The two most successful teams in Vodacom Cup history, GWK Griquas and the Golden Lions, will contest the 2014 final after both won their semi-finals away from home this weekend.
In both matches, the team that scored more tries were knocked out and the points’ difference in the semi-finals in Nelspruit and Pretoria was a single point.
On Friday evening in Nelspruit, the Steval Pumas lost their first match of the season when they went down by 14-15 to four-time champions, GWK Griquas, after a last-minute penalty goal by fullback Gouws Prinsloo.
The visitors to the Mbombela Stadium had the best possible start when flyhalf Francois Brummer put them ahead by 3-0 after only 20 seconds with a well-struck drop-goal.
It was in all likelihood the quickest first-class drop-goal in the history of South African rugby. GWK Griquas turned over possession after kicking off. Brummer’s right foot connected with the ball on 18 seconds and two seconds later, the ball bounced on and over the crossbar.
On 22 September 2009, Willem de Waal slotted a droppie for the Toyota Free State Cheetahs after only 22 seconds in an Absa Currie Cup match against DHL Western Province.
Brummer’s drop and two further penalty goals saw GWK Griquas lead by 9-3 at the break after they played classic knock-out rugby in the first half.
The home team clawed their way back strongly in the second half. Steval Pumas flank and captain, Corné Steenkamp, went over after a superb line-out drive with 13 minutes left and they and took a 14-12 lead six minutes later when flyhalf JC Roos slotted his third penalty goal.
But Prinsloo had the last say and he made no mistake to ensure GWK Griquas will host their fifth Vodacom Cup final next weekend.
On Saturday afternoon at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, the Golden Lions ensured they will have an opportunity to defend their 2013 title when they knocked out the Vodacom Blue Bulls by 16-15.
Flyhalf Willie du Plessis, a product of Affies in Pretoria who still played for the Vodacom Blue Bulls last year, kicked 11 points for the visitors as they basically had the match under control from start to finish.
Golden Lions wing Selom Gavor scored their only try late in the first half, but the Vodacom Blue Bulls hit back a few minutes later when inside centre Burger Odendaal exploited poor defence by the visitors to score a converted try.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls edged their way back into contention, but they struggled to finish. Du Plessis kicked his third penalty with eight minutes left in the match, but the home team again came back strongly when replacement flank Roelof Smit was driven over.
Tian Schoeman failed to add the conversion and the Golden Lions held out to go through to their second consecutive Vodacom Cup final.
All the Scorers:
Steval Pumas 14 (3) GWK Griquas 15 (9)
Steval Pumas – Try: Corné Steenkamp. Penalty goals: JC Roos (3).
GWK Griquas – Penalty goals: Gouws Prinsloo (4). Drop-goal: Francois Brummer
Vodacom Blue Bulls 15 (7) Golden Lions 16 (10)
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Burger Odendaal, Roelof Smit. Conversion: Tony Jantjies. Penalty goal: Jantjies.
Golden Lions – Try: Selmo Gavor. Conversion: Willie du Plessis. Penalty goals: Du Plessis (3).