The Griffons assured themselves of a semifinal place with an impressive 39-29 win (half-time 20-22) over the Ford Pumas in their Absa Currie Cup First Division match at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday.
The Pumas began the match assured of a top-two finish on the log but the Griffons began the final round-robin match needing a win to be sure of their place in the semifinals.
The Griffons began the weekend in fourth place, five points ahead of the SWD Eagles who did their best to play their way into the semis by claiming a bonus-point win over the Valke in a match that kicked off at the same time as the Pumas-Griffons clash.
But the Griffons made sure of their playoff place by running in five tries to four to upset the more fancied Pumas who were playing at their own ground.
The match was a personal triumph for Griffons flyhalf Hansie Graaf who scored in every way possible as he scored a try and kicked four conversions and penalty and a drop goal for a tally of 19 points.
The Pumas had held the edge at half-time as the moved into a 22-20 lead after tries from outside centre Ashwin Scott, scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and flank Renaldo Bothma.
The Griffons replied with tries of their own through left wing Shane Hancke and scrumhalf Inus Kritzinger but they had Graaf’s boot to thank for keeping them in the game.
However, the Griffons took the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half and they scored straight from the kick-off when right wing Cameron Jacobs scooted over for a converted try.
Graaf dotted down himself 10 minutes later as the Griffons roared into a 34-22 lead.
The Pumas did manage to cut the deficit when replacement scrumhalf Shaun Venter slid over for a converted try in the 64th minute.
But the Griffons were not to be denied and they made sure of the victory in the 75th minute when replacement lock Gavin Annandale rumbled over for an unconverted try.
FORD PUMAS – Tries: Ashwin Scott, Faf de Klerk, Renaldo Bothma, Shaun Venter; Conversions: Naas Olivier (3); Penalty: Olivier.
GRIFFONS – Tries: Shane Hancke, Inus Kritzinger, Cameron Jacobs, Hansie Graaf, Gavin Annandale; Conversions: Graaf (4); Penalty: Graaf; Drop goal: Graaf