The Fidelity ADT Lions opened the weekend’s third round action on Friday afternoon with a morale-boosting 41-26 comeback win over NovaVit Griffons.
That encounter was followed by the big clash in Bloemfontein where log-leaders, the Toyota Cheetahs, defeated the Vodacom Bulls 32-7 and after that, the Airlink Pumas remained unbeaten with a 28-13 win over the Windhoek Draught Griquas in Nelspruit.
The weekend’s last game was staged on Sunday afternoon in Durban, where the Cell C Sharks outscored their coastal rivals DHL Western Province by 20-7.
After three rounds, the Toyota Cheetahs still top the league table with a full house of 15 points, one more than the second-placed Airlink Pumas. The Cell C Sharks move into third spot on 10 points while DHL WP move down a spot although they also have 10 points, but a weaker points’ difference.
The Fidelity ADT Lions (eight points), Windhoek Draught Griquas (five), Vodacom Bulls (one) and NovaVit Griffons (no points) complete the standings.
In next weekend’s round-four action, the NovaVit Griffons face Vodacom Bulls in Welkom on Friday (15h00); the Toyota Cheetahs host the Airlink Pumas on the same day in Bloemfontein (17h05); the Fidelity ADT Lions welcome the Cell C Sharks to Johannesburg on Saturday (15h30); and DHL WP entertain Windhoek Draught Griquas in Cape Town (19h15).
Elsewhere, the Currie Cup First Division continued with the opening round of the Mzansi Challenge, with wins for the SWD Eagles and Border Bulldogs.
Fidelity ADT Lions recover from slow start against NovaVit Griffons
The Fidelity ADT Lions shrugged off a poor first half to record a vital 41-26 comeback win over the gritty NovaVit Griffons in Johannesburg on Friday afternoon, with former Junior Springbok scrumhalf Nico Steyn scoring three of the Highvelders' six tries.
NovaVit Griffons scrumhalf Jaywinn Juries contributed 16 points via the boot to the tally of the purple jerseys, consisting of two conversions and four penalty goals.
The Welkom side played superbly in the opening stanza to build a deserving 23-12 lead at the break. However, the home side tightened up on their discipline in the second half to restrict the Northern Free Staters to just one successful penalty during that period.
While the home side managed to sort their disciplinary issues which proved costly in the first half, the roles were reversed after the break, and as a result, the NovaVit Griffons had to play for 20 minutes with 14 men for picking up two yellow cards.
This ultimately halted their momentum as the Highvelders made their numbers count by sending Steyn over three times in quick session to snatch their first league win.
Fidelity ADT Lions 41 (12) – Tries: Sibusiso Sangweni, Stean Pienaar, Nico Steyn (3), Reinard Roets. Conversions: Vaughen Isaacs (4). Penalty goal: Tiaan Swanepoel.
NovaVit Griffons 26 (23) – Tries: Marquit September, Dandre Delport. Conversions: Jaywinn Juries (2). Penalty goals: Juries (4).
Toyota Cheetahs hunt down Vodacom Bulls to stay top
The Toyota Cheetahs outmuscled the Vodacom Bulls 32-7 in their early evening Friday clash in Bloemfontein, a result that condemned the Pretoria side to their third straight defeat.
The hosts led 15-7 at the break and went on to continue their dominance in the second stanza to bag a third successive bonus-point victory.
With Ruan Pienaar again instrumental for the Free Staters, they pinned the blue jerseys in their own half for most of the time and were clinical when presented with scoring opportunities. This resulted in five tries, while Pienaar added two conversions and a penalty goal.
Toyota Cheetahs 32 (15) – Tries: Gideon van der Merwe, Marnus van der Merwe, Munier Hartzenberg, Sibabalo Qoma, Cohen Jasper. Conversions: Ruan Pienaar (2). Penalty goal: Pienaar.
Vodacom Bulls 7 (7) – Try: Jan-Hendrik Wessels. Conversion: Franco Knoetze.
Airlink Pumas too strong for Windhoek Draught Griquas
The Airlink Pumas outplayed the Windhoek Draught Griquas 28-13 in Nelspruit in their rematch of last year's historic Currie Cup final.
The first half was a real arm wrestle and Mpumalanga side led 7-3 at the break. They pulled away in the second half to finish with three tries, two conversions and a penalty goal. The men from Kimberley replied with a converted try and two penalty goals.
Playing in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Mbombela Stadium, the Lowvelders came alive in the second half to streak away for a vital win, despite losing influential flyhalf Tinus de Beer for 10 minutes following a yellow card for an illegal tackle.
Airlink Pumas 28 (7) – Tries: Etienne Taljaard, Brandon Thomson, Andre Fouche. Conversions: Tinus de Beer (2). Penalty goals: De Beer (2), Thomson.
Windhoek Draught Griquas 13 (3) – Try: Carl Els. Conversion: Lubabalo Dobela. Penalty goals: Dobela (2).
Cell C Sharks bounce back to beat DHL WP in Durban
The Cell C Sharks ended DHL Western Province’s winning start to the campaign with a 20-7 triumph in Durban on Sunday afternoon, after leading 13-7 at halftime.
The black and white jerseys scored three times and slotted a conversion and penalty goal, while the Capetonians could only respond with a converted try.
Fullback Yaw Penxe was pick of the bunch for the Durban outfit as his two tries paved the way for an important home win.
The blustery conditions led to errors on both sides, which made for a tough arm wrestle in the second half as witnessed by Penxe’s rather fortuitous try when two DHL WP players collided with each other, leaving the fullback with an easy touch down.
Cell C Sharks 20 (13) – Tries: Yaw Penxe (2), Phikolomzi Sobahle. Conversion: Fred Zeilinga. Penalty goal: Zeilinga.
DHL Western Province 7 (7) – Try: Fazeel Robertson. Conversion: Kade Wolhuter.
Currie Cup First Division / Mzansi Challenge
The Currie Cup First Division continued with the opening round of the new Mzansi Challenge, with the SWD Eagles and Border Bulldogs triumphant.
Incredibly, there were no score at halftime between SWD and Eastern Province, however, the second half action was a completely different story as the Eagles romped home by a try tally of five to two in their 36-23 win.
Flyhalf Sergio Stalmeester succeeded with a conversion and penalty goal while Adriaan van der Bank (replacement flyhalf) kicked a further three conversions. EP flyhalf Masixole Banda converted both their tries and also hit the target with three penalty goals.
Border led the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias 18-14 at halftime and both teams went on to score three tries apiece in the end, with the Bulldogs winning by 26-21. However, the outcome of the game was determined by the kicking boot of Border pivot Aphiwe Stemele, who hit the mark with a conversion and three penalty goals.
The Nambian side's flyhalf Andre van der Berg converted all three their tries, however, his side's discipline eventually cost them, with Stemele punishing them for their indiscretions.
The Valke match against the San Clemente Rhinos did not take place because of player eligibility concerns. SA Rugby is investigating the circumstances and will follow the applicable disciplinary processes that may arise once all information has been gathered.
Next weekend, the Kenyan Simbas take on the Boland Kavaliers in Cape Town, Valke host the Border Bulldogs in Kempton Park, and the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias and SWD Eagles square off in Windhoek.