Big guns fire as race heats up

Sun, 06 Apr 2014 13:07
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The play-off battle intensified in the Vodacom Cup this weekend, with all but one of the matches featuring big wins as the top teams stamped their authority.

The play-off battle intensified in the Vodacom Cup this weekend, with all but one of the matches featuring big wins as the top teams stamped their authority.

North section log leaders the Pumas delivered the highest score of the weekend, a phenomenal 88-0 victory against the Limpopo Blue Bulls, while Western Province accumulated 65 points and the Blue Bulls and Free State XV both came away with 54 points.

Both the North and South sections of the competition now have clear favourites to occupy the eight play-off spots up for grabs.

As things stand the unbeaten Pumas and Sharks XV remain the front runners to finish at the top of their respective logs, while the Free State XV, Western Province and the SWD Eagles appear to be South section favourites to advance to the play-offs.

The battle will be tighter in the North section where only three log points separate the second-placed Leopards XV and the Golden Lions in fifth place.

The Pumas scored an impressive 14 tries in their clash against the Limpopo Blue Bulls in Polokwane for their 88 points, while their solid defence denied the hosts a single point.

Five of their tries were scored in the first half, with wing Ashwin Scott and flank Jaco Bouwer scoring two each to add to another in the second half for a total of three tries for the match. Such was the quality of the team effort nine players crossed the tryline during the 80 minutes.

Western Province delivered an equally effective attacking performance for their 65-29 victory against the Simba XV in Cape Town and earned 11 tries for their efforts. The Simba XV put up a brave fight against the hosts with three first-half tries, but they were never going to stop the well-oiled Western Province machine and in-form wing Devon Williams, who scored a hat-trick before the break. Williams finished the match with four tries, while captain and flank Rohan Kitshoff earned three.

In Bloemfontein the Free State XV built up a convincing 28-0 lead at the break against the Border Bulldogs, and secured a 54-17 victory in what marked their fourth bonus-point win in five matches. Flank Wayven Smith and replacement forward Peet Coetzee accounted for four of the Free State XV's eight tries. While the team will be pleased with the win, they will be disappointed about leaking three tries in the last 16 minutes of the match.

The Blue Bulls were dominant from the outset against the Falcons at Loftus Versfeld and entered the break 37-7 up with their bonus point in the bag. They continued to apply pressure in the second half and increased their points tally to 54, while supporting this with a good defensive effort, which left the visitors scoreless in the second half. The victory propelled theBlue Bulls into the top four on the north section log.

The Leopards XV also secured a fantastic bonus-point 35-15 victory against the Griffons in Welkom, which pushed them into second place on the north section log. The first half was tight with the Leopards leading only 14-10 at the break. But they found their rhythm in the second half and scored three tries to only one by the home team.

The SWD Eagles pipped the EP Kings 23-21 in George to remain in the top four on the south section log with a favourable lead over their counterparts going into the last two pool rounds. The teams were neck-on-neck from the start with the Kings taking a 9-6 lead at half time. The Port Elizabeth side built on this in the third quarter. But their hopes of a victory were dashed by two tries followed by a well-timed drop goal by SWD Eagles flyhalf Karlo Aspeling with two minutes to go.

Griquas overcame two yellow cards in their clash against the Golden Lions in Johannesburg to hold on to a 33-18 lead for their fourth victory in the series. The hosts overpowered the Golden Lions early on and cruised to a 24-6 lead at the break with three tries, while the Lions had to settle for two penalties by Willie du Plessis. But two yellow cards in the second half resulted in the Lions bouncing back with two tries. Griquas fullback Gouws Prinsloo, however, kept the scoreboard rolling with penalties to keep the team in the driving seat.

The Sharks XV, meanwhile, registered a 43-27 victory against the Boland Cavaliers in Ceres outscoring the Boland side six tries to three. Springbok loose forward Keegan Daniel scored two of the Durban side's tries, while talented flyhalf Tim Swiel slotted over five conversions and a penalty to add to his try for a personal tally of 18 points.

All the scores and scorers:

Blue Bulls 54-7 Falcons

For the Blue Bulls:
Nell, Mastriet 2, Schoeman, Murray, Van der Walt 2
Cons: Schoeman 5
Pens: Schoeman 3

For the Falcons:
Con: Dumond

Griffons 15-35 Leopards XV

For the Griffons:

Tries: Le Roux, Nel
Con: Du Toit
Pen: Du Toit

For the Leopards XV:
Liebenberg, Tossel, Van der Merwe, Beukman, Mhlongo
Cons: Tossel, Nortier 4

SWD Eagles 23-21 EP Kings

For the SWD Eagles:
Bock, Khan
Cons: Aspeling 2
Pens: Aspeling 2
DG: Aspeling

For the EP Kings:
Du Preez, Dukisa
Con: Banda
Pens: Banda 3

Limpopo Blue Bulls 0-88 Pumas

For the Limpopo Blue Bulls:
For the Pumas:
Scott 3, Botha, Le Roux, Terblanche 2, Pretorius, Skorbinski, Bouwer 3, Pretorius, Sibiya
Cons: Botha, Pretorius 3, Van Staden 5

Free State XV 54-17 Border Bulldogs

For the Free State XV:
Cyster, Claassen, Lee, Coetzee 2, Smit, Smith 2
Cons: Smit 7

For the Border Bulldogs:
Ralarala, Nofemele, Putuma
Con: Zono

Griquas 33-18 Golden Lions

For the Griquas:
Greeff, Arendse, Van der Westhuizen
Cons: Prinsloo 3
Pens: Prinsloo 4

For the Golden Lions:
Penalty Try, De Wit
Con: Du Plessis
Pens: Du Plessis 2

Boland Cavaliers 27-43 Sharks

For the Boland Cavaliers:
Fortuin 2, Demas
Cons: Rust, Zana 2
Pens: Zana 2

For the Sharks:
: Van Tonder, Meyer, Daniel 2, Maseko, Swiel
Cons: Swiel 5
Pen: Swiel

Western Province 65-29 Simba XV

For Western Province:
Du Preez 2, Van Wyk, Williams 4, Kotze, Kitshoff 3
Cons: Van Aswegen 2, Coleman 3

For the Simba XV:
Ogutu, Chisanga, Opondo 2
Cons: Andola 3
Pen: Andola

Vodacom Cup logs:
(Under played, won, points)

North section
1. Pumas (5, 5, 22)
2. Leopards XV (5, 3, 17)
3. Griquas 5, 4, 17)
4. Blue Bulls (5, 3, 16)
5. Golden Lions (5, 3, 14)
6. Griffons (5, 1, 8)
7. Falcons (5, 1, 7)
8. Limpopo Blue Bulls (5, 0, 0)

South section
1. Sharks XV (5, 5, 22)
2. Free State XV (5, 4, 21)
3. Western Province (5, 4, 19)
4. SWD Eagles (5, 3, 16)
5. EP Kings (5, 1, 7)
6. Simba XV (5, 1, 7)
7. Boland Cavaliers (5, 1, 5)
8. Border Bulldogs (5, 1, 4)