Jonsson College Rovers kicked off the inaugural Cell C Community Cup with an impressive win over GAP Despatch, while there were also impressive wins for wild cards African Bombers, Raiders and Roses United on the opening weekend of the new 20-team national tournament.
Rovers were clinical in the opening match against Despatch at Kings Park 3, scoring four tries to two to grab a five-point haul ahead of their 2000km return journey to fellow Pool A opponents Aveng Moolmans Sishen in Kathu next Saturday.
The Durban-based outfit, who in the process notched their 80th victory in 84 matches dating back four seasons, held a 13-3 lead at the break before pulling away in the second period with centre Sergio Torrens, replacement back Kyle Wilkinson and scrumhalf Tian Meyer dotting down to go with the try scored by flanker Murray Bondesio in the first stanza. Fullback Jors Dannhauser weighed in with 15 points by way of three penalties and three conversions.
And in Zwide Stadium in Port Elizabeth, wild cards African Bombers caused the biggest upset of the weekend when two tries from fullback Xolela Payi and 19 points from the boot of mercurial flyhalf Masixole 'Coyi' Banda gave them a 35-22 win over Welkom Rovers.
There were also wins for the two other wild cards in action in Round 1, Raiders running out 45-12 winners over BB Truck Noordelikes in a Pool C encounter played in Polokwane, while in Wellington Roses United beat White River 65-36 in a thrilling encounter at Pelican Park.
The most dramatic result came in nearby Worcester, where Boland champions Villagers Worcester scored a try at the death to beat Griquas champions Aveng Moolmans Sishen 24-20.
And in Pretoria, home side Police held out for a bonus-point 35-26 victory against Durbanville-Bellville on the Loftus Versfeld B field.
Leading 27-7 at halftime thanks to a brace of tries from Ruan van Loo and one just before the break by Luka van Biljon the Bobbies seemed to be cruising to an easy win over the team they knocked out at the quarterfinal stage of last year's Club Championships.
But Durbell fought back in fine style with tries from Divan Batt and Raynor Becker immediately upon resumption to close the gap to six points. Michael Nienaber dived over for the home side's fourth try but Jody Reynecke scored a brilliant individual try to reduce the deficit once again with 15 minutes left on the clock.
Flyhalf Dylan Laubscher slotted his third penalty for a tally of six out of seven for the day to stretch the advantage to nine points with only a few minutes remaining. Despite a valiant effort from the Western Province club to secure a second losing bonus point, Police stopped the traffic to bag a full house of points and kick off their campaign in fine style.
Full Results, Round 1:
Pool A – Jonsson College Rovers 38-17 GAP Despatch (EP); Villagers Worcester 24-20 Aveng Moolmans Sishen.
Pool B – Pretoria Police 35-26 Durbanville-Bellville; African Bombers 35-22 Welkom Rovers.
Pool C – Rustenburg Impala 24-13 Roodepoort; BB Truck Noordelikes 12-45 Raiders.
Pool D – Roses United 65-36 White River; Broubart Old Selbornian 8-15 Brakpan.
Fixtures, Round 2 – Sat 23 Feb:
Match 9 – Aveng Moolmans Sishen vs Jonsson College Rovers (Sivos Stadium, Kathu)
Match 10 – SK Walmers vs Villagers Worcester (Green Point Track, Cape Town)
Match 11 – Durbanville-Bellville vs African Bombers (Durbanville-Bellville Rugby Club, Cape Town)
Match 12 – Welkom Rovers vs Bloemfontein Police (Rovers Rugby Club, Welkom)
Match 13 – Roodepoort vs BB Truck Noordelikes (Rand Leases Sports Grounds, Roodepoort)
Match 14 – Raiders vs Bloemfontein Crusaders (Bill Jardine Stadium, Johannesburg)
Match 15 – Brakpan vs Roses United (Bosman Stadium, Brakpan)
Match 16 – White River vs Evergreens (White River Rugby Club, White River)