All Stars and Samurai set pace
The All Stars and Samurai were the only teams to finish unbeaten on the opening day of the Sevens Premier League in George.
The All Stars and Samurai were the only team to finish unbeaten on the opening day of the Sevens Premier League in George.
While the retired internationals like Stefan Basson, Ben Gollings, Zar Lawrence and MJ Mentz may no longer have the pace that made them superstars on the IRB World Sevens circuit, they still have the class - which was the difference against all their opponents on an encouraging opening day.
With the top two teams from each pool going through to the Cup quarterfinals there will be all to play for on Saturday with R1 million on the line.
The Blue Bulls, Boland, Cheetahs, Sharks and Lions are all still in the hunt, although Western Province's heavy defeat in the last game of the day consigned them to the Bowl competition.
Kaizer Chiefs showed some encouraging form, winning two of their three games and they will also be in the mix in the Cup quarterfinals on Saturday.
In the second round of fixtures on Friday Samurai upstaged another of the pre-tournament favourites, the Sharks, 19-12. The Samurai - effectively South Africa's back-up squad to the BlitzBokke - produced a much improved performance from their opening win over the Living Ball to virtually shut the Sharks out - a late consolation score giving the Sharks' scoreline some respectability.
The Kaizer Chiefs easily disposed of a very lacklustre Living Ball selection - which at times seemed to be feeling the after-effects of the pre-tournament festivities - the final score 33-19 in favour of the Chiefs.
The Lions put their campaign back on track with a comprehensive 40-5 drubbing of Western Province, after both teams had lost their opening matches.
In another one-sided contest the Boland Cavaliers beat the Vikings 35-14, while the Blue Bulls bounced back from an opening loss to dismantle the Mighty Mohicans and win 35-12 to keep their chances alive of staying in the Cup competition.
Earlier, In a ding-dong battle with the Bulls, the lead changed hands several times, before a late winner by retired BlitzBok Philip Burger gave the Cheetahs the win over their rivals from Pretoria.
However, the star of that match was new Springbok Raymond Rhule, who scored two tries and created the winner for the Cheetahs.
The other game that had the crowd on their collective feet saw the Sharks edge Western Province 24-22 with a late winner - a suggestion that the Sharks, the domestic inter-provincial champions, could challenge for top honours. However, their lacklustre display in the second fixture raised a question mark over that claim.
Kaizer Chiefs opened their Sevens debut with a 22-14 win over the Lions, who later bounced back in emphatic fashion.
In other early matches the All Stars beat the Boland Cavaliers 26-12, the Mighty Mohicans fought back from a 0-17 at half-time to beat the Vikings 26-24 and the Samurai edged the Living Ball 19-12.
In their second match of the day, against the All Stars, the Cheetahs again got off to a flyer. However, a yellow card to Rayno Benjamin opened the door for the Stars against the six-man Cheetahs outfit. And veteran Ben Gollings made them pay for their lack of discipline - giving them a 7-5 lead over the Cheetahs at the break. After the break MJ Metz stretched the lead with a second try for the Stars, but Sarel Pretorius pulled a try back for the Cheetahs from the restart to level it at 12-all. With just over a minute left on the clock Danwel Demas used his blistering pace to put the Stars back in the lead with a weaving run. The Cheetahs came close to a late try, but the in-goal assistant referee ruled that Philip Burger was tackled into touch and the All Stars won 19-12, preserving their unbeaten run at the tournament
Tythan Adams opened the scoring for Boland in their encounter with the Vikings, with Jacques Erasmus scoring for the Vikings (7-all) midway through the first half. Adi Jacobs put the Cavaliers back in the lead, before Deston Wellman stretched the lead to make it 21-7 to the Cavaliers at the break. Philip van Zyl got the fourth try for Boland from the restart, before they sealed the deal with a runaway score. A late try by the Vikings made the final score 35-14.
In their second match the Bulls got off to a flyer against the Mighty Mohicans - when Clayton Blommetjies put Andre Warner over for the first try of the game and then Jason Kriel used his pace to go over for the second from the restart. The Mohicans got on the board through Izak Saaiman to make it 14-5 at the break to the Bulls. Warner got a second, two minutes into the second half, as the Bulls stretched their lead. Jason Kriel scored the Bulls' fourth, to give them a 28-5 lead with four minutes left on the clock, which became 35-5 with Kriel's hat-trick try. NW Smit pulled one back for the Mohicans, but it was much too little and much to late - the final score being 35-12.
