They may not find themselves in the national spotlight nearly as often as a Hamiltons or a College Rovers, but this weekend’s match between Kuruman and Kimberley Police is shaping up as one of the most keenly-anticipated contests on a packed Saturday of club action.
The Kimberley Bobbies made history in last year’s Griquas Super League final, played at the Kuruman showgrounds, when they became the first team in South African rugby history to win a match by way of a penalty shoot-out.
Kuruman, who had beaten Kimberley 41-19 in the league phases, were on the brink of claiming the title and so representing Griquas at the SARU National Club Championship when they led 27-22 deep into injury time.
But a try from the last movement of the game by veteran Kimberley wing Willie van den Bergh forced the game into extra-time. With the scores still locked at 27-27 after 100 minutes, and with dusk already having fallen, it was Kimberley flyhalf Jacques Roberts who held his nerve in the fading light to slot four out of four and so give his team an historic victory.
“I’ll never forget that game as long as I live,” said Kimberley tighthead prop Pieter Streak. “This weekend we’re looking forward to another very physical encounter.”
But Kimberley Police’s season ended on altogether lower note when they were dumped out of the Club Champs in Stellenbosch after conceding a century of points against eventual champions NWU Pukke.
“It wasn’t a great way to end off but we basically went to Stellenbosch with a new team,” said Kimberley skipper Rohan Victor. “There was an Amateur Week taking place at the same time and half our team was playing there. It was a tough tournament for us.”
Victor said things were looking promising ahead of the 2012 season, with a number of new faces having joined the club. “We’ve got a young team but we’re confident,” said the flanker. “It’s difficult for us to build a team because the Super League is so short. We play the other five teams once, then there’s a final and our season is over in June already.
“We then have to keep the guys motivated for a couple of months before the Club Champs. There is talk of us playing more matches against Toyota Free State and Griffons teams but petrol is a big cost factor. We played against some Bloem sides in pre-season and it certainly helps when you play competitive matches regularly,” added Victor.
Elsewhere around the country, leagues resume in all provinces after the Freedom Day long weekend break. The big match up north on Saturday is in the Blue Bulls’ Carlton League, where Centurion host Pretoria Police in a top-of-the-table clash that could well see the winner represent the province at the Club Champs in Rustenburg from 15-21 September.
With university teams excluded from this year's Club Champs, Varsity Cup winners Tuks, currently in third place, remain determined to win more silverware before the season is over. Their next match is against struggling TUT, who are winless after three games.
Varsity rivals UJ get their league season underway on Saturday when they travel to Pirates in the Golden Lions Predator and Grand Challenge league.
Down south, log leaders Villagers Worcester host Robertson in a top-of-the-table Boland Premier League match that may very well decide who goes to the Club Champs.
Gardens host Despatch and African Bombers host defending champions Park in the pick of Eastern Province Grand Challenge games on Saturday, while in Cape Town all eyes will be on log leaders Maties, who travel to Constantia to take on False Bay.
• For all the latest nationwide fixtures, results & logs from leagues in all 14 provinces, visit www.sarugby.co.za and click on the Club Rugby menu. On Twitter, follow: @saclubrugby