Currie Cup - Round One Review
Jack powers Province past Sharks
July 10, 2009
Sireli Naqelevuki scored an excellent try for Western Province © Getty Images
Western Province 29 - 15 Natal Sharks Blue Bulls 19 - 13 Golden Lions Free State 16 - 28 Griquas Boland Cavaliers 26 - 18 Leopards
Chris Jack wasted no time in making an impact in South African rugby, the All Black lock scoring a try after only 20 seconds of his Currie Cup debut. Jack profited from his own charge-down to help Western Province to a 29-15 win over last season's champions Natal Sharks.
At a wet and windy Newlands scoring chances were always going to be at a premium, Jack handing his side the perfect start. Fly-half Willem de Waal converted and added a penalty, with Sharks scrum-half Rory Kockott replying early on with two of his own, the second after tempers boiled over following an angry altercation between Province skipper Luke Watson and Sharks hooker Craig Burden.
Kockott seemed to have no problem with the conditions or the whistles from the home crowd, scoring his next two penalties to draw his side clear for the first time. De Waal was on hand to restore the Province lead as the clock ticked towards half-time, his forwards scrapping well against a more experienced Sharks eight.
The Sharks lost No.8 Keegan Daniel to the sin-bin at the start of the second-half, and were undone by some quick turnover ball soon after. Jean Deysel lost the ball to Watson on the floor, with excellent lock Anton van Zyl breaking away before finding a perfect offload to Morgan Newman. The centre raced clear before feeding Sireli Naqelevuki to score in the corner.
De Waal landed the touchline conversion, and added another penalty after a searing break from fullback Joe Pietersen. Kockott reduced the arrears with another penalty before the Sharks lost their skipper Johann Muller to injury, the lock coming out of a tackle with what looked like a serious arm injury. De Waal completed the scoring with a long-range penalty, rounding off an excellent performance from his side.
Earlier, the Blue Bulls produced a rousing second-half fightback to defeat a dogged Golden Lions side 19-13 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. The Bulls trailed 13-0 at half-time after a lacklustre opening, and toiled in attack against a committed but limited Lions side.
The Lions, still smarting at their humbling 74-10 loss to the touring British & Irish Lions, made a flying start thanks to a penalty from newly-acquired fly-half Herkie Kruger and a well-worked try from No.8 Willem Alberts. Alberts burrowed over from close range after the Lions' forwards had pummelled their way through several phases on the Bulls' line, fullback Earl Rose doing an excellent job linking play as an emergency scrum-half.
Bulls replacement Tiger Mangweni scored a vital try in Pretoria © Getty Images
Kruger extended the visitors' lead with a second simple penalty, while Bulls' pivot Burton Francis struggled to assert himself in open play and was also guilty of spurning two regulation penalties before being withdrawn before the half-hour. The Lions carried their 13-0 lead in to the break but were unable to fight off waves of Bulls attacks after the restart.
Newly-capped Springbok fullback Zane Kirchner was guilty of butchering a simple try-scoring chance when he was turned over in goal before Jaco Pretorius looked to have killed their chances of another try when he ignored an overlap. The centre was rescued by an excellent pickup from Tiger Mangweni, who seized a loose pass and dived over. Francis' replacement, Francois Brummer, missed the conversion after earlier horribly misjudging a penalty and the Bulls' profligacy caught on with Kruger missing his first effort of the afternoon shortly after.
The Bulls' pressure continued as the half went on, with winger Gerhard van der Heever crashing over in the corner after his skipper, Derick Kuun, had turned down several kicks at goal in favour of a quick tap. Brummer then finally landed a kick with the Bulls' first penalty of the game, and Kruger missed his second kick in short succession to leave the game in the balance heading in to the final ten minutes.
The visitors lost replacement Rob Kruger to the sin-bin, allowing Brummer to steal the lead with his second successful kick. Kruger missed another kickable penalty and as the hooter sounded Brummer stroked his third penalty from long-range to secure the points for last season's runners-up.
The Griquas produced the first shock in this year's competition with a 28-18 victory over the Cheetahs in a thrilling clash at Vodacom Park on Friday, their bonus point sending them top after round one.
The Griquas stunned the hosts to take an early lead with a clever try from Heinrich Stride that saw the No.8 take a quick free kick before dummying the Cheetahs' defence and surging over the line. Fly-half Naas Olivier converted the score to cement the visitors' lead. Free State raised their game before the break but their only reward was two penalties from No.10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter that closed the gap to a point.
However, the Cheetahs' fly-half was off-target with two more efforts early in the second half that led to the introduction of Louis Strydom. The home side's hopes then took a further blow with a yellow card for scrum-half Sarel Pretorius who was penalised for a challenge off the ball.
But they rallied with a try from debutant Lionel Mapoe with the winger benefitting from some good work by centre Meyer Bosman before handing off the Griquas Egon Seconds. The Cheetahs continued to press and were rewarded with a second try from prop WP Nel who burrowed over at the side of a ruck. The conversion from Strydom took the Cheetahs to a 18-7 lead as the game entered the final quarter.
The Griquas refused to roll over and Pretorius danced his way over for a try before centre Barry Geel also crossed. Olivier kicked both conversions to give the visitors a narrow three-point lead but they were not finished there. Another great break from Pretorius, supported by fullback Riaan Viljoen, created the opening for Bjorn Basson to seal the win and the bonus point.
Oivier nailed the difficult conversion while Strydom missed two late penalties that would have secured a bonus point for the Cheetahs.
Elsewhere, Boland scored a 26-18 victory over the Leopards at Boland Stadium.
The hosts suffered an early blow with a yellow card for winger Deon Scholtz in the opening minute and the Leopards soon capitalised with a try for scrum-half Michael Bondesio. Leopards' fly-half Clayton Duraand was unable to add the extras but he did slot a penalty soon after to cement the visitors' lead.
It was soon the Leopards' turn to be a man down when prop Os van der Walt was given his marching orders - again for a high tackle. Boland subsequently struck back with a try from Scholtz and they had the lead when scrum-half Marnus Hugo crossed just past the half hour mark. Both tries were converted by fullback Justin Peach who also added three penalties before the break to give his side a 23-8 lead.
Peach extended his side's advantage after the re-start but it would be the last points his side would score. Boland flanker Wendal Wehr was sin-binned for infringing at the breakdown with half and hour of the match remaining and the Leopards conjured a late comeback.
Two unconverted tries from winger Bom Samaai brought them within range but in the end they were frustrated by a determined Boland defence.