Polished performances by pre-tournament favourites East Rand Cranes Brakpan, Jonnson College Rovers, GAP Despatch and Rustenburg Impala saw them qualify for Saturday’s semi-finals of the inaugural Cell C Community Cup, being played at Outeniqua Park in George.
Despatch will face Impala and Rovers will play Brakpan to determine the finalist for the tournament showdown on Easter Monday.
In Thursday’s quarter-final action, the eight top sides from the pool phase took to the field to determine the pecking order of South African club rugby. All matches proved very competitive with some late tries in two matches giving those results a lop-sided appearance.
In the opening match of the day, East Rand Cranes Brakpan outplayed Roodepoort to the tune of 39-13 thanks to two tries in the last two minutes of the match. More accurate goal kicking proved the difference in the next two matches, where GAP Despatch won 33-25 against Pretoria Police and College Rovers edged out Durbanville-Bellville 27-17.
In the last match of the day, home side Pacaltsdorp Evergreens conceded four tries in the last 10 minutes to go down 50-10 to Rustenburg Impala.
Summary of the matches played on Thursday:
East Rand Cranes Brakpan 39 (12), Roodepoort 13 (3)
Two tries in the last two minutes of their clash against Roodepoort perhaps flatter Brakpan, but no one will deny that they were worthy winners of this match against their Gauteng neighbours.
The East Rand side showed more enterprise and willingness with the ball in hand and thanks to a stellar effort a very effective loose trio, outplayed their West Rand opponents.
Roodepoort played well in spurts, but could not sustain their efforts.
They opened the scoring through fullback Steve Griffiths, but a second effort was pulled to the left shortly thereafter.
Brakpan’s forward pack was getting the ascendency though and it was just a matter of time before their efforts were going to be rewarded.
This came after half an hour of play when the pack generated good momentum and livewire flanker Wikus van der Berg scored.
A try just before the break extended the Brakpan lead.
This was extended by a Charl Niewenhuis penalty, but then Roodepoort struck.
First a great run by Jesse Geyer opened up the Brakpan defence, with Nicky Kritzinger scoring and two minutes later Bryan Godfrey crossed the line following a strong run.
This only activated the Brakpan backline and winger Armand Steynvaart was worked over the corner.
Trailing 22-13 with minutes to play, Roodepoort tried to run from all over, but only succeeded to pass the ball to Jaco Lotter, who raced away to score the try that confirmed the result.
Brakpan 39 (12). Tries: Wikus van der Berg, Tobie Strydom, Armand Steynvaart, Roland Botes, Jaco Lotter. Conversions: Charl Niewenhuis (4). Penalties: Niewenhuys (2).
Roodepoort 13 (5). Tries: Nicky Kritzinger, Byron Godfrey. Penalty: Steven Griffiths.
GAP Despatch 33 (14) Pretoria Police 25 (7)
It was two traditional heavyweights in this competition and the match proved why. This result could have gone either way, but the Eastern Cape side showed more nerve and composure in the last twenty minutes when there was all to play for in a tight match.
Despatch started like a house on fire and scored early through big lock Ashley Viviers after a great run by winger Baldwin McBean opened up the Police defence.
A feature of this clash was the strong play by the wingers on both sides. Police left winger Michel Nienaber was lively all day and a strong run by him gave his side field advantage and they exploited that nicely when Hendrik van der Nest raced through to score under the poles.
Another feature was the brutal defence on both sides with big hits complimenting the defensive attitudes.
Despite their best efforts, the Pretoria side could not seal off their try line completely and winger Elcardo Mintoor scored in the corner when the Despatch efforts on attack were rewarded.
Police started the second half better. Dillon Laubscher kicked a penalty to close the deficit and when Pieter Strydom scored after a great turnover by flanker Louis van Biljon, they took the lead for the first time in the match.
It was short-lived however as Despatch worked the ball upfield with good interplay between backs and forwards, with prop Dewald Barnard finishing off the move with a powerful burst to the line.
Police again showed some grit and attacked well, but Despatch held out. A yellow card to Despatch gave Laubscher a change to trim the lead to one point with 20 minutes to play.
That was extended to six again when Despatch flanker Bobby Dyer finished off more good play by his industrious team mates.