In their second match the Sharks opened the scoring against the Samurai, with Peet Coetzee getting the first five-pointer after the Samurai were reduced to just six men. Justin Geduld got the Samurai back on the board, going over under the uprights - the easy conversion giving the Samurai a 7-5 lead at the break. Seabelo Senatla then stretched the lead to 14-5 when he used his blistering pace to round the cover defence and Jack Wilson scored the Samurai's third when the Sharks' defence disintegrated. The Sharks had their chances, but their execution was well below the expected standards. Sean Robinson scored a late consolation try for the Sharks, but the Samurai won 19-12.
The Kaizer Chiefs team got their second match off to a great start - two tries in as many minutes giving them a 12-0 lead. Retired Springbok Breyton Paulse joined in the try-scoring feast, as the Chiefs took a 19-0 lead into the break. Jongi Nokwe got the fourth try for the Chiefs, before Alshaun Bock eventually got the Living Ball team on the board with two tries in quick succession as the Chiefs took their proverbial foot off the gas. The Chiefs got the wake-up call and Shuaib Samaai restored normal order with the a fifth try. Shaun Davids had the final say, a Living Ball try that left the final score at 33-19.
Ross Cronje got the Lions off to the perfect start against Western Province, who handed the ball to the Lions with a basic error at the kick-off. And another error, a forward pass, handed possession to the Lions for Cronje and his team's second try - giving the men from Johannesburg a 14-0 lead at the break. Ruan Combrinck stretched that lead after yet another WP error inside the Lions 22, before Tim Swiel eventually got Province on the board. However, tries by Claude Tshibidi, Senzo Shabalala and Arno van Rooyen saw the Lions race away with the game - producing the biggest winning margin of the first two rounds - 40-5.
Earlier the All Stars got the action underway with the opening try, scored by Juan Swanepoel, after good work from the likes of Ben Gollings, Stefan Basson and Zar Lawrence. Philip van Zyl pulled one back for Boland, but JW Jonker hit back immediately with a score after a chip-'n-chase to make it 12-5 at the half-time break. Dewald Pretorius scored first after the break, as the All Stars raced clear. Danwell Demas wrapped it up with the Stars' fourth try. Boland managed a consolation score after the full-time hooter, but it was too little too late - 26-12 to the All Stars.
In Game Two Shane Spring opened the scoring with a long-range try that started inside the Vikings' own 22 - with Spring both the creator and finisher. Fabian Juries then turned the clock back to his BlitzBok days, when he scored the Vikings' second and third five-pointers to make it 17-0 at the break. Mark Winter got the Mohicans on the board soon after the restart and then Andre Smit got them back into the contest with a second five-pointer. Josh Basingthwaighte scored the third try for the Mohicans, as they took the lead (19-17) three minutes into the second half. The Vikings awoke from their slumber, with a try by Anthony Volmink, but a try and conversion after the hooter gave the Mohicans a great come-from-behind 26-24 win.
The Bulls got underway with a controlled start that saw Travis Ismaiel open the scoring, before Johann Sadie getting one back for the Cheetahs. Raymond Rhule then got in on the act, before Clayton Blommetjies pulled one back for the Bulls to make it 14-12 to the Cheetahs at the break. Rhule started the second-half scoring with some sublime stepping and creative play by Sadie, but Christiaan de Bruin again hit back for the Bulls to tie it up at 19-all with less than a minute left on the clock. Philip Burger scored the winner, after Rhule set him up for a 60-metre sprint to the line.
Werner Kok opened the Scoring for the Samurai, after some great stepping by Justin Geduld, but Dirk Dippenaar got one back for the Living Ball outfit - leaving the teams level 7-all at the break. Alshaun Bock put the Living Ball into the lead, before Justin Geduld pulled one back for the Samurai - giving them a 14-12 lead with three minutes left on the clock. Albertus Kwagga Smith sealed the deal for Samurai with a strong run up the middle - 19-12 the final score.
Junior Bester opened the scoring for Kaizer Chiefs, after a patient build-up, but the Lions hit straight back through Jacques Nel. Shuaib Samaai then put the Chiefs back in the lead, giving them a 12-7 lead at the break. Ross Cronje scored to put the Lions in the lead with three minutes left on the clock, before Elmo Thomas regained the lead for the Chiefs. Jongi Nokwe sealed it for the Chiefs with a late score - 22-14
The Sharks wasted no time to open their account, Mzo Mbona cutting through the WP defence for the first try. Tim Swiel got one back for Province and scored a second as WP took a 12-7 lead. Peet Coetzee scored after the hooter to draw level, 12-all, at the break. Mzo Mbona got his second try, as the Sharks took the lead almost straight from the restart, before Chevandre van Schoor pulled it level midway through the second half. Dean Hammond put Province back in the lead with less than a minute left on the clock, but Mbona completed his hat-trick after the hooter - the conversion giving the Sharks a 24-22 win.
