The GWK Griquas will play in the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division this season after outplaying the SWD Eagles 57-12 (half-time 31-0) in their vital qualifying match at Outeniqua Park in George on Saturday.
The dominant Griquas scored their bonus try before halftime already and led 31-0 at the break.
Griquas had to win with a four-try bonus point to ensure that they could not be caught by the chasing Leopards, who were second on the log heading in to the final week of qualifying matches and just one point behind. Griquas finished the qualifiers unbeaten after six matches.
The Leopards won five of their six matches, losing their decider 33-32 against Griquas.
On Saturday in Potchefstroom, the Leopards crushed the Border Bulldogs 103-15 after leading 54-3 at halftime already.
Junior Springbok wings Luther Obi and Sylvian Mahuza helped themselves to four tries each. However, their efforts proved to be fruitless in the end after a determined Griquas outfit had easily outplayed the Eagles in their televised clash.
Griquas were dominant from the start at picturesque Outeniqua Park and they wrapped up the crucial bonus-point try in the first half when No 8 Carel Greeff and hooker Ryno Barnes each scored two tries.
In the remaining fixture played on Friday afternoon, the Down Touch Griffons overcame a 10-point deficit on their way to a 29-20 (halftime 7-10) win over the Valke in Welkom.
Griquas finished on 28 points, followed by the Leopards on 27, the Down Touch Griffons (18), SWD Eagles (15), Boland (12), Valke (10) and Border (2).
SWD EAGLES 31 (0) GWK GRIQUAS 57 (31)
Griquas opened their account early in the first half after scrumhalf Tian Meyer collected his chip kick with Barnes on hand to crash over from a ruck. They grabbed their second try five minutes later after Greeff had muscled his way.
SWD had no answer to Griquas’ pace and power and they conceded their third try in the 28th minute, when outside centre Jonathan Francke broke from a ruck to sprint clear for a converted try.
Griquas scored that vital fourth try two minutes later when right wing Ederies Arendse scooped up a loose ball to dot down in the corner, stretching the lead to 24-0. Greeff collected his second try just before the break when he powered his way over after a scrum.
Four minutes after the break tighthead prop Maks van Dyk crashed over for a converted try after good work from flank Marnus Schoeman.
The visitors continued to run rampant and they added further tries through Schoeman, Barnes and Meyer. Right wing Hentzwill Pedro and replacement loose forward Christo du Plessis scored two late consolation tries for SWD.
SWD Eagles – 12 (0) Tries: Hentzwill Pedro, Christo du Plessis; Conversion: Elric van Vuuren.
GWK Griquas – 57 (31) 12 (0) Tries: Ryno Barnes (2), Carel Greeff (2), Jonathan Francke, Ederies Arendse, Maks van Dyk, Marnus Schoeman, Tian Meyer; Conversions: Francois Brummer (2), Nico Scheepers (4).
LEOPARDS 103 (54) BORDER BULLDOGS 15 (3)
The Leopards were in rampant mood as they crushed last-placed and winless Border. Wings Obi and Mahuza were the standout players with four tries each.
George Tossel (2), Hoffman Maritz, Dillon Smit, Morne Hanekom, Francois Robertse and Kobus de Kock all joined in the try feast. Captain and former Springbok Andre Pretorius kicked 28 points.
Border took heart when Masixole Banda slotted a penalty after two minutes, but that was the last they were to see of the ball until half-time, when the Leopards were eight tries and 54-3 up already.
The Bulldogs did salvage some pride when Michael Makase and Bangi Kobese scored.
The free scoring Leopards came very close to promotion as they produced the two top try-scorers, Obi and Mahuza with 10 apiece, the highest number of try bonus points (7), the most tries (51) and the best points difference.
Leopards – 103 (54) Tries: Luther Obi (4), Sylvian Mahuza (4), George Tossel (2), Hoffman Maritz, Dillon Smit, Morne Hanekom, Francois Robertse, Kobus de Kock. Conversions: André Pretorius (14)
Border – 15 (3) Tries: Michael Makase, Bangi Kobese. Conversion: Masixole Banda. Penalty: Masixole Banda
DOWN TOUCH GRIFFONS 29 (7) VALKE 20 (10)
The Griffons found themselves trailing by 10 points three minutes into the second half but they fought their way back in to the contest with two late tries to clinch the tie. Inside centre Japie Nel ran in two tries for the hosts who finished third on the log.
Nel scored the first points of the match before the Valke struck back with a try via pivot Jaun Kotze. Kotze finished the game with 15 points courtesy of a try, two penalties and two conversions.
Kotze kicked a penalty on the stroke of halftime to give the visitors a narrow three-point lead. The Valke stretched their lead to 10 points when fullback Kyle Hendricks dived over.
This shocked the Griffons into action and replacement flyhalf Louis Strydom narrowed the gap with a penalty kick four minutes later. They were level a few minutes later thanks to a converted try from big lock Armandt Koster.
Kotze kicked a second penalty for the Valke. However, the rest of the match belonged to the Griffons who scored two more tries through flank Eric le Roux and Nel.
Down Touch Griffons – 29 (7) Tries: Armandt Koster, Erik le Roux, Japie Nel (2); Conversions: Louis Strydom (2), Pieter-Steyn de Wet; Penalty: Strydom.
Valke – 20 (10) Tries: Jaun Kotze, Kyle Hendricks; Conversions: Kotze (2); Penalties: Kotze (2).