Vodacom Cup wrap
The Down Touch Griffons and Cell C Sharks XV were the big winners in the first round of the 2014 Vodacom Cup, which kicked off this weekend.
These two teams top the North and South Section logs after round one when they managed to bag a full-house of five log points in their opening victories over the Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls and Border Bulldogs respectively.
After a slowish start, the Down Touch Griffons really stepped on the gas in the second half of their match against the side from Limpopo, scoring 43 unanswered points in the second half as they romped to a 62-10 victory at Bultfontein High School on Saturday.
On Friday evening in East London, the Cell C Sharks XV was forced to fight back hard in the final 30 minutes against a spirited Border Bulldogs side, who lead by 24-10 early in the second half at the Buffalo City Municipality Stadium. In the end however, the KwaZulu-Natalians simply had too much left in the tank as they scored a comfortable win by 46-24.
Also on Friday, at the Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park, last year’s runners-up, the Steval Pumas, won their opening game of the season by 26-6 against the Valke, with wing Jerome Pretorius scoring both his side’s tries while flyhalf JC Roos added 16 points with the boot.
The third match on Friday was in Potchefstroom, where the defending champions, the Golden Lions, beat the Leopards XV by 18-16 thanks to late penalty goal by Guy Cronje at Profert Olën Park. However, the home team twice had opportunities to snatch victory in the dying moments, but fluffed a penalty and drop goal.
The only other team to win and bag a try-scoring bonus point was the Toyota Free State XV, who beat the SWD Eagles in a high-scoring match by 52-47 at the Clive Solomon Stadium in Heidedal on Saturday afternoon. Both sides scored six tries as the visitors bagged two bonus points in Bloemfontein.
Four-time champions GWK Griquas caused a minor upset at Loftus B in Pretoria on Saturday afternoon when Joe Jansen kicked a last-minute penalty goal to help the team from the Northern Cape to a narrow 26-24 victory over the Vodacom Blue Bulls.
The final two matches of the weekend took place at a windy City Park in Cape Town, where Kenyan newcomers Tusker Simba XV got their first taste of Vodacom Cup rugby - and it was pretty sweet. The Kenyans, under the coaching of Jerome Paarwater, beat the EP Kings by 17-10, outscoring the visitors from Port Elizabeth by three tries to two.
The final match of the weekend was a tight affair, but 2012 champions, DHL Western Province, did enough to beat their neighbours, the Regent Boland Cavaliers, by 16-8, also at City Park.
Put your money where your mouth is