Race to play-offs intensifies – SuperSport Rugby Challenge Round 7 Review
The undefeated and defending SuperSport Rugby Challenge champions, DHL Western Province, continued on their merry way with yet another victory in Round 7, while the iCOLLEGE Pumas and Toyota Free State XV – the other teams yet to lose this year – also secured wins, but amongst the rest of the pack a massive scramble for the remaining five play-off spots are emerging.
The top three in the South, Central and North sections are set for quarter-final spots in the tournament, and a number of teams are zooming in on the remaining play-off positions.
In the South Section, a good 47-28 win by SWD Eagles over the EP Elephants in George pushed them within a log point of second placed Boland Cavaliers. The home side raced away to a 28-0 lead at the break, before the Elephants came storming back, but the Eagles also kept the scoreboard ticking in defending their lead.
DHL WP battled with Border Bulldogs in their first half at False Bay Rugby Club, but pulled away in the second half. Winger Duncan Saal scored another brace in the win.
The North Section saw a crucial 43-35 win for the iCOLLEGE Pumas, this time over the dangerous Xerox Golden Lions XV in Nelspruit. The home side held the lead at the break and despite a good comeback effort by the Young Lions, the men from Mpumalanga held out.
The second play-off spot in this section is becoming a race between the Xerox Golden Lions XV and Vodacom Blue Bulls, who travelled to Windhoek, where they scored a 47-31 win over the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias. The visitors were always in control in the Hage Geingob Stadium, but no trip to our neighbours is easy, such is the progress of the Namibian side.
The Central Section is highly competitive. The Toyota Free State XV stayed undefeated with a solid 38-20 win over the Leopards in Potchefstroom on Friday, while the Cell C Sharks XV scored a vital 45-43 in over the Down Touch Griffons in Welkom.
In both matches, the home sides came out fighting, but where the Leopards were strongest in the first half (leading 20-19), the Northern Free Staters came back from 28-14 down to almost snatch the win.
Round 7 Results and scorers:
DHL Western Province 53 (17), Border Bulldogs 25 (12)
DHL Western Province – Tries: Duncan Saal (2), Jaco Coetzee (2), Daniel du Plessis, Justin Phillips, Cornel Smit, Herschel Jantjies. Conversions: Tristan Leyds (5), Tiaan Swanepoel.
Border Bulldogs – Tries: Lonwabo Nteki (2), Mihlali Mpafi, Base Dubase. Conversions: Athenkosi Manentsa.
SWD Eagles 47 (28), EP Elephants 28 (0)
SWD Eagles – Tries: Marlou van Niekerk, Johannes Steyn, Ruben Schoeman, Alshaun Bock, Tyler Fisher, Johannes Stander, Leighton Eksteen. Conversions: Leighton Ektseen (6).
EP Elephants – Tries: Riaan Arends, Nkululeko Marwana, Mbeko Kota, Quinton Haasbroek. Conversions: Ruben de Vos, Simon Bolze (3).
Leopards 26 (20), Toyota Free State XV 38 (19)
Leopards – Tries: Sthembiso Mhlongo, Gene Willemse. Conversions: Schalk Hugo (2). Penalties: Hugo (4).
Toyota Free State XV – Tries: Joseph Dweba, Gunther Janse van Rensburg, Niell Jordaan, Ernst Stapelberg, Daniel Maartens, Zee Mkhabela. Conversions: Benhard Janse van Rensburg (3), Stapelberg.
Down Touch Griffons 43 (14), Cell C Sharks XV 45 (28)
Down Touch Griffons – Tries: JP Mans, Cody-Anthony Basson, Rodney Damons, Duan Pretorius, Ezrick Alexander, JJ Pretorius. Conversions: Jaun Kotze (5). Penalty: Jaun Kotze.
Cell C Sharks XV – Tries: Tera Mtembu, Aphelele Fassi, Jeremy Ward, Tristan Blewett (2), Grant Williams. Conversions: Danrich Visagie (6). Penalty: Danrich Visagie.
Windhoek Draught Welwitschias 31 (7), Vodacom Blue Bulls 47 (28)
Windhoek Draught Welwitschias – Tries: Johan Tromp, Johan Greyling, Daniel van Vuuren, Darryl de la Harpe, Rohan Kitshoff. Conversions: Pieter Steenkamp (3).
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Franco Naude, Xolisa Guma (2), Nqobisizwe Mxoli, Matthys Basson, Jamba Ulengo, Johan Grobbelaar. Conversions: Andell Loubser (6).
iCOLLEGE Pumas 43 (21), Xerox Golden Lions XV 35 (14)
iCOLLEGE Pumas – Tries: Stefan Ungerer, Stefan Willemse, Gerrit Smith, Frank Herne, Willie Engelbrecht, Alwayno Visagie. Conversions: Justin van Staden (4), Barend Smit. Penalty: Van Staden.
Xerox Golden Lions XV – Tries: Sithembiso Sithole, Jan-Louis La Grange, Wayne van der Bank, Xolane Mnisi, Marco Janse van Rensburg. Conversions: Shaun Reynolds (5).
Leading points’ scorers:
1. Chris Smith (iCOLLEGE Pumas) 60
2. Pieter Steenkamp (Windhoek Draught Welwitschias) 58
3. Ernst Stapelberg (Toyota Free State XV) 57
1. Enver Brandt (Tafel Lager Griquas) 11
2. Duncan Saal (DHL Western Province) 9
3. Ruwellyn Isbell (iCOLLEGE Pumas) 8
Standings after Round 7:
1. iCOLLEGE Pumas 29
2. Vodacom Blue Bulls 21
3. Xerox Golden Lions XV 13
4. Hino Valke 7
5. Windhoek Draught Welwitschias 7
1. Toyota Free State XV 29
2. Tafel Lager Griquas 22
3. Cell C Sharks XV 17
4. Down Touch Griffons 11
5. Leopards 2
1. DHL Western Province 29
2. Boland Cavaliers 16
3. SWD Eagles 15
4. Border Bulldogs 10
5. Eastern Province Elephants 5