KIMBERLEY – The never-say-die Griquas showed deep character to thrash their neighbours from Bloemfontein 59-24 in Kimberley on Saturday, a win that opens up the race for second place on the final Currie Cup log.
The Cheetahs’ failure to gain a log point means they can be caught by Western Province and possibly the Lions for second place on the log, with two rounds remaining in the competition. The Sharks have already secured one of the home semi-final spots and the second home semi is now up for grabs.
The teams were evenly matched in the first half but Griquas turned on the gas in the second half to eventually run in eight tries to three.
Griquas had nothing to lose and from the first whistle showed their attacking intent. They had a number of tap-and-go penalties in the opening minutes, which led to flank Sias Koen forcing himself over on five minutes.
Cheetahs hooker Joseph Dweba showed great pace when he exploded free from a ruck to score at the posts and Robbie Petzer’s conversion levelled the score.
The visitors quickly followed this up with another try, this time to Chris Dry who benefitted from a blindside break by Petzer, who drew the fullback and put his flank away.
Griquas equalised against the run of play when flyhalf George Whitehead intercepted near the halfway line and while he was brought down short, scrumhalf Christian Meyer went over, and Whitehead’s conversion made it 14-14.
The home side had the wind in their sails, and soon after scored their third try, again from a breakaway near the halfway line, and once more featuring Meyer who just short of the line popped up the ball in the tackle for flank Wendal Wehr to catch and fall over the line.
The momentum shift was accentuated by the almost immediate yellow carding of Cheetahs’ lock Dennis Visser.
The visitors levelled the scores in splendid fashion early in the half. Flyhalf Petzer threw a dummy on the halfway line and ran 40m before passing to scrumhalf Zee Mkhabela, who was tackled just short of the line but got a try-scoring pass away to Cecil Afrika.
The conversion evened up the score at 24-24.
Griquas wing Tertius Kruger had a try disallowed because of a forward pass in the build up, but then scored a legitimate try five minutes later, and when home hooker AJ le Roux scored off the back of a driven lineout, the Cheetahs were chasing the game at 38-24 with a quarter of the game remaining.
Instead of a Cheetahs comeback, the fired-up Griquas upped their intensity and effectively shut the Cheetahs out when a fine build up of phases put left wing Enver Brandt in space for a sprint to the corner flag for his team’s sixth try.
Griquas No 8 Conway Pretorius seemed to have the final say with a storming run to the posts to bring up the 50, but after the hooter fullback Aj Coertzen added the eighth try.
Griquas 59 (24) – Tries: Sias Koen, Christiaan Meyer, Wendal Wehr, Tertius Kruger, AJ Le Roux, Enver Brandt, Conway Pretorius, AJ Coertzen. Conversions: George Whitehead (5), Andre Swarts (3). Penalty: George Whitehead.
Cheetahs 24 (17) – Tries: Joseph Dweba, Chris Dry, Cecil Afrika. Conversions: Robbie Petzer (3). Penalties: Robbie Petzer.
African News Agency