Sharks win will open the door for Bloem semi-final

2010-10-04 00:00

THE Blue Bulls and the Free State Cheetahs gained crucial weekend wins to ensure they will join the log-leading Sharks and Western Province in the Currie Cup semi-finals on October 16.

The Sharks will definitely host the one semi-final — probably against the Blue Bulls at King’s Park — with Western Province likely to be at home to Free State in the other play-off.

The Bulls, down 3-16 shortly before the break, mounted a stunning comeback to beat Western Province 36-32 at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday while Free State ended the Lions’ semi-final challenge with a 43-37 win in Bloemfontein.

The victories leave the Bulls fourth (on points difference) with the Cheetahs third. Both sides are still two log points behind Province.

If Province beat the Sharks this Saturday, they will take second spot, but a defeat will open the door for Free State, who should easily beat the Leopards in the final round, to finish as runners-up.

Province looked to have the beating of the Bulls in the first half, but the Pretoria side scored just before half-time and then again immediately after the break when Bok centre Jean de Villiers was in the sin bin following a late and high challenge.

Springbok stars Gio Aplon and Juan de Jongh scored tries for Province while Willem de Waal kicked six penalties and two conversions. Blue Bulls flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter kicked four penalties and three conversions while flank Okkie Kruger, centre Stefan Watermeyer and Springbok fullback Zane Kirchner added tries for the Bulls.

In Bloemfontein, Free State scored six tries — by Ashley Johnson (2), Hennie Daniller, Adriaan Strauss, WP Nel and Phillip Snyman — while Louis Strydom kicked two penalties and two conversions while Meyer Bosman added one penalty.

The willing Lions achieved two bonus points — for scoring four tries, and for losing within seven points — but they made too many mistakes in the closing quarter and the strong-finishing Free Staters came through for a tense win.

Griquas winger Bjorn Basson scored twice and equalled the Currie Cup try-scoring record (19) held by former Western Province wing Carel du Plessis in his side’s 61-31 away victory over the Pumas. But the victories of the Bulls and Cheetahs eliminated Griquas from the semi-final race, leaving them in sixth place on the log.

Saturday’s points-scorers

Blue Bulls (36) – Tries: Okkie Kruger, Stefan Watermeyer and Zane Kirchner; Conversions: Jacques-Louis Potgieter 3; Penalties: Jacques-Louis Potgieter 4; Drop-goal: Jaco van der Westhuyzen. Western Province (32) – Tries: Juan de Jongh and Gio Aplon; Conversions: Willem de Waal 2; Penalties: Willem de Waal 6.

Cheetahs (43) - Tries: Hennie Daniller, Ashley Johnson (2), Adriaan Strauss, WP Nel, Phillip Snyman. Conversions: Louis Strydom (2). Penalties: Strydom (2), Meyer Bosman. Lions (37) - Tries: Burton Francis, Joshua Strauss, Edgar Marutlulle, Michael Killian. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (4). Penalties: Jantjies (3).

Pumas (31) — Tries: Corné Steenkamp (2), Elgar Watts, Hendrik van der Nest, Shaun Venter. Conversions: Watts (2), Ricardo Croy. Griquas 61 — Tries: Barry Geel, Bjorn Basson (2), Naas Olivier, Riaan Viljoen, Rocco Jansen, Ryno Barnes, Sarel Pretorius, Wesley Wilkins. Conversions: Olivier (7), Rudi Vogt.

 

This weekend’s fixtures (home team first):

Friday: Lions vs Pumas (7.10pm); Leopards vs Free State (7.00pm).

Saturday: Griquas vs Blue Bulls (3.00pm); Western Province vs Sharks (5.05pm).

 

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