The Griffons celebrate winning the Currie Cup First Division title on Friday after beating the Leopards in Welkom. Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

WELKOM – The Griffons and their Under-20 team successfully defended their titles in a thrilling day of action on Friday at the HT Pelatona Projects Stadium in Welkom.

The senior team secured a rewarding 60-36 victory against the Leopards in the Currie Cup First Division final, while the juniors defeated the Limpopo Blue Bulls 29-22 in the SA Rugby U20 Championship.

The Griffons were in fine form in the first half of the first division final as they built up an encouraging 25-12 lead and they withstood a solid fightback from the Leopards to cruise to victory and secure their second title in a row.

Flyhalf Juan Kotze opened up the scoring in the fourth minute with a penalty goal, which triggered an impressive attacking spree from the hosts.

Griffons captain and centre Duan Pretorius scored their first of three first-half tries in the 12th minute as he dodged the defence to force his way over the chalk, while Kotze touched down for the second six minutes later after receiving a well-timed offload and holding off a defender to hand the team a 15-0 lead.

Wing Tertius Maarman broke away on the left of the field to score the team’s third try in the 22nd minute, which stretched their score to 22 points.

The Leopards, however, fought back and earned the rewards as wing Jimmy Mpailane found space and stepped on the gas to touch down.

That was followed minutes later with another by flyhalf Gerhard Nortier, who held off two defenders to close the gap to 22-12.

Kotze had the final say in the half as he slotted over a penalty goal on the stroke of halftime to nudge his team 25-12 ahead.

Leopards wing Gene Willemse made a strong statement early in the second half as he received the ball in space to score the team’s third try, which reduced their deficit to eight points.

Hooker Dane van der Westhuyzen and replacement forward Gideon van der Merwe also crossed the tryline for the visiting team as the half progressed thanks to a rolling maul and pick-and-go respectively, which pushed the Leopards into a 31-25 lead.

The Griffons, however, finished the match with a bang as replacement back Shirwin Cupido and lock Neil Claassen scored, which they back up with a double by Vincent Maruping and another by Maarman.

With the Griffons having earned the top spot on the Currie Cup first division log, they will face Griquas in Kimberley on Friday in a promotion-relegation match for a place in the Currie Cup Premier Division next season.

First Division Points-Scorers

Griffons – Tries: Neil Claassen, Jaun Kotze, Tertius Maarman (2), Duan Pretoruis, Vincent Maruping (2), Shirwin Cupido. Conversions: Jaun Kotze (7). Penalty Goals: Jaun Kotze (2).

Leopards – Tries: Dané van der Westhuyzen, Jeandré Rudolph, Gerhard Nortier, Gene Willemse, Jimmy Mpailane, Gideon van der Merwe. Conversions: Gerhard Nortier (3).

SA Rugby