The KwaZulu-Natalians took some time to get into the contest against the NovaVit Griiffons on Friday. A fine second-half performance, however, earned them a win as well as a bonus-point.
Windhoek Draught Griquas did the Cell C Sharks a favour when they held the Toyota Cheetahs to a draw in Bloemfontein on Saturday. Thanks to that result, the KwaZulu-Natalians have overtaken the Free Staters at the top of the standings.
The Toyota Cheetahs managed to accumulate three log points from the draw. The upshot is that they are just two log points behind the Cell C Sharks with two rounds to play, and still very much in the hunt for a home semi-final.
The Airlink Pumas suffered a campaign-threatening loss to the Vodacom Bulls on Saturday. The defending champions currently sit in third place in the standings, and are five log points behind the second-placed Free Staters.
The scrap for fourth spot took another interesting turn over the weekend. Due to the shock losses for the home teams in Cape Town and Nelspurit, three sides – DHL WP, the Fidelity ADT Lions and the Vodacom Bulls – sit on 31 log points after 12 rounds. DHL Western Province remain in fourth place by virtue of their superior points difference.
Windhoek Draught Griquas aren’t out of the playoff race either. While they are currently in seventh place, they are one log point behind the aforementioned trio, and six behind the third-placed Airlink Pumas. They could climb the rankings if they upset DHL WP in the next round.
Meanwhile, two matches were played in the Currie Cup First Division and Mzansi Challenge on Saturday, after the clash between the Simbas and the Valke was cancelled. The Leopards romped to a 43-16 bonus-point win against the Border Bulldogs in East London. Up in the Namibian capital, the Boland Kavaliers scored five tries in their 38-17 victory over the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias.
Cell C Sharks fire late to secure sixth-straight victory
The Cell C Sharks hit back after trailing at half-time to claim a 35-9 bonus-point win against the NovaVit Griffons in Welkom on Friday.
The game was in the balance in the first half. Lionel Cronjé converted his own try, but Jaywinn Juries’ three penalty goals ensured that the hosts went to the break with a 9-7 lead.
Thereafter, the Cell C Sharks cut loose to score four converted tries. Springbok prop Ntuthuko Mchunu’s score in the 63rd minute earned his team the four-try bonus point, while Nevaldo Fleurs’s subsequent surge sealed another fine victory – the Durbanites’ sixth on the bounce.
NovaVit Griffons 9 (9) – Penalty goals: Jaywinn Juries (3).
Cell C Sharks 35 (7) – Tries: Lionel Cronjé, Yaw Penxe, Mpilo Gumede, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Nevaldo Fleurs. Conversions: Cronjé (5).
Fidelity ADT Lions clinch crucial bonus-point win
The Fidelity ADT Lions scored four tries in the 32-12 win against DHL WP on Friday to keep their slim playoff chances alive.
The visitors enjoyed the best possible start after Edwill van der Merwe crossed the line. The speedster scored his second try in the 36th minute, before the hosts clawed their way back into the contest.
DHL WP were awarded a penalty try on the stroke of half-time, and Fidelity ADT Lions prop Ruan Dreyer was sent to the sin bin. The visitors went to the break with a modest 17-12 lead.
The side from Johannesburg shifted gears after half-time, with flanker Ruan Venter scoring a brace. Sanele Nohamba kept the scoreboard ticking over via his accurate kicking boot, and finished the game with a personal tally of 10 points.
DHL WP 12 (12) – Tries: Mnombo Zwelendaba, Penalty try.
Fidelity ADT Lions 32 (17) – Tries: Edwill van der Merwe (2), Ruan Venter (2). Conversions: Sanele Nohamba (2), Andries Coetzee. Penalty goals: Nohamba (2).
Toyota Cheetahs snatch late draw
Ruan Pienaar kicked an 81-minute penalty goal to earn the Toyota Cheetahs a 29-29 draw with Windhoek Draught Griquas in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The visitors led for much of the first half. The Free Staters hit back either side of half-time, though, and the scores were level as the match entered a nail-biting final quarter.
George Whitehead slotted a penalty goal in the 71st minute to put his team in front. The hosts had the final say, though, with Pienaar showing his nerve to kick a three-pointer at the death.
While the result sees the Toyota Cheetahs dropping down the Premier Division standings into second place, the draw and the four-try bonus point ensured that they finished the fixture with three log points.
Toyota Cheetahs 29 (19) – Tries: Sibabalo Qoma, Cohen Jasper, Marnus van der Merwe, Gideon van der Merwe. Conversions: Ruan Pienaar (3).
Windhoek Draught Griquas 29 (23) – Tries: Janco Uys, Dylan Sjoblom. Conversions: Lubabalo Dobela (2). Penalty goals: Dobela (3), George Whitehead (2).
Goosen guides Vodacom Bulls to victory in Nelspruit
Johan Goosen scored 14 points in the Vodacom Bulls’ 24-17 win over the Airlink Pumas in Nelspruit on Saturday.
Despite two early penalty goals by Tinus de Beer, the Vodacom Bulls took control of the contest in the first half and went to the break with a 14-9 lead.
The hosts scored a try through Devon Williams in the 64th minute. With the scores level at 17-17, a crucial match in the context of the Premier Division standings was set for a grandstand finish.
David Kriel scored his second try of the match in the 71st minute, and Goosen added the extras to give the visitors a seven-point buffer. From there, the Vodacom Bulls hung on to secure an important result.
Airlink Pumas 17 (9) – Try: Devon Williams. Penalty goals: Tinus de Beer (4).
Vodacom Bulls 24 (14) – Tries: David Kriel (2), Johan Goosen. Conversions: Goosen (3). Penalty goal: Goosen.