Free State win game of fits and starts
The match between Free State and the Golden Lions at Craven Week in Middelburg was anything but fluid as Free State won 33-20.
The match between Free State and the Golden Lions, the main game of Day 2 at the 2014 Craven Week in Middelburg, was anything but fluid but the slightly more enterprising team which made fewer errors was the Free State and they won 33-20.
Slightly more enterprising but the try of the match belonged to the Golden Lions, a try started in their own 22 which brought them with in six points of the Free State, only for them to let themselves down with a thud from the kick-off.
Yet again handling was disappointing in this match. It and penalties ensured that it was a stop-start affair. In fact it was largely drab with so little continuity.
The game started with an ill omen when Golden Lions right wing, Justin Bhana, was tackled, injured and taken off on a stretcher after just two minutes of play. His place was taken by Odwa Nkunjana .
Golden Lions flyhalf Wikus van Biljon was off when the Free State were penalised but scrumhalf Ralton October kicked the goal. 3-0 after 9 minutes. Just two minutes later Louwtjie Steenkamp of Free State levelled the scores with the first of his four penalties in a match in which the teams each scored two tries.
In this part of the match Free State enjoyed 66% of the territory but then they were kicking a great deal with no suggestion that a try was imminent. But after the Golden Lions went ahead Free State reverted to type and began running with the ball, thus setting up their victory.
The Golden Lions mauled ahead from a line-out and Free State were penalised five metres from their line for trying to bring the maul down by grabbing a leg. The Golden Lions did not kick out for a line-out but preferred to set up what maul with a tap from Ralston October and a short pass to a big forward. The Golden Lions simply ran the maul over the line and their captain Gavin Delport fell down for the try which Wikus van Biljon converted. 10-3, and the Golden Lions seemed to be getting on top.
But Free State attacked from a penalty-provided line-out and De Wet Bezuidenhout broke brilliantly. Golden Lions were penalised in front of their posts, five metres from the line, but Free State tapped and bashed. De Wet Bezuidenhout was close. In fact they were right on the Golden Lions' line when Shirwin Cupido propelled his body a short distance forward and the TMO advised the referee that a try had been scored. 10-10 after 34 minutes.
Free State came back on the attack and could have taken the lead from a penalty but Shirwin Cupido opted to tap and dart fro the line, but he lost the ball to end the half.
The Golden Lions looked good when fullback Preston Karstens counterattacked but then they kicked and Free State counterattacked through Victor Maruping. They went through passing phases and suddenly captain Alex Jonker burst through past feeble defence to score. 17-10 after 43 minutes and a lead that Free State did not lose.
It was reduced a minute later when Wikus van Biljon goaled a penalty but then Louwtjie Steenkamp goaled three penalties and after 57 minutes Free State led 26-13, which was handy.
Then came the try of the match.
Free State were penalised inside the Golden Lions 22 and Ralston October tapped and the Golden Lions went right to Armandt Grobler who was still a metre ort two inside his 22 but suddenly the blond flier stepped on the gas and raced up the field, past a defender with sheer speed, past a defender with a swerve and over under the posts. Wikus van Biljon converted quickly and the score was 26-20 with three minutes to play. The Golden Lions were within winning distance.
That soon evaporated.. Free State kicked off and the ball went through the hands of the Golden Lions' lifted catcher. It bounced behind him and Victor Maruping shot out a bog hand to grab the ball and he loped over for a try at the posts. 33-20.
There were still two minutes to play in which the Free State attacked again.
Man of the Match: He was carried off injured just before the end but Shirwin Cupido was the life of the match.
For Free State:
Tries: Alex Jonker, Shirwin Cupido, Victor Maruping
Cons: Lourens Steenkamp 3
Pens: Lourens Steenkamp 4
For Golden Lions:
Tries: Armandt Grobler, Gavin Delport
Cons: Wikus van Biljon 2
Pens: Ralton October, Wikus van Biljon
Free State: 15 Louwtjie Steenkamp (Grey), 14 Patrick Mbangi (Louis Botha), 13 Julian Jordaan (Grey), 12 Mike Andrade (Grey), 11 Dale Koopman (Louis Botha), 10 DP de Lange (Sentraal), 9 Shirwin Cupido (Louis Botha), 8 Alex Jonker (captain) (Grey), 7 Victor Maruping (Louis Botha), 6 De Wet Bezuidenhout (Grey), 5 Ruben Schoeman (Grey), 4 Jurie Burger (Grey), 17 Gela Khanya (Louis Botha), 2 JC Janse van Vuuren (Grey), 18 IG Prinsloo (Grey)
Replacements: 16 Greydon Wenn (Louis Botha), 1 Ruben Terblanche (Grey), 3 Janu Botha (Grey),19 Kian Skippers (Louis Botha), 20 Dian Badenhorst (Grey), 21 Sentle Lehoko (Grey), 22 Jeandré Christian (Louis Botha)
Golden Lions: 15 Preston Karstens (Florida), 14 Justin Bhana (Florida), 22 Armandt Grobler (Monument), 12 Tshepo Thulo (Jeppe), 11 Sibusiso Nkosi (Jeppe), 10 Wikus van Biljon (Monument), 9 Ralton October (Florida), 8 Juan Lemmer (Monument), 20 Len Massyn (Monument), 6 Gavin Delport (Monument), 4 Rhyno Herbst (Monument), 19 Nyasha Turasenga (St Benedict's),3 Jaco Holtzhausen (Monument), 2 Justin Brandon (Monument), 17 Ricky Ngwabarra (Jeppe)
Replacements: 16 Willem du Plessis (KES), 1 Franco van der Berg (Randburg), 18 Bradley van Waardhuizen (Jeppe), 7 Constant Bekkerling (Helpmekaar), 5 Reinhard Nothnagel (Monument), 21 Odwa Nkunjana (Monument), 13 Ashley Lindewaal (Florida)
Referee: Stephan Geldenhuys
Assistant referees: Jaco Pretorius, Francois Pretorius
Assessor: Johan Zurich
Television match officials: Jason Jaftha/Jaco Kotze