Police did not take all their chances when presented and twice decided to go for attacking line-outs and not kick for poles.
Despatch did not and whilst flyhalf Ryan Brown managed to hit the uprights with a penalty attempt, halfback partner Marlon Lewis had no such problem with his snatch dropped goal.
This gave the Eastern Cape side more confidence and when Police frantically tried to close down the attacking space of their opponents, it gave Brown two chances to take the game away from Police. He did just that.
A try two minutes from time by Sibongile Njomba gave Police a last chance, but Despatch snuffed that out with dogged defence.
Despatch 33 (14): Tries: Ashley Viviers, Elcardo Mintoor, Dewald Barnard, Bobby Dyer. Conversions: Ryan Brown (2). Penalty: Brown (2). Drop Goal: Marlon Lewis.
Pretoria Police 25 (7): Tries: Hendrik van der Nest, Pieter Strydom, Sibongile Njomba. Conversions: Dillon Laubscher (2). Penalties: Laubscher (2).
Jonnson College Rovers 27 (16), Durbanville-Bellville 17(17)
The tournament favourites from Durban confirmed that reputation with a hard-fought win over the Western Province champions, who will regret one or two poor options that could have swung the match towards them.
It was clear though that whoever wants to win this inaugural tournament will have to beat the Rovers.
The match started well for the Capetonians, who scored early via flanker Gerrit Bekker and the conversion by Raynor Becker gave them a 7-0 lead.
This was cancelled out shortly afterwards when the Durbanites struck back though a wonderfully worked try by fullback Chris Jordaan, who weaved his way past a couple of defenders.
A head clash that saw both Wandile Mjekevu and Van Heerden Rust stretchered off slowed down both teams and some unforced errors on both sides thwarted point’s scoring opportunities. Durbell flanker Marius White did score just before the break and a successful conversion had his side in the lead when half-time was called.
The second half was a ding dong affair with both sides attacking well from all over the field.
A great break and try by midfielder Sergio Torrens proved to be the difference. After this, Durbell took numerous wrong options on defence, while Rovers stayed calm, with Chris Micklewood kicking two penalties to confirm their superiority.
College Rovers 27 (16). Tries: Chris Jordaan, Sergio Torrens. Conversion: Jors Dannhauser. Penalties: Chris Micklewood (3), Dannhauser (2).
Durbell 17 (17). Tries: Gerrit Theron, Marius White. Conversions: Raynor Becker (2). Penalty: Becker (1)
Rustenburg Impala 50 (14) Pacaltsdorp Evergreens 10 (10)
There was much expectation and support from the local Pacaltsdorp community for their Evergreens side, but hats off to the Rustenburg side who stuck with their game plan and strengths.
An early score by Evergreens had the crowd and band going, but Impala slowly but surely worked their way back into the match.
Their veteran flyhalf, Naas Olivier, kicked superbly to the poles and for touch and this rallied his team mates.
The second half proved a bridge too far for the willing home side.
Impala used their gameplan effectively and finished off their chances. Olivier kept directing play by changing the angle of attack and his educated tactical boot, while Evergreens were looking for the glamorous options too often.
This overly ambitions play did not show on the scoreboard and instead allowed Rustenburg to score a couple of break-away tries, which effectively killed off the George side.
The last quarter of the match created great excitement to the home crowd, as their team attacked from all angles, but basic errors side proved to be the difference as the Northwest team scored three tries from the resulting turn-overs.
Rustenburg Impala 50 (14). Tries: Alf Ries, Chanley Williams, Jermaine Apollis, Leon du Plessis (2), Marcel Esterhuyse. Conversions: Naas Olivier (4). Penalties: Olivier (4).
Evergreens 10 (10). Try: Gavin Delport. Conversion: C-Than Moos. Penalty: Moos.
•The schedule for Saturday 30 March:
Match 45 – Pacaltsdorp Evergreens vs. Pretoria Police (kick-off: 12h45)
Match 46 – Roodepoort vs. Durbanville-Bellville (kick-off: 08h45)
Match 47 – Rustenburg Impala vs. GAP Despatch (Cup Semi-final 1; kick-off: 14h45)
Match 48 – East Rand Cranes Brakpan vs. Jonsson College Rovers (Cup Semi-final; kick-off: 10h45)