend of big wins in the Currie Cup Premier Division, but Easter also delivered some season-firsts as the Vodacom Bulls broke their duck in round five, while the defending champion Airlink Pumas suffered their first defeat of 2023.
The men from Pretoria finally got their first win of the season as they beat last year’s runners up, Windhoek Draught Griquas, by 40-3 at Loftus Versfeld to move up from last position on the log.
In Friday’s second game, the Cell C Sharks had to dig deep to beat the Airlink Pumas by 19-12 at Hollywoodbets Kings Park, despite the visitors scoring a try and getting awarded a penalty try to the hosts’ solitary five-pointer.
Saturday’s match in Cape Town was a high-scoring affair as DHL Western Province bounced back from defeat last weekend to secure victory over the NovaVit Griffons in an 11-try encounter at DHL Stadium.
The final clash of the weekend was on Sunday, when the Toyota Cheetahs made the most of their numerical advantage to beat the Fidelity ADT Lions by 52-15 at Emirates Airline Park.
The Airlink Pumas still occupy top spot on the log with 20 points, the same at the Toyota Cheetahs whose points difference is lower than that of the team from Mpumalanga. DHL WP (15) are in third, and they are followed by the Cell C Sharks (14), Fidelity ADT Lions (13), Windhoek Draught Griquas (10), Vodacom Bulls (8) and NovaVit Griffons (6).
Two matches were played in the Currie Cup First Division and Mzansi Challenge. The Valke recorded a big win in Namibia over the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias (48-24), while the SWD Eagles won a tight affair over the San Clemente Rhinos in George (28-26).
Vodacom Bulls storm to first win of the season
The Vodacom Bulls scored six unanswered tries as they romped to a 40-3 win over the Windhoek Draught Griquas for their first Currie Cup win of the 2023 season in Pretoria on Friday evening.
The hosts chose a strong team for this encounter in an effort to halt their four-match losing streak, and the selection certainly had the desired effect as they dominated possession and territory from the outset with their powerful forward play and strong running backs.
The Vodacom Bulls scored their first try after just six minutes when lock Ruan Vermaak burst his way through the defence to dive over, with Chris Smith slotting the first of his five conversions.
Pivot George Whitehead got the men from Kimberley on the scoreboard with a penalty goal, but that was it for the visitors as the home side’s Mornay Smith (prop) burrowed his way over from close range for their second try, after which they added another four to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Vodacom Bulls 40 (26) – Tries: Ruan Vermaak, Mornay Smith, Cyle Brink, Embrose Papier, David Kriel, Gerhard Steenekamp. Conversions: Chris Smith (5).
Windhoek Draught Griquas 3 (3) – Penalty goal: George Whitehead.
Cell C Sharks hunt down champions in Durban
The Cell C Sharks delivered a gutsy performance to topple the defending Currie Cup champions, the Airlink Pumas, by 19-12 in Durban on Friday evening.
The hosts led 16-0 at halftime having scored a converted try by scrumhalf Tiaan Fourie in the 10th minute, and three Fred Zeilinga penalty goals while they managed to keep their visitors scoreless during that time.
However, the visitors from Mpumalanga played much better after the break and “won” the second half by 12-3, but it wasn’t enough and even though they had a one-man advantage for the last 30 minutes as a result of a Cell C Sharks red card, the Airlink Pumas just could not get their free flowing, attacking game going.
Cell C Sharks 19 (16) – Try: Tiaan Fourie. Conversion: Fred Zeilinga. Penalty goals: Zeilinga (4).
Airlink Pumas: 12 (0) – Tries: Penalty try, Llewellyn Classen.
DHL WP beat NovaVit Griffons in high-scoring match in Cape Town
DHL Western Province outlasted the NovaVit Griffons by 47-28 in a high-scoring affair in Cape Town on Saturday night, with the hosts scoring seven tries while their visitors responded with four in a match that saw the team in purple again start brightly, but found a counter-punching home team just too slick on the evening.
Both teams scored two tries at DHL Stadium in the first half, with the visitors leading by 14-12 when former Griffons schoolboy star, Keke Morabe, had the last say as his first try handed DHL WP a 19-14 lead at the break.
A try by Juan de Jongh extended the home side’s lead, but the NovaVit Griffons came to play and they cut the lead to five points with Marquit September’s second try. Morake then bagged his brace on the hour, but again the visitors fought back, this time with a bonus point try by replacement flyhalf Robbie Petzer.
Not to be outdone by his No 8, former Blitzbok speedster Angelo Davids got his second to extend the lead to 12 points again before lock Ruben van Heerden sealed the deal with a try in the closing minutes.
DHL Western Province 47 (19) – Tries: Angelo Davids (2), Keke Morabe (2), Ruben van Heerden, Juan de Jongh, Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu. Conversions: Kade Wolhuter (6).
NovaVit Griffons 28 (14) – Tries: Marquit September (2), CJ Coetzee, Robbie Petzer. Conversions: Jaywinn Juries (4).
Toyota Cheetahs win big in Johannesburg
The Toyota Cheetahs bounced back to winning ways with a 52-15 win over a Fidelity ADT Lions side that saw Raynard Roets red carded at the end of the first half, after which the visitors pulled away in Johannesburg.
The hosts started well when Darrien Landsberg went over in the second minute, and when his lock-partner was given his marching orders for dangerous play at a ruck, the Toyota Cheetahs were leading by only 14-10 having scored two tries to one.
However, they added six more five-pointers to their tally to leave Emirates Airline Park with a full-house of five log points to cement their second place on the standings.
There were three yellow cards in the match as well – two of those to the visitors – but the red card proved more costly as Toyota Cheetahs fullback Tapiwa Mafura ran riot, scoring a hat-trick of tries, while Jeandre Rudolph chipped in with a brace for the team in orange.
Fidelity ADT Lions 15 (10) – Tries: Darrien Landsberg, Michael van Vuuren. Conversion: Vaughen Isaacs. Penalty goal: Isaacs.
Toyota Cheetahs 52 (19) – Tries: Tapiwa Mafura (3), Jeandre Rudolph (2), Marko Janse van Rensburg, Daniel Maartens, Louis van der Westhuizen. Conversions: Ruan Pienaar (4), Reinhardt Fortuin, Cohen Jasper.