The Xerox Golden Lions, the DHL Western Province and the Cell C Sharks all recorded their second wins in as many weeks in the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division over the weekend to occupy the three top spots on the log standings.
After suffering a shock opening round defeat against the Steval Pumas last weekend, the Toyota Cheetahs registered their first win of the campaign when they won 34-27 against the GWK Griquas on Saturday in Bloemfontein.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls and the Kings are both winless after two rounds, placing them at the bottom end of the table.
The Golden Lions hammered the EP Kings 60-19 in Johannesburg to lead the log standings on point difference. Province, last year’s log winners and beaten finalists, won 41-17 in front of their home fans at DHL Newlands.
The Cape side scored six tries against their Pretoria rivals and they also have 10 points from two games and are placed second the log.
On Friday evening, the Cell C Sharks overcome a brave Steval Pumas outfit to win 34-17 in their encounter in Durban thanks to a late surge in the second half which resulted in four tries and a vital bonus-point victory. They have nine points and moved into third spot on the table.
Xerox Golden Lions 60, EP Kings 19
Jaco Kriel scored a hat-trick of tries as the Xerox Golden Lions romped the EP Kings 60-19 (halftime 25-7) at in Johannesburg on Saturday, leaving the Kings winless after two rounds.
Flanker Kriel turned in a barnstorming performance as he wrapped up his hat-trick in just 44 minutes with the hosts running in nine tries in total.
EP had made a fast start to the match when scored after just two minutes through right wing Ronnie Cook, who went over between the posts for a converted try after a 50-metre dash.
The home team struck back two minutes later when outside centre Stokkies Hanekom dotted down for a converted try.
The Kings were rocked when flank Thembelani Bholi was yellow-carded in the 22nd minute for a repeated infringement. The hosts were quick to take advantage and they kicked to the corner and from the resultant penalty Kriel was mauled over for a try.
When left wing Ruan Combrinck grabbed their third try in the 29th minute, the Golden Lions were firmly in control and 17-7 ahead.
Flyhalf Jaco van der Walt added a penalty kick before the Lions wrapped up the bonus-point for scoring four tries when Kriel barged his way over in the 38th minute, giving the home team a commanding 18-point lead at halftime.
They began the second half in a similar rush and Kriel grabbed his hat-trick just four minutes after the restart.
The hosts were now running rampant and flank Derick Minnie crashed over in the 52nd minute for a converted try.
However, the Kings refused to give in and managed to reduce the deficit to 39-12 when replacement number eight Aidon Davis, a Junior Springbok in 2013/14, was mauled over for a try in the corner.
The Golden Lions re-established their dominance as replacement lock Willie Britz and fullback Andries Coetzee ran in tries before EP fullback Scott van Breda scored a try which he converted, in the 70th minute. Golden Lions replacement and Springbok Sevens Commonwealth Games gold medal winner Kwagga Smith grabbed a debut try as the home team finished on a high.
Xerox Golden Lions 60 – Tries: Stokkies Hanekom, Ruan Combrinck, Jaco Kriel (3), Derick Minnie, Willie Britz, Andries Coetzee, Albertus Smith; Conversions: Jaco van der Walt (6); Penalty: Van der Walt.
EP Kings 19 – Tries: Ronnie Cook, Aidon Davis, Scott van Breda; Conversions: Gary van Aswegen, Van Breda.
DHL Western Province 41 Vodacom Blue Bulls 17
DHL Western Province scored three tries either side of halftime as they crushed the Vodacom Blue Bulls 41-17 (halftime 19-6) in a thrilling encounter at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.
Province ran in six tries through Pat Cilliers, Michael Rhodes, Nizaam Carr, Juan de Jongh and a brace from Springbok Sevens flyer Seabelo Senatla, while replacement hooker Bongi Mbonambi scored a consolation try for the visitors.
However, despite their second bonus-point victory in a row, WP coach Allister Coetzee will be worried about the yellow card count that his side are racking up.
WP picked up three yellow cards against the EP Kings last week and found themselves with another two sin-bins when Manuel Carizza and Kobus van Wyk spent time off the field for infringements.
The Bulls were not without their own troubles as JJ Engelbrecht and Grant Hattingh were both sin-binned for similar offences.
Senatla scored his from a quick penalty and after had got the better of two defenders, which Dimitri Catrakilis converted.
Jacques Louis Potgieter then kicked the first of his four penalties after Province were caught offside. Catrakilis kicked a penalty to the corner and from the resulting lineout, Siya Kolisi was brought down just short of the line but Cilliers picked up and drove over the line for his first try in Province colours.
Catrakilis again slotted the conversion but Potgieter hit back within minutes with his second penalty. A while later live Province No 8 Nazeem Carr dived to give WP a 19-6 lead at the break.
The visitors made a strong start to the second half with Potgieter landing two penalties within five minutes of the restart to bring the Bulls within seven points of their hosts.
Catrakilis traded a penalty to extend the lead to 10 points. Province took a quick throw in from where Senatla scored his second try of the day. Rhodes then drove for the line and after a TMO referral, the flanker was awarded the try with Catrakilis converting for a 24-point cushion.
Once all the yellow carded players had returned from their respective sin-bins, the Bulls managed to cross the line through Mbonambi.
Kolbe showed some brilliant footwork before he fed captain, Juan de Jongh, for WP’s sixth try.
DHL Western Province 41 – Tries: Seabelo Senatla (2), Pat Cilliers, Nizaam Carr, Michael Rhodes, Juan de Jongh; Conversions: Dimitri Catrakilis (4); Penalty: Catrakilis.
Vodacom Blue Bulls 17 – Try: Bongi Mbonambi; Penalties: Potgieter (4).
Toyota Free State Cheetahs 34 GWK Griquas 27
In Bloemfontein, home team the Toyota Free State Cheetahs bagged their first victory of the competition this year when they defeated GWK Griquas by 34-27 on Saturday afternoon.
Griquas got off to good start when they got their first points as early as the eight minute. Centre and captain, Wayne Stevens scored the first try of the afternoon and fullback Nico Scheepers.
FS Cheetahs flyhalf Elgar Watts slotted over a penalty in the 18th minute to reduce the deficit to four points.
It was also Watts that scored the first try for the hosts when jotted down in the 25th minute. His converted effort put the Cheetahs ahead by three points. S
crumhalf Sarel Pretorius increased their lead with his unconverted try to make the halftime score 15-7 in favour of the FS Cheetahs.
After the break winger Rayno Benjamin scored in the 47th minute and Watts converted to stretch the lead to 12 points.
Griquas got one back when flanker Marnus Schoeman scored to cut the deficit to seven points. However, the visitors were reduced to 14 payers after prop Steph Roberts was yellow carded following a driving maul.
The FS Cheetahs secured the victory in the 65th minute thanks to a good try by former Junior Springbok wing Raymond Rhule. Rhule later got his second of the afternoon before Griquas prop Maks van Dyk scored a consolation try with five minutes remaining.
Toyota Free State Cheetahs - 34 (15): Tries: Elgar Watts, Sarel Pretorius, Rayno Benjamin, Raymond Rhule (2). Conversions: Watts (2), Willie du Plessis. Penalty: Watts.
GWK Griquas - 24 (10): Tries: Wayne Stevens, Marnus Schoeman, Maks van Dyk, Ederies Arendse. Conversions: Nico Scheepers, Marais Schmidt. Penalty: Schmidt