Defending champions the Vodacom Bulls delivered a polished display to overpower the Toyota Cheetahs by 45-8 in Bloemfontein on Friday afternoon, with the men in blue leading by 31-3 at the break. They went on to score seven tries in total, with the Free Staters responding with one try and a penalty goal.
Former Junior Springbok front rankers Juann Else and Gcino Mdletshe were amongst the seven scorers for the Vodacom Bulls, while fullback Regan Izaks (three) and flyhalf Liam Koen (two) added five conversions amongst them.
Scrumhalf Murray Ferreira dived over for the home side and pivot Shaun Ray succeeded with a penalty goal for the Free Staters’ only points.
On Saturday, the Cell C Sharks ran riot against the Valke at the Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park for a 73-3 victory, scoring a total of 56 points with no reply in the second half after leading 17-3 at halftime.
Hooker Marnus Winter and inside centre Jurenzo Julius helped themselves to two tries each during this try-scoring festival, while flyhalf Stehan Heymans converted nine tries.
Also on Saturday, the Leopards could not contain a rampant DHL Western Province in the second half of their meeting in Potchefstroom, which finished 33-13 in favour of the Cape side.
Playing on their home ground, the Leopards managed to edge their visitors 13-7 at end of the first half, but they struggled to handle the Province in the second stanza and eventually lost the try tally by five to one, without adding to their first half score.
Three of DHL WP's tries were scored by their backs with midfielder Ulrich Wahl succeeding with two of their three successful conversions.
The Leopards had their tails up in the opening spell following a try by left wing Qhayiya Mduba, which Christiaan Gates converted, while he also sent two penalty goals through the poles to hand his team the halftime lead. However, their challenge faded in the second half as DHL WP came storming back to seal the win with four second half scores.
The unbeaten Cell C Sharks top the standings on 22 points from four wins and a draw, followed by the Vodacom Bulls on 20 points. The Lions, who had a bye this weekend, are third on 17, DHL WP improved to 16 points after their win in Potchefstroom, which was their sixth and final league game of the campaign.
The Toyota Cheetahs (10 points), Leopards (nine points) and the Valke (two points) are outside the top four.
This coming weekend will see the Vodacom Bulls completing their regulation games when they host the Valke in Pretoria, the Lions return to action as they host the Toyota Cheetahs in Johannesburg and the action will be completed the next day in Durban where the Cell C Sharks entertain the Leopards. The top two teams will meet in the final, scheduled for Thursday, 6 April.