In a brilliant opening day of the Craven Week, there was great rugby on display with "unfortunately" not many surprises. The Western Province and Cheetahs showed that they are a cut above of the "other" teams in this group and should play in the "Semifinals" come Wednesday.
Valke 42-24 Leopards
As expected the Valke started their clash against the Leopards using their bigger forwards to run aggressively and straight at the Leopards defence creating several scoring opportunities which they converted to lead 29-0 at halftime.
The Leopards were allowed back into the game in the second half when the Valke changed their gameplan and tried to spread the ball wide without using their forwards to dominate. This allowed the Leopards to fight back and to close the gap to 29-24.
During the last 15 minutes of the second half, the Valke returned to their successful game plan as used in the first half and scored two unanswered tries with the Valke’s No 8 and Captain, Franco Enslin, wrapping up his hat-trick to nudge the side to a 42-24 victory.
Valke: Tries: du Plessis, Odendaal, Enslin (3), Kotze. Conversions: Potgieter (6).
Leopards: Tries: Nchocho, Meintjies, Oosthuizen (2). Conversions: Meintjies (2).
Pumas 22-43 SWD
The SWD Eagles were made to work hard for their 43-22 victory against the Phakisa Pumas, with a good second-half fightback allowing them to overturn a 15-12 halftime deficit.
The Pumas dominated up front early in the game but as time passed their forwards tired allowing SWD to loosen up the game running the Pumas to pieces.
SWD out-scored their opponents seven tries to three, with fullback Ashchaldo Kiewiet earning two five-pointers, as they showed patience on attack and chipped away at the Phakisa Pumas defence.
SWD Eagles: Tries: Volschenk, Raul, Paulo, vd Linde, Kiewiet (2), Michaels. Conversions: vd Linde, Kiewiet, Victor (2).
Pumas: Tries: Venter, Juries, Visagie. Conversions: Visser (2). Penalty: Visser.
Western Province 50-24 Boland
DHL Western Province gave a strong account of themselves as they powered their way to a 50-24 victory against their Cape neighbours, Boland.
The team’s forwards laid a solid foundation up front, and their backs showed enterprise on the attack, while they did well to round off their point-scoring chances.
Fullback Kade Wolhuter was in fine form, scoring two tries and five penalty goals for his 20 points, while No 8 Gideon Van Wyk also crossed the chalk twice. Such was the high quality of the DHL Western Province display they limited Boland to three points in the first half, but the Winelands’ team fought back strongly with three second-half tries. This, however, not enough to counter their rivals.
Western Province: Tries: de Witt, Rousseau, Bocks, Wolhuter (2), Williams, van Wyk (2). Conversions: Wolhuter (5).
Boland: Tries: Hansen, Mostert, Engelbrecht. Conversions: Hansen, Mostert (2). Penalty: Mostert.
Free State Cheetahs 46-24 KZN
The Bizhub Free State Cheetahs made their presence felt as they produced the goods in a gripping match in which both teams threw the kitchen sink to emerge 46-24 victors.
Somewhat surprising the Cheetahs refused to use their dominance up front and tries to run the Sharks off their feet which obviously lead to some errors on the attack which the Sharks pounded on to make several meters at a time.
The KwaZulu-Natal side struck first but a brace by the home side’s centre, Lesley Botha, saw them score four tries to three by the visitors for a morale-boosting 24-19 halftime lead.
The teams continued to give everything after the break, but the Bizhub Free State Cheetahs did well to capitalise on their try-scoring chances, adding three more tries to their tally, while they limited the opposition to one more try for the victory.
Cheetahs: Tries: Venter, Jonker, Cronje, Lintnaar, Botha (2), Small-Smith. Conversions: du Plessis (4). Penalties: du Plessis.
KwaZulu-Natal: Tries: Hendrikse, Konki, Makhaza, van Huizen. Conversions: Hendrikse (2).