With a week of league action left, no team will go into the Vodacom Cup playoffs unbeaten after the Sharks XV and the Steval Pumas’ impressive winning runs came to an end over the weekend.
Five teams have booked their places in the quarter-finals – the Steval Pumas and Vodacom Blue Bulls in the North Section, and the Sharks XV, defending champions DHL Western Province and ICBC Pampas XV in the South Section.
Three teams will fight it out for the last two playoff spots in the North – the Leopards XV, GWK Griquas and MTN Golden Lions. And in the South, the final place in the top four will go to the EP Kings or the Toyota Free State XV, with situation not looking good for the latter.
On Friday evening, the MTN Golden Lions kept alive their chances of reaching the quarter-finals by beating the pace-setters in the North Section, the Steval Pumas, by 23-14 in Nelspruit.
It was an inspired performance by the MTN Golden Lions to beat the table-topping team from Mpumalanga at the Mbombela Stadium, with their flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff contributing 13 points through a flawless kicking display, which included a good drop-goal. Flankers Jaco Kriel and Derick Minnie, who will tour with The Sharks to Australasia in the next month, scored the visitors’ tries.
The EP Kings reversed a 12-point half-time deficit to beat the Sharks XV by 27-23 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday afternoon, all but assuring the team from Port Elizabeth a place in the quarter-finals.
The hosts scored three tries in the second half tries as they handed the Sharks XV their first defeat of the season.
Also in the South Section, the Border Bulldogs ended their losing spell when they beat the Regent Boland Cavaliers by 26-25 in East London on Friday. The difference was a late penalty goal by Karlo Aspeling after both teams had scored three tries apiece at the Buffalo City Municipality Stadium.
The ICBC Pampas XV managed to fend off a spirited second-half fightback by the Toyota Free State XV to win a thrilling Vodacom Cup encounter by 38-32 in Stellenbosch on Saturday, while DHL Western Province got a bonus-point in their 34-27 win over the SWD Eagles in the Strand.
In the North Section, GWK Griquas stretched their winning streak over the Leopards XV to eight matches when they won an entertaining match between these two teams by 32-26 in Kimberley on Saturday. The result saw the Northern Cape team move to fourth on the log, while the Leopards XV dropped down to third on the standings.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls beat their northern brothers, the Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls, by 110-0 in Lephalale on Saturday. Flyhalf Willie du Plessis scored 40 points – including converting 15 of his team’s 16 tries – for the Pretorians as the men from Far North suffered their fourth defeat by more than 100 points this season.
The Down Touch Griffons kept alive their slim hopes of reaching the quarter-finals thanks to a hard-earned 17-6 win over the Valke at the North West Stadium in Welkom on Friday.
All the scorers:
EP Kings 27 (3) Sharks XV 23 (15)
EP Kings – Tries: Ntabeni Dukisa, Siyanda Grey, Stefan Willemse. Conversions: Dukisa, Kayle van Zyl (2). Penalties: Dukisa, Van Zyl.
Sharks XV – Try: Guy Alexander. Penalties: Fred Zeilinga (6).
ICBC Pampas XV 38 (28) Toyota Free State XV 32 (10)
ICBC Pampas XV – Tries: Manuel Montero (2), Rodrigo Bruno, Tomas Cubelli, Facundo Barrea (2). Penalties: Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias. Conversions: Iglesias (5).
Toyota Free State XV – Tries: Boom Prinsloo (3), Sethu Tom, Nico Scheepers. Conversions: Elgar Watts (2). Penalties: Watts.
GWK Griquas 32 (19) Leopards XV 26 (7)
GWK Griquas – Tries: Marnus Schoeman, Jean Stemmet, Jacques Coetzee, Leon Karemaker. Conversions: Pieter-Steyn de Wet (3). Penalty: De Wet. Drop goal: De Wet.
Leopards XV – Tries: André Pretorius, Hennie Skorbinski, MB Lusaseni, Robert Kruger. Conversions: Pretorius (3).
DHL Western Province 34 (20) SWD Eagles 27 (13)
DHL WP – Tries: Rayn Smid, Sikhumbizo Notshe, Berton Klaasen, Kobus van Wyk. Conversions: Kurt Coleman (4). Penalties: Coleman (2).
SWD Eagles – Tries: Alshaun Bock, Clinton Wagman, Ghafoer Luckman, Christo du Plessis. Conversions: Jeff Taljard (2). Penalty: Taljard.
Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls 0 Vodacom Blue Bulls 110 (47)
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Ruan Snyman (2), Wiaan Liebenberg, Dean Greyling (2), Clayton Blommetjies, Hencus van Wyk, Travis Ismaiel (2), Sampie Mastriet, Cournall Skosan (2), Willie du Plessis (2), Rohan Jansen van Rensburg, Nardus van der Walt. Conversions: Du Plessis (15).
Steval Pumas 14 (0) MTN Golden Lions 23 (10)
Steval Pumas – Tries: Rosco Speckman, Frankie Herne. Conversions: Carl Bezuidenhout, Coenie van Wyk.
MTN Golden Lions – Tries: Derick Minnie, Jaco Kriel. Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (2). Penalties: Boshoff (2). Drop goal: Boshoff.
Down Touch Griffons 17 (7) Valke 6 (6)
Down Touch Griffons – Tries: Oshwill Nortje, Vuyo Mbotho. Conversions: Hansie Graaff (2). Penalty: Graaf.
Valke – Penalties Jaun Kotze (2).
Border Bulldogs 26 (12) Regent Boland Cavaliers 25 (10)
Border Bulldogs – Tries: Joe Seerane, Dean Muir, Kwezi Mkhafu. Conversion: Dale Sabbagh. Penalties: Karlo Aspeling (3)
Regent Boland Cavaliers – Tries: Braam Gerber, Ulrich Pretorius (2). Conversions: Ricardo Croy (2). Penalties: Croy (2)