Griffons soar to First Division glory
REPORT: The Griffons spread their wings in the second half to claim an emphatic 44-25 victory over the Leopards to claim the First Division title in Potchefstroom on Friday.
The Griffons overpowered the Leopards as they put their bodies on the line on defence and used their point-scoring chances effectively. The defeat for the Leopards marked their first loss in 19 matches and denied them from winning back-to-back titles.
Unfortunately for the hosts, two yellow cards and several unforced errors at crucial times contributed to their demise.
The Leopards opened the scoring with a Johan Deysel penalty in the second minute but the Griffons hit back with a try by flyhalf George Whitehead in the ninth minute. He converted the score to hand his side a 7-3 lead.
Whitehead then extended that lead to 10-3 with a 25th-minute penalty following a competitive spell by both teams. The Leopards broke through for their first try of the match in the 27th-minute compliments of a well-timed pass to centre Adriaan Vermeulen but the unsuccessful conversion left them trailing 8-10.
Both teams added a penalty goal in the next 10 minutes but the Griffons had the final say in the half as fullback Selvyn Davids used his raw pace to round off the team's second try, following a break in the midfield to take a 20-11 lead at the break.
The Leopards cut into their opponents' lead four minutes after the restart when fullback Jaco Hayward touched down in the corner. Deysel added the extras to trail 18-20.
Just as it seemed as though they were gaining momentum, captain Jeandre Rudolph received a yellow card for infringing at a ruck which allowed Whitehead to slot over another penalty and stretch their lead to 23-18.
The Griffons then scored a fantastic try through centre Tertius Kruger after he snuck through a gap in the defence on the hour mark to ensure a 30-18 lead.
With 10 minutes remaining in the match, flyhalf Gene Willemse received the Leopards' second yellow card after a dangerous tackle which resulted in a penalty try. Whitehead popped over the conversion to take the score to 37-18.
Despite being a man down, the Leopards kept their slim hopes alive with a 76th minute Deysel try. However, that glimmer of hope was wiped out by Kruger's second try of the match which sealed the victory.
For the Leopards:
Tries: Deysel, Hayward, Vermeulen
Cons: Deysel 2
Pens: Deysel 2
For the Griffons:
Tries: Kruger 2, Davids, Whitehead, Penalty try
Cons: Whitehead 5
Pens: Whitehead 3
Leopards: 15 Jaco Hayward, 14 Dean Gordon, 13 Adrian Vermeulen, 12 Johan Deysel, 11 Bradley Moolman, 