THE race for Cell C Community Cup Easter play-off places was blown wide open on Saturday, with a last-minute missed conversion in New Brighton township and a remarkable come-from-behind victory on the East Rand capping a dramatic afternoon of club rugby across the country.
A second try to flying Spring Rose wing Siviwe Moyake in the 78th minute set up a nailbiting conclusion to their Pool A match against Border champions Kempston Old Selbornians, but the large crowd at the New Brighton Oval were left stunned when flyhalf Thulani Meki missed the conversion to give the visitors a 20-19 win.
And in Pool C, surprise package Roses United, the Boland champions, clawed their way back from a 17-0 deficit in spectacular style when they scored 31 unanswered points, including two tries to wing Brendon April, against Kaufela Boksburg to run out 50-36 winners and shoot to the top of the log.
Roodepoort, thanks to a hat-trick from flanker Jaun Shaw, and Bloemfontein Crusaders came away from Welkom with bonus-point victories over E-Car Welkom and Eagle Towing Rovers respectively to lead the standings in Pool B, while Rustenburg Impala and Hamiltons emerged as the heavyweights of Pool D with impressive wins against spirited opponents.
Impala, who finished fourth in the inaugural Community Cup, were made to work hard for a 41-17 victory against Shumba Ferros in Emalahleni in which flanker Justin Wheeler scored a brace, while Hamiltons overcame a slow start against Griquas champions Aveng Moolmans Sishen before running in seven tries in a 48-9 victory in Green Point.
And defending champions Gap Management Despatch sent out a clear message that any team wanting to lift the priceless Gold Cup on Easter Monday will have to get through them first, Adri Geldenhuys's team overcoming a vociferous 2,600-strong home crowd to score eight tries – including a hat-trick for former Springbok Sevens wing Baldwin McBean – against SWD champions Bridgton on a sweltering afternoon in Oudtshoorn.
Elsewhere there was also an impressive win for newcomers Refreshhh! Centurion, who kicked off their campaign with a 46-22 victory over BB Truck Noordelikes in Pool C.
Centurion's victory now sets up an intriguing clash in Wellington this coming weekend against Roses United, who will become the first team to qualify for George should they overcome the highly physical Blue Bulls open club champions.
All club rugby roads will lead to the Boland on Saturday as Wesbank are also at home, with a full day of fixtures against Hamiltons building up to their keenly anticipated Community Cup clash at the Wesbank Sports Grounds in Malmesbury at 16h00.
Bloemfontein Crusaders will also fancy their chances this Saturday against Jonsson College Rovers, with victory over the KZN champions at their fortress of Clive Solomon Stadium likely to set up a tense race for play-off spots in Pool B.
And with Spring Rose suffering their second defeat in Pool A, Mossel Bay Barbarians will travel to Despatch knowing that a shock upset over the champions in their backyard will shorten the odds on a local team qualifying – as Evergreens did last year – for next month's Easter play-offs at Outeniqua Park in George.
This weekend's seven matches will however be teed up by an historic first-ever live broadcast of a club match on a Thursday night, when G5 Metals Brakpan host Kaufela Boksburg in the traditional East Rand derby (SuperSport 1 & HD, kick-off 18h00). The match will be preceded by the second episode of the Cell C Community Cup TV show, which will once again show highlights from all the weekend's action.
Full Results, Round 2:
Bridgton (0) 7 – Try: Algernon Waarts. Conversion: Adriaan Booysen.
Gap Management Despatch (28) 54 – Tries: Baldwin McBean (3), Bobby Dyer, Billy Mentoor, Elroy Ligman, Monty Dumond, Trichardt van Tonder. Conversions: Dumond (7).
Spring Rose (14) 19 – Tries: Siviwe Moyake (2). Penalties: Thulani Meki (3).
Kempston Old Selbornians (15) 20 – Tries: Craig Shone, Duran Alberts, Michael Amui. Conversion: Shone. Penalty: Shone.
E-Car Welkom 0
Roodepoort (35) 75 – Tries: Chanley Williams, Gerhard Scholtz, Jaun Shaw (3), Jesse Geyer, Junior Gray, Lesego Malau (2), Nicky Cronje, Thys de Villiers. Conversions: Williams (5), Hennie Oosthuizen (5).
Bloemfontein Crusaders 29
Eagle Towing Rovers 21
Kaufela Boksburg(22) 36 – Tries: Ashwill Adams, Calvin Jantjies, Dean Swart, Etienne Taljaard, Wynand Venter. Conversions: Ashley Buchler (4). Penalty: Buchler.
Roses United (14) 50 – Tries: Brendon April (2), Denver Fortuin, Reinart Ellmann, Tiaan Ramat (2), penalty try. Conversions: Ryan Julies (6). Drop goal: Julies.
Refreshhh! Centurion (26) 46 – Tries: Cornelius Pieterse, Paul Jacobs, Rohann Stroh, Ryno Coetzee, Sylvester Booysen, Wilmar Keyter. Conversions: Stanley Twiname, Steven Moir (4). Penalties: Twiname, Moir.
BB Truck Noordelikes (10) 22 – Tries: Gert van der Merwe, Johan de Beer, Theyman Jongbloed. Conversions: Zander Byleveldt (2). Penalty: Byleveldt.
Hamiltons (17) 48 – Tries: Greg van Jaarsveld, Herman Botha, Iewan Bartels, JG Giliomee (2), Stefan de Villiers, Terry Jacobs. Conversions: Shane Vallender (5). Penalty: Vallender.
Aveng Moolmans Sishen (9) 9 – Penalties: AJ Bloem (3).
Shumba Ferros 17
Rustenburg Impala 41