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The Currie Cup Bulletin – Griquas surge to top spot

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It’s tough at the top, the saying goes. And that is true for the Currie Cup, where Griquas surged to the number one spot on Wednesday, but could see it slip away again in the coming days.

The men from the Northern Cape won their second big game on the road when they beat a 14-man Sigma Lions side in Johannesburg, but they are not in action this weekend and a number of teams will have their eyes on the top spot on the log.

Eduan Keyter’s try-scoring exploits at Emirates Airline Park equalled the Griquas record of four tries in a match, that is jointly held by Dave Prins, Jearus Nicholas and Bjorn Basson.

In Wednesday’s other match, the Toyota Cheetahs had too much fire-power for DHL Western Province and won their second match on the trot in Bloemfontein, bagging a try-scoring bonus point in the process.

Six teams are in action this weekend, with big matches scheduled to take place in Bloemfontein (Totoya Cheetahs v Cell C Sharks), Nelspruit (New Nation Pumas v DHL WP) and Pretoria (Vodacom Bulls v Sigma Lions).

SA Rugby also announced a decision on points allocation for the cancelled match between the Cell C Sharks and Vodacom Bulls – the score will be recorded as 0-0 and both teams will be awarded four log points each.

The Vodacom Bulls have also agreed to move their scheduled home fixture against the Cell C Sharks, on Friday 6 August, from Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria to Jonsson Kings Park in Durban, after the KwaZulu-Natalians have already had three of their home games cancelled this season.

Meanwhile, two crucial First Division matches will take place in the Eastern Cape for Friday afternoon, with Border and Eastern Province looking to keep alive their chances of reaching the semi-finals.

The Bulldogs host the Valke in East London (14h00), and the Elephants take on the SWD Eagles in Despatch (15h00), and on Saturday, the Leopards travel to Wellington to face the Boland Kavaliers (14h00) in an encounter that could determine who gets home ground advantage in the playoffs.

Cheetahs cut WP to pieces in Bloemfontein

The Toyota Cheetahs made it back-to-back Carling Currie Cup wins when they trumped DHL Western Province 38-21 in Bloemfontein on Wednesday, with the Free Staters’ captain, Ruan Pienaar, contributing 21 of their points.

Having secured their first win of the season against the New Nation Pumas in their previous outing – a nail-biting 17-16 triumph – tries by Duncan Saal, David Brits, Pienaar and Cohen Jasper saw the men from Bloem continue their upward curve in a big way.

Exceptional defence and the counter-attacking brilliance of Champion of the Match Clayton Blommetjies set them up for success and while they’re still at the bottom of the log and left with plenty of catching up to do, the emphatic upset keeps the Toyota Cheetahs in the hunt.

DHL WP failed to convert territorial supremacy into points in a first half they dominated but finished scoreless, didn’t get enough reward for the lion’s share of possession they had in the second stanza as well and slipped far too many tackles.

Scorers:

Toyota Cheetahs 38 (11) – Tries: Duncan Saal, David Brits, Ruan Pienaar, Cohen Jasper. Conversions: Pienaar (2), Reinhardt Fortuin. Penalty goals: Pienaar (4).

DHL Western Province 21 (6) – Tries: Evan Roos (2), Thomas Bursey. Conversions: Tim Swiel (2), Sacha Mngomezulu.

Four-try Keyter leads Griquas’ charge in Joburg

Griquas wing Eduan Keyter scored four tries as his side claimed their second successive big scalp away from home with a 41-31 victory over the Sigma Lions in a high-scoring Currie Cup match in Johannesburg on Wednesday afternoon.

The bonus-point win at Emirates Airline Park – two weeks after they beat DHL Western Province in Cape Town – shot Griquas to the top of the Currie Cup Premier Division log.

Three of Keyter’s four tries came after the home team were reduced to 14 men when EW Viljoen (fullback) was red carded for a dangerous tackle in the 54th minute.

Griquas took their opportunities, defended well and hit back by scoring almost every time they conceded points, while the Sigma Lions enjoyed the upper hand upfront, but could not make it count, while their discipline also let them down.

