Cape Town - The defending Currie Cup Premier Division champions, the Free State Cheetahs, continued to stamp their authority early on in SA’s premier domestic competition this weekend to remain the only unbeaten team after two matches in the series.
The Free State Cheetahs' effective rounding off earned them a 30-17 victory against Western Province in Bloemfontein on Sunday, while the Golden Lions survived a determined fightback from Griquas at Ellis Park to secure a 48-43 victory on Saturday.
In the other match, the Sharks secured a 29-0 victory against the Pumas at Kings Park, while the Blue Bulls had a bye.
The first half between the Free State Cheetahs and Western Province was competitive despite the Capetonians dominating possession, with the hosts taking an 18-10 lead at the break thanks to two tries and two penalty goals to one of each by the visitors.
They continued to make good use of their opportunities in the second half and added two more tries for their bonus point and a 30-10 lead. Springbok Sevens player Rosko Specman was instrumental in their skilful attacking display thanks to his bursts of pace and fantastic passing. Western Province hit back in the last quarter, but they were only able to add one more converted try for their efforts, which took their score to 17 points.
The clash between the Golden Lions and Griquas was thrilling as the teams ran hard on attack throughout the match, which saw an exciting 13 tries being scored and both sides earning bonus points for tries. The Johannesburg team showed patience on attack throughout the match and capitalised on their try-scoring chances, which earned them five tries to the Kimberley side’s three in the first half and a 32-24 lead.
They stretched it to 45-25 minutes into the second half with back-to-back tries by Madosha Tambwe. But Griquas fought back strongly with three tries in a row to trail 45-43 with four minutes left. However, a late penalty goal steered the hosts to a 48-43 victory.
The Sharks, meanwhile, forced their way to a 29-0 bonus-point victory against the Pumas despite an error-riddled performance, which denied them from scoring a handful of tries throughout the match. The Sharks came within striking range of the tryline on a few occasions in the first half, but they were only able to score a penalty goal.
They improved their finishing in the second half and scored four tries, while they denied the Mpumalanga side from scoring a single point for the 29-0 victory.
With the Lions and Crusaders meeting in the Super Rugby final on Saturday 5 August at 16h00, the Sharks will meet Griquas in the only Currie Cup match on Friday 4 August at 19h00, while Western Province will meet the Pumas at 13h00 and the Blue Bulls will take on the Golden Lions at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria at 19h00 on Saturday respectively.
Summary of final results and scorers in round two:
Free State Cheetahs – Tries: William Small-Smith, Francois Venter, Rosko Specman, Makazole Mapimpi. Conversions: Niel Marais (2). Penalty Goals: Niel Marais (2).
Western Province - Tries: Justin Phillips, Stephan De Wit. Conversions: Kurt Coleman, Brandon Thomson. Penalty Goals: Kurt Coleman.
Golden Lions – Tries: Pieter Jansen, Jarryd Sage, Jacques Nel, Madosha Tambwe (2), Jaco Van der Walt, Aphiwe Dyantyi. Conversions: Shaun Reynolds (5). Penalty Goal: Shaun Reynolds.
Griquas: Tries: Christiaan Meyer (2), George Whitehead, Renier Botha, Enver Brandt, Ederies Arendse. Conversions: George Whitehead (5). Penalty Goal: George Whitehead.
Sharks: Tries: Sbusiso Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am, Jeremy Ward, Kobus van Wyk. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (3). Penalty Goal: Curwin Bosch.