In Durban, the Cell C Sharks made a strong start to down the defending champions, the Vodacom Bulls, by 29-7 in their third-round clash, and in the remaining fixture the Toyota Cheetahs outplayed the Leopards 43-38 in Potchefstroom. The Valke had a bye.
DHL WP, runners up in 2021 and 2022, could not recover from a 21-12 halftime deficit mainly as a result of their high penalty count, despite two tries by Junior Bok loose forward Paul de Villiers and SA U18 hooker Luca Bakkes before the break.
Marno Grobbelaar (hooker) helped himself to a brace of tries for the Lions, but it was the kicking boot of Sam Francis that proved to be the difference between the sides, as the Highvelders’ flyhalf added a conversion to his five successful penalty goals for a personal tally of 17 points.
The Cell C Sharks led 16-7 at halftime in their clash with the Vodacom Bulls, and managed to keep the Pretoria side scoreless in the second half to register a superb 29-7 triumph in Durban.
Flyhalf Jean Smith converted both their tries while he also hit the mark with five penalty goals for a personal contribution of 19 points, while loose forward Neels Volschenk scored the blue jerseys’ solitary try, which was converted by scrumhalf Neil le Roux.
Toyota Cheetahs edged the Leopards 43-38 in a high-scoring match in Potchefstroom. The two sides were tied 26-all at the halfway stage, but it was the Free Staters who pulled away in the second half to outscore the hosts by seven tries to six to clinch this very entertaining affair.
Leopards left wing Qhayiya Mduba went over for two tries and fullback JP Brits succeeded with four conversions.
For the Toyota Cheetahs, scrumhalf Liam de Wet scored two tries and flyhalf Tiaan Kriek slotted three of the conversion kicks.
So, after three rounds, the Lions top the log with 14 points from their three wins. They are followed by the Toyota Cheetahs on 10 points from their two victories, while the Vodacom Bulls slipped to third place on 10 points from three matches.
The Cell C Sharks are on nine points from two games, the Leopards on four from three games, DHL WP on one point from three games and the Valke are yet to open their account after two games.
In next weekend’s round four action, the Lions host the Cell C Sharks in Johannesburg, the Valke return from their bye and have a home fixture against the Leopards in Vanderbijlpark, while the Toyota Cheetahs entertain DHL WP in Bloemfontein. The Vodacom Bulls have a bye.