RUSTENBURG – The SuperSport Rugby Challenge Rugby Festival concluded an exciting weekend of rugby action, with one previously undefeated team tasting defeat at Impala Rugby Club in Rustenburg on Sunday.
Griquas were pipped 32-31 by the Free State XV on Sunday, leaving the Bloemfontein side, along with Pumas and Western Province, as the only sides without a loss after four rounds of action.
WP had a bye, while the Nelspruit team travelled to Namibia, where they kept their winning run intact.
The Free State side almost let their strong first-half effort slip away from them. They raced into a 24-0 lead at the break, but a determined fightback by Griquas almost snatched the win away from their neighbours.
The men from Kimberley scored 31 points in the second half as their attack finally found some rhythm.
They outscored the Free State side with five tries to four, but with their last try unconverted, fell just a point short to pull off a memorable win.
In the second match of the day, also in the central section, the Leopards and Sharks XV entertained the good crowd with some great running rugby, resulting in 13 tries.
The visitors scored three quick tries in succession to race into a 17-0 before they match evened out in the remainder of the half.
The Sharks XV scored two more tries before the break, as did the Leopards, who trailed 14-29 after the first half.
The second half had the crowd on the edge of their seats, but the Sharks XV used their opportunities better and pulled away from a gutsy Leopards team.
Action started on Friday in the South Section, where the Border Bulldogs pulled off a 22-17 win over the EP Elephants.
This means that only the Port Elizabeth side in that section has not scored a win.
The Boland Cavaliers handed SWD Eagles their first defeat in Wellington on Saturday.
The Cavaliers won 37-12 at the Boland Stadium and scored no fewer than six tries on their way to a solid win.
The Eagles tasted defeat for the first time, and will have to find a way to up their defensive effort if they want to get back on the winning trail again.
Some action in Rustenburg, where the Toyota Free State XV scored a nail-biting 32-31 win over Tafel Lager Griquas in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge #BorntoRugby @rugbychallenge @CheetahsRugby @GriquasRugby pic.twitter.com/QhomofQQnc
For Boland, who took Western Province to the brink of defeat last week, the continued improvement will please players and coaches alike.
The North Section saw another win for the Pumas, this time beating the Welwitschias in Windhoek.
They scored seven tries (and a penalty try) to ease into a 54-12 win in the Hage Geingob Stadium. Both debutants, Heino Marais and Jeandré Rudolph, dotted down for the Nelspruit team.
In the other match in the North Section, the Golden Lions had too much pace and class for the Valke.
They ran in 10 tries to outplay the Valke 68-12 at the Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park on Saturday.
Golden Lions XV fylhalf Shaun Reynolds helped himself to 27 points, and scored a hat trick and six conversions.
Border Bulldogs 22 – Tries: Siphosenkosi Nofemele (2), Lelethu Gcilitshane. Conversions: Bangihlombe Kobese (2). Penalty: Kobese (1). EP Elephants 17 – Tries: Siya Grey, JP Smith. Conversions: Ruben de Vos (2). Drop goal: De Vos (1).
Boland Cavaliers 37 – Tries: Jovelian de Koker, Edwin Sass (2), Zandré Jordaan, Valentino Wellman, Sergio Torrens. Conversions: Elgar Watts (2). Penalty: Jacquin Jansen (1). SWD Eagles 12 – Tries: Leighton Eksteen, Marlo van Niekerk. Conversion: Eksteen (1).
Welwitschias 12 – Tries: Pieter Steenkamp (2). Conversion: Pieter Steenkamp (1). Pumas 54 – Tries: Jeandré Rudolph, Ruwellyn Isbell, Cameron Lindsay, Henko Marais, JP Lewis, Abrie Griesel, Hugo Kloppers, Penalty Try. Conversions: Justin van Staden (6).
Valke 12 – Tries: N/A. Conversion: N/A. Golden Lions XV 68 – Tries: Shaun Reynolds (3), Jan-Louis la Grange (2), James Venter (2), Jeanluc Cilliers, Corné Fourie, Vincent Tshituka. Conversions: Reynolds (6), Siya Masuku (3).
Griquas 31 – Tries: Conway Pretorius, Enver Brandt, Pieter Jansen van Vuuren, Kyle Steyn (2). Conversions: Pieter-Steyn de Wet (3). Free State XV 32 – Tries: Tertius Kruger, Gerhard Oliver, Ernst Stapelberg, Alrich Coetzee. Conversions: Stapelberg (3). Penalties: Stapelberg (2).
Leopards 28 – Tries: Gideon van der Merwe, Gene Willemse, Bradley Moolman, Justin Newman. Conversions: Schalk Hugo (3), DP de Lange (1). Sharks XV 57 – Tries: Grant Williams, Aphelele Fassi (2), Leolin Zas, Hyron Andrews, Courtney Winnaar, Johan Deysel, Tristan Blewett, Tera Mtembu. Conversions: Garth April (5), Danrich Visagie (1).
Byes: Blue Bulls, Western Province, Griffons.
African News Agency (ANA)