ROODEPOORT and defending champions Gap Management Despatch qualified for the Cell C Community Cup Easter play-offs on a drama-filled weekend of pool action, with a last-gasp draw in another match ensuring that the race to George will go right down to the final round early next month.
Golden Lions champions Roodepoort came from behind to score 10 points in the final two minutes of their Pool B match against Eagle Towing Rovers in Welkom to run out 37-31 victors and so book their place in the last eight of SARU's national championship for non-university clubs, which will take place at Outeniqua Park in George over the Easter long weekend, from 17-21 April.
And Despatch were too good for Mossel Bay Barbarians, flyhalf Monty Dumond scoring 16 points in his side's 31-5 win in front of 2,500 home fans on sweltering day at the WJ de Wet Stadium. Further up the coast in East London, Kempston Old Selbornians announced themselves as Despatch's possible main rivals for Pool A honours, with a 43-7 win over SWD champions Bridgton. Bradley Birkholtz and Craig Gombert each scored a brace for the home side, with Craig Shone kicking 16 points.
The results mean that Old Boys' match in Mossel Bay this weekend against Barbarians will most likely decide which of the two join Despatch in George, with the SWD wild cards desperate to emulate their provincial counterparts Evergreens, who reached the top eight in 2013.
Another showdown looms in Pool B, where Roodepoort and Jonsson College Rovers clash on Saturday in a match at Rand Leases that will decide who finishes top of Pool B. Rovers, fielding six players who are just 20 years of age, scored 12 tries – three to veteran wing Dusty Noble – to run out 78-14 winners over Bloemfontein Crusaders at the Clive Solomon Stadium in Heidedal.
And in Pool C, a last-gasp penalty from centre Stanley Twiname gave Refreshhh! Centurion a 26-all draw against unbeaten log leaders Roses United at Pelican Park in Wellington. The result means that Roses, for whom eighthman Thurlow Marsh scored a hat-trick, are in pole position to qualify for George, leaving Centurion and G5 Metals Brakpan to fight it out for the second spot. Adding spice to this permutation is that Centurion host Brakpan, who finished third last year, in the final round, while Roses must travel away to bottom-placed BB Truck Noordelikes, who will want to finish on a high and who may yet upset the apple cart in terms of qualifying places.
Pool D looks set to be just as tight, with Hamiltons going top after a 41-12 win over Wesbank in front of 2,500 fans in Malmesbury, ahead of Rustenburg Impala on points difference. The pool will only be decided on the final weekend, when Impala host Hamiltons in a keenly anticipated fixture in North West, but the miners will have to first travel to Malmesbury this coming Saturday, where they will likely face a Wesbank side who are able to welcome back a host of first-choice players unavailable for the Hamiltons clash.
Full Results, Round 2:
Gap Management Despatch (17) 31 – Tries: Basil de Doncker, Monty Dumond, Renier Erasmus, Stephan Deyzel. Conversions: Dumond (4). Penalty: Dumond.
Mossel Bay Barbarians (5) 5 – Try: Logan Hendricks.
Kempston Old Selbornians (36) 43 – Tries: Bradley Birkholtz (2), Craig Gombert (2), Curtis Kleinhans. Conversions: Craig Shone (2). Penalties: Shone (4).
Bridgton (0) 7 – Try: Grahame September. Conversion: Rhupino Plaatjies.
Bloemfontein Crusaders (7) 14 – Tries: Isak Job, Jonathan Boucher. Conversions: Deon Taljaard (2).
Jonsson College Rovers (24) 78 – Tries: Dusty Noble (3), Edlyn Serge, Jared Chiocchetti, Jean Pretorius, Jeandre Small, Kirk Twine, Kyle Wilkinson, Quinton Crocker, Shannon Rick, Warren Randall, Warrick Venter. Conversions: Jors Dannhauser (8), Noble.
Eagle Towing Rovers (3) 31 – Tries: Pieter Strydom, Robbie Ntlantsana, Shaun Nieuwenhuyzen, Wayne Ludick. Conversions: Strydom (4). Penalty: Strydom.
Roodepoort (6) 37 – Tries: Jaun Shaw (2), Jesse Geyer. Conversions: Chanley Williams (2). Drop goal: Andre Esterhuizen.
G5 Metals Brakpan (23) 48 – Tries: Dean van der Merwe, Tommy Damba, Tobie Strydom, Wikus van der Berg. Conversions: Gido Horn (4). Penalties: Horn (5).
Kaufela Boksburg (10) 23 – Tries: Ashwill Adams, Marius Matthee. Conversions: Ashley Buchler (2). Penalties: Buchler (3).
Roses United (12) 26 – Tries: Kelvin Fikster, Thurlow Marsh (3). Conversions: Ryan Julies (3).
Refreshhh! Centurion (7) 26 – Tries: Christiaan Burger (2). Conversions: Steven Moir (2). Penalties: Moir (2), Stanley Twiname (2).
Aveng Moolmans Sishen (20) 35 – Tries: AJ Bloem, Aubrene Tities, Jamie Zwiegelaar, Pieter van Aarde, Ruan Grobler. Conversions: Bloem (2). Penalty: Bloem. Drop goal: Tiaan le Roux.
Shumba Ferros (15) 29 – Tries: MC Botes (2), Henson Ngozo, Tommie Collen. Conversions: Dewald Pieters (2), Jan Adriaan van der Merwe. Penalty: Pieters.
Wesbank (0) 12 – Tries: Ghriswin Swarts, penalty try. Conversion: Dashton Wellman.
Hamiltons (12) 41 – Tries: Tapiwa Tsomondo (2), Niel Cleghorn, Jody Burch, Iewan Bartels, Craig Pheiffer, Attie Winter. Conversions: Shane Vallender, Janno van Zyl (2).