GWK Griquas won an 83-point thriller to down the Vodacom Blue Bulls 49-34 at GWK Park in Kimberley on Saturday and reignite their hopes of an Absa Currie Cup semifinal spot this season.
With the victory, they moved further ahead of the Bulls, who now are in dire straits and could well end up having to play a promotion-relegation match to stay in the Currie Cup A-section this season.
While the Bulls arrived full of confidence, a wave of emotion settled on the stadium as the team bonded together for a moment of silence for teammate Jannie Boshoff, who withdrew from the side as his father had died in a plane crash earlier in the week.
The emotion of the occasion was clear and the home side were more than up for the match, taking just 40 seconds to score their first try and running out to a 25-0 lead in as many minutes before the Bulls had time to blink.
On a weekend where the Bulls made it clear they simply had to win, the loss will hit the Bulls hard and will place even more pressure on their coach Pine Pienaar with just four games left -- against the Cheetahs, WP, Sharks and the Lions -- before the season ends.
While the Bulls fought back to come within a whisker of the lead, their defence once again let them down on so many occasions that they were never going to win the game.
On the other hand, credit must go to Griquas coach Pote Human who has now recorded wins over the Lions, Sharks and Bulls in consecutive weeks, and certainly has shown the team can play with the best. The turnaround is equally remarkable if you think Griquas lost their opening three games and were in danger of being left behind while the Bulls won their opening two games.
For the visitors there will need to be a whole lot of soul searching ahead, but they can’t hide from the stark reality that they were simply not good enough, and now their future may not be in their own hands going forward in this year’s competition.
Ironically many of Griquas’ stars were former Bulls players such as Marnus Schoeman, Rocco Jansen and Francois Brummer, who were exceptional for the home team.
From the outset the Bulls had their backs against the wall, and when Jansen found himself in space after just 30 seconds, it didn’t take much longer for him to chip and collect to open the scoring. Two penalties from Brummer made the Bulls sweat even more and the writing was on the wall after a quarter hour when Walter Venter went over, thanks to another Jansen run up the middle.
Some poor defending again by the Bulls allowed Brummer to run 50 metres to score on a counter attack, and before the team had blinked they found themselves 25-0 down with the match only a quarter of the way gone.
They did come back into the match in the first half though to give themselves some hope, as first Rudy Paige went over after a Francois Venter break and then Willie Wepener crashed over from close range.
But Brummer’s boot put the home side 29-14 up at the break, and made the Bulls' task even harder.
The visitors did start the second half well, with a Louis Fouche penalty and then Akona Ndungane snatching a high ball out of Willie le Roux’s hands and charging onwards for a try to bring them within five points.
It seemed as if they could come back at this point, but then more poor defence allowed Griquas to take the game away from them with Jean Stemmet and Schoeman both dotting down from blistering counter attacks.
A late try by Werner Kruger gave them some more hope, but when Richard Lawson beat a stretched defence, the game was over.
CJ Stander’s try at the death only gave the scoreline a bit more respectability, but couldn’t take away from the problems the Bulls are currently going through in the competition.
GWK GRIQUAS – tries: Rocco Jansen, Walter Venter, Francois Brummer, Jean Stemmet, Marnus Schoeman, Richard Lawson. Conversions: Brummer (2). Penalties: Brummer (4). Drop goal: Brummer.
VODACOM BLUE BULLS – tries: Rudy Paige, Willie Wepener, Akona Ndungane, Werner Kruger, CJ Stander. Conversions: Louis Fouche (3). Penalties: Fouche (1).