Vodacom Cup wrap
GWK Griquas scored the biggest playoff victory in the history of the Vodacom Cup as all four teams from the North Section proved too strong for their counterparts from the South and progressed to the semi-finals.
With three of the winning margins over the weekend between one and seven points, GWK Griquas’ 84-15 victory over the SWD Eagles perhaps best illustrated the dominance the North had over the South.
The previous biggest victory in a playoff match also involved the team from the Northern Cape, when they lost 73-7 to the Golden Lions in the 1999 Final.
The Golden Lions and Vodacom Blue Bulls, with eight Vodacom Cup titles between them, had to travel for their quarter-finals, while the Steval Pumas and GWK Griquas won their playoffs at home.
This means that for a second successive year the winner of the Vodacom Cup will come from the North Section - last year the Golden Lions proved too strong for the Steval Pumas in the Final in Nelspruit.
On Friday afternoon in Durban, the Golden Lions repeated their feat from 2013 when they beat the Cell C Sharks XV, then also the top team in the South Section, on KP2 at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban in the first quarter-final.
The home team had the better start. After 20 minutes they were in front by 13-3, but the visitors clawed their way back to cut the Cell C Sharks XV's half-time lead to 13-10. Johan Meyer, for the KwaZulu-Natalians, and the Golden Lions’ Stokkies Hanekom were the try scorers in the first half.
The bulk of the second half belonged to the Golden Lions, who added two more tries in the second quarter - by Wynand Willis and Stephan de Wit - to basically ensure they progress to the semi-finals.
A try at the death by former Springbok flyer Jongi Nokwe gave the Cell C Sharks XV a late boost, but it wasn’t enough as they crashed out in similar fashion to 2013.
Wet conditions in Nelspruit made handling difficult as the Steval Pumas, runners up in 2013, did enough to knock 2012 champions, DHL Western Province, out of the Vodacom Cup. The final score was 13-8 after a scrappy match where both sides managed to score only one try each - JW Bell for the home team and Rohan Kitshoff for the visitors.
Had Steval Pumas flyhalf JC Roos worn his kicking boots, the team from Mpumalanga could’ve sealed the victory earlier, but he didn’t and the Capetonians almost snuck through after lifting their game towards the end of the match.
On Saturday, four-time Vodacom Cup champions GWK Griquas proved far too strong for the SWD Eagles when they won this one-sided quarter-final by 84-15 at GWK Park in Kimberley.
The home team were in control in the first half and led by 30-15 at the break, but they really pulled away in the second half, which they won by 54-0 for their biggest victory of the season. GWK Griquas fullback Gouws Prinsloo converted 10 of their 11 tries and added three penalty goals for a personal haul of 29 points.
At the same time, 160km to the south east, the Vodacom Blue Bulls qualified for their 12th Vodacom Cup semi-final when they edged out the Toyota Free State XV at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein.
The visitors from Pretoria needed a penalty goal by Tony Jantjies three minutes from time to ensure they emerge victorious in this tight and very even contest. The home team scored two tries, by Maputha Dolo and Zingisa April, to Lohan Jacobs’ one try for the visitors, but in the end the Toyota Free State XV just didn’t have enough in the tank to ensure they stay in the competition.
Vodacom Cup semi-finals
Steval Pumas v GWK Griquas - Nelspruit
Golden Lions v Vodacom Blue Bulls - Johannesburg