Despite four tries from Griquas Country Districts captain Junior Burger, the Falcons still managed a 44-24 win in their Craven Week clash on Thursday.
The Valke were just smoother and more composed than the side from up Upington way. More urban was more urbane. On e the other hand the Griquas Country Districts were willing and filled with effort, relying heavily on two brilliant loose forwards, eighthman Jasper Wiese and flank Junior Burger who captains the side.
Burger scored an enormous four tries - all his side's tries, and had one turned down by the TMO. The Valke had also scored four tries till their late pair in the last four minutes. Burger's performance was huge. Three of the tries it is true were from close by but one was a long-range affair when Valke were sloppy at a line-out and Theuns Visser grabbed and sent his captain on a long run with two powerful hanf-offs for the try. But the closest the Griquas Country Districts got was 32-24 as Ruan Potgieter's goal-kicking was better than that of the Griquas Country Districts, who had missed two penalty attempts in the first few minutes.
The Griquas Country Districts were outplayed at scrum and line-out until the second half when they had a good run on the Valke line-out. The Valke relied, nearly exclusively, on their captain Estian Enslin at the line-out, a big man.
The Valke tuned two penalties into five-metre line-outs in quick succession. They lost a turnover at the first but they mauled the second and big Marco Holmes, riding shotgun, scored the first try. 5-0 after 17 minutes.
The second Valke try came when Griquas Country Districts were on attack. A poor pass went to ground and Morné Swart picked it up and gave it inside to left wing Eldron van Rooyen who raced down the left some 80 metres and then went in under the posts. 12-0
Griquas Country Districts came roaring back and some excellent handling sent hooker Hanro Visagie hurtling for the corner but he lost the ball in going over. The referee then called in an advantage and went back for a penalty to Griquas Country Districts under the Valke posts and five metres from their line. Griquas Country Districts tapped and bashed, and Burger scored his first try. 12-5 after 26 minutes.
Two penalty goals by Potgieter took the score to 18-5 at half-time, a considerable lead.
The Valke attacked right from the start of the second half. From a line-out they mauled and then went left to Potgieter who thumped out a hand-off and scored at the posts. 25-5 after 36 minutes. It seemed a hiding was in the offing.
Griquas Country Districts turned a penalty into a line-out. Another penalty and this time they tapped and bashed and Burger scored his second try. 25-12 as Cobus van Niekerk converted. But they nearly squandered their promise when they dropped the ball and Potgieter footed it through just missing the ball as he dived at it just short of the dead-ball line.
From a scrum the Valke attacked as scrumhalf Marco Jansen van Vuuren darted towards the posts. They went left and then passed back to the tight to hooker Pieter Jansen who was unmarked and fell over under the posts. 32-12 after 49 minutes.
Then came the sloppy Valke line-out which Visser got and gave to Burger who galloped off with noble stride for his long-range try. 32-17 after 55 minutes as again the conversion attempt went awry.
Back came the Valke and powerful centre Sampie Hearn dived over under the posts, but lost the ball in Burger's tackle.
Griquas Country Districts stole a Valke line-out and Wiese went on a powerful run. They charged down a clearing kick. Enslin saved but the Griqua side got the ball. This was when the TMO decided that Burger had not scored his fourth try.
Griquas Country Districts tapped a penalty and bashed. Burger was over but held up. Back they went for a scrum. Wiese attacked on the blind but back the ball came to Burger who surged over, not troubled by three defenders. Pieter Toua converted. 32-24 after 66 minutes.
The Valke were not to be denied and used the remaining time to score two tries, the first when good handling by forwards gave Darren de Bruin enough of an overlap to score in the right corner. 37-24.
Then from a line-out Holmes broke away and gave to Jansen van Vuuren on his left and the scrumhalf was over in the left corner. From touch Potgieter converted.
Man of the Match: Junior Burger. That was an easy choice.
For Griquas Country Districts:
Tries: Burger 4
Cons: Van Niekerk, Toua
For the Falcons:
Tries: Holmes, Van Rooyen, Potgieter, Jansen, de Bruin, Jansen van Vuuren
Cons: Potgieter 5
Pens: Potgieter 2
Griquas Country Districts: 15 Darryl de Wee, 14 Gavian Cloete, 13 Pieter Toua, 12 Johnathan Steenkamp, 11 Josh van Heerden, 10 Lukas van Niekerk, 9 Jean-Albert le Roux, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Abraham Burger, 6 Theunis Visser, 5 Ryno Karstens, 4 Rayno Nel, 3 Jan-Hendrik van Wyk, 2 Hendrik Visagie, 1 Sergio Boer.
Replacements: 16 Morgan Engelbrecht, 17 Hendrik Nel, 18 Dylan du Plessis, 19 Ruan Venter, 20 Christiaan Oppermann, 21 Bokang Tsabang, 22 Romario van Rooyen.
Falcons: 15 Kobus Engelbrecht, 14 Darren de Bruin, 13 Sampie Hearn, 12 Xander Cronje, 11 Eldron van Rooyen, 10 Ruan Potgieter, 9 Marco Jansen van Vuuren, 8 Marco Holmes, 7 Morné Swart, 6 Joswin de Wee, 5 Estian Enslin, 4 Rholane Ngubuka, 3 Ben Wepener, 2 Pieter Jansen, 1 Arnout Malherbe.
Replacements: 16 Marius Greyvensteyn, 17 Daniel Pitsi, 18 Donovan-Leroy Venter, 19 Luthando Mlotshwa, 20 Ryan Solomons, 21 Cameron Rooi, 22 Jacqone de Villiers.