Vodacom Cup wrap
The Pumas, Griquas, Golden Lions, Free State XV and Sharks XV continued to flex their muscles in round two of the Vodacom Cup competition.
The quintet all stood out over the weekend as they registered further victories to remain the only unbeaten teams.
But while they will be pleased with their efforts, the Leopards XV, EP Kings and the SWD Eagles also had something celebrate as they recorded the biggest victories of the weekend after suffering defeats last week.
The Leopards XV were in fine form against the Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls at the New Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane as they ran riot on attack to secure 11 tries to only one by the hosts for their 71-10 win. Five of their tries were scored in the first half and six in the second, while the home team managed only a converted try and penalty in the first-half and failed to build on that after the break.
The EP Kings were equally rampant against the Border Bulldogs at Rhodes University's Great Field in Grahamstown as they secured a morale-boosting 60-6 victory. Such was the high quality of their attack they scored nine tries, with Brian Skosana and Masixole Banda scoring two each. They supported this with a solid defence effort, forcing the Bulldogs to settle for only two penalties in the 80 minutes.
The SWD Eagles also touched down nine times in their clash against the Tusker Simba XV at the City Park Stadium in Cape Town in a strong showing after their five-point defeat against the Toyota Free State XV last week. The SWD Eagles were clinical in their attack and built up an encouraging 25-0 lead at the break, which they managed to build on in the second half. In the end they proved too strong for the Kenyan side.
The Sharks XV registered a 25-7 victory against Western Province at Kings Park thanks to a second-half surge following a closely-matched first half. Both teams scored a converted try in the first half and entered the break at 7-7. But the hosts found their rhythm in the second half and used their point-scoring chances well, which resulted in two tries in two minutes for Keegan Daniel and Jacques Botes respectively. With their defence holding well, they denied the visitors further opportunities to add to their score.
The Pumas, meanwhile, survived a strong second-half fightback by the Blue Bulls at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit to hold on for their narrow 22-20 victory. The home team started the clash strongly with three penalties by JC Roos and a try by Renaldo Bothma, which accounted for all 16 of their first-half points. But two converted tries by the Blue Bulls and two penalties by fly-half Louis Fouche forced the visitors into the lead with a minute remaining. Justin van Staden, however, saved the day for the Steval Pumas with his second penalty of the half in the dying seconds for the two-point victory.
In Kimberley the Griquas managed only a slender 6-3 lead against the Griffons in the first half, but they bounced back with intent to secure a 20-12 victory. Rocco Jansen crossed the tryline four minutes after the break and Marnus Schoeman followed late in the third quarter, which Jacquin Jansen converted to add to his two first-half penalties, while the Griffons only points of the match were four penalties by fly-half Louis Strydom.
The Free State XV, meanwhile, made their presence felt from the outset against the Boland Cavaliers at the Wesbank Stadium in Malmesbury and powered their way to a 20-0 lead. The Cavaliers, however, hit back after the break with two converted tries and two penalties. But it was the Free State XV's bonus point try by Zingisa April with seven minutes to go that pushed the match out of reach for the hosts and ensured their 28-20 victory.
In stark contrast the Golden Lions staged a dramatic comeback from 10-5 down against the Valke at Ellis Park for their nail-biting 23-22 victory. Tries by Ruaan Lerm and Anthony Volmink to add to one by Willie du Plessis in the first half forced them into the lead, while Valke had to rely solely on penalties in the second half to keep the scoreboard ticking.