Scorers:

Sigma Lions 31 (12) – Tries: Morne van den Berg, Sti Sithole, Rabz Maxwane, Ruan Dreyer, Travis Gordon. Conversions: Jordan Hendrikse (3).

Griquas 41 (17) – Tries: Gideon van der Merwe, Eduan Keyter (4). Conversions: George Whitehead (5). Penalty goals: Whitehead (2).

Premier Division
With the halfway mark of the competition in sight, all teams in the Currie Cup Premier Division will know that slip-ups will become very costly from here on, especially since all seven teams bunched together in terms of log points.

The Toyota Cheetahs will be looking to build on the momentum they’ve created with wins in their last two matches when they host the Cell C Sharks on Saturday afternoon.

When these two sides met shortly after December holidays last year, also at the Toyota Stadium, the Free Staters caused a minor shock as they beat the KwaZulu-Natalians by 37-10, scoring four tries in the process and restricting their visitors to only one.

DHL Western Province have lost their last two matches and face the tough prospect of travelling to the Lowveld for a clash against a confident New Nation Pumas side at Mbombela Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

In December last year, the Capetonians won at a canter (28-14) at Newlands, with the visitors ruing a high penalty count, but despite losing their last match in the Currie Cup, the New Nation Pumas will be going into this clash with confidence as they are currently near the top of the log.

The final match of the weekend is a Jukskei Derby at Loftus Versfeld where the Vodacom Bulls and Sigma Lions will be going all out to stay in touch with the top four.

The men from Johannesburg will be hurting when they travel north after losing to Griquas on Wednesday, while the Vodacom Bulls will take some form into the match after they beat the SA ‘A’ team in Cape Town last weekend.

The last time they met in the Currie Cup was in the 2020 semi-finals, where the Vodacom Bulls beat their neighbours by 26-21 to progress to the final, which they won a week later in Pretoria.

Griquas have completed all their first-round matches and are not in action this weekend.

Match information:
Toyota Cheetahs v Cell C Sharks
Date: Saturday, 24 July
Venue: Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 14h30
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Referees: Local appointments
Television Match Official: Paul Mente
TV: SuperSport

New Nation Pumas v DHL Western Province
Date: Sunday, 25 July
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Kick-off: 13h00
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant Referees: Local appointments
Television Match Official: Stuart Berry
TV: SuperSport

Vodacom Bulls v Sigma Lions
Date: Sunday, 25 July
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 15h15
Referee: Paul Mente
Assistant Referees: Local appointments
Television Match Official: Marius van der Westhuizen
TV: SuperSport

First Division
The Border Bulldogs and Eastern Province both have ‘must-win’ matches on Friday if they are going to keep their slim chances of reaching the Currie Cup First Division semi-finals alive.

Both teams from the Eastern Cape are at home this weekend, with the sixth-placed Bulldogs hosting the Valke, who are in fourth place and will also be keen to grab the win, as it will put them in a position to possibly host a semi-final.

In Despatch, Eastern Province face their neighbours to the west, the SWD Eagles, who will be playing their last match of the season with the knowledge that nothing more than pride is on the line for them.

The Elephants, however, can’t afford to lose if they are going to finish in the top four after next weekend’s final round of action.

In the final match of the weekend, in Wellington on Saturday afternoon, third-placed Boland Kavaliers host the second-placed Leopards. With only one point separating them on the log, both sides will be going all-out to secure the win and keep them in the race to host one of the semi-finals.

The table-topping Down Touch Griffons have a bye this weekend.

Match information:

Border Bulldogs v Valke
Date: Friday, 23 July
Venue: Police Park, East London
Kick-off: 14h00
Referee: Phumzile Mbewu

Eastern Province v SWD Eagles
Date: Friday, 23 July
Venue: WJ de Wet Stadium, Despatch
Kick-off: 15h00
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge

Boland Kavaliers v Leopards
Date: Saturday, 24 July
Venue: Boland Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 14h00
Referee: Divan Uys

Source: Fatima Said and SA Rugby Communications


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