After a tense opening passage the All Stars got the scoring underway against the run of play when MJ Mentz scooped up an interception to race away. However, the Mohicans struck back straight away when Maties ace Josh Bassingthwaighte swept over on the left. The All Stars responded through JW Jonker who squeezed over in the corner after selling a huge dummy, but a late yellow card meant that the Mohicans were able to score on the stroke of half-time to make it 12-0 at the break. The second half sparked to life when replacement Danwell Demas spotted a gap and bolted clear. A yellow card to Rosco Specman gave the Mohicans a sniff and a great offload from Andre Smith saw MW Smit over in the corner. However, it was not enough and the All Stars held on to secure a 19-15 victory.
The Cheetahs took control early when Kevin Luiters accepted an offload from Hanise Graaff to open the scoring. The young scrumhalf turned from hero to villain when he was shown a yellow card, but that did not stop the Cheetahs from scoring next with the impressive Graaff going over in the corner after some neat play from Raymond Rhule. The Cheetahs extended that lead shortly after the break to put themselves in a commanding position. A further tries from Rhule and Sarel Pretorius sealed an emphatic 33-0 victory for the dangerous Free State side.
The Bulls were first to strike when some great stepping from Clayton Blommetjies created some space for Shaun Adendorff and he showed a clean pair of heels to score under the poles. The team from Pretoria kept the pressure on and tries to Andre Warner and Jesse Kriel put them firmly in the drivers seat as Boland struggled to keep up. Some silky skills from Eric Zana got Boland on the board just before half-time, but a brilliant kick-chase saw the Bulls have the last laugh before the break as Kriel cantered in for his second. Blommetjies continued Boland's pain in the second hald with a sensational individual effort which he converted from the touchline. Further tries from Jason Kriel and Daniel Kriel made it three tryscorers of the same surname as well as sealing a crushing 49-21 victory with two late conolations for Boland.
The Lins thought they had made the perfect start, but Ross Cronje lost control over the line and it was Samurai who scored first through their gas man Seabelo Senatla. Samurai made the most of their momentum, and tries from Jack Wilson and Senatla put them firmly in control with a 17-0 lead at half-time. The Lions hit back in the second half with two tries that put them right back in it, but late tries from Werner Kok and Senatla helped secure the 31-12 victory for Samurai.
Chiefs took the early initiative with some good structered play in Sharks territory and it wasn't long before they were over the tryline. The Sharks regrouped and put together some phases before Chiefs captain Breyton Paulse was shown a yellow card. He was joined in the sin bin by his teammate which gave the Sharks a huge opportunity which they took advantage of with three quick tries to give them a valuable 21-7 half-time lead. Chiefs hit back early in the second half to keep their hopes alive and after the Sharks' Terra Mthembu was shown a yellow card Chiefs got over in the corner to reduce the gap to just 21-19. It took a piece of individual brilliance from Sharks captain S'bura Sithole to put the game beyond Chiefs who finished with a bang courtesy of a long range try for Bom Samai to see the Sharks win 28-24 in the end.
Living Ball created all of the early pressure and they were rewarded with a quickfire double from Donovan Mairais, and when Earl Lewis collected a kick to over for another try on the stroke of half-time they were leading 19-0. Province were clearly battling to keep up in the last match of the day and the Living Ball ran in three further tries to come away with a comfortable 38-0 victory.
Day One results:
All Stars 26-12 Boland
Vikings 24-26 Mighty Mohicans
Blue Bulls 19-26 Cheetahs
Samurai 19-12 Living Ball
Kaizer Chiefs 22-14 Lions
Western Province 22-24 Sharks
All Stars 19-12 Cheetahs
Vikings 14-35 Boland
Blue Bulls 35-12 Mighty Mohicans
Samurai 19-12 Sharks
Kaizer Chiefs 33-19 Living Ball
Western Province 5-40 Lions
All Stars 19-15 Mighty Mohicans
Vikings 0-33 Cheetahs
Blue Bulls 49-21 Boland
Samurai 31-12 Lions
Kaizer Chiefs 228 Sharks
Western Province 0-38 Living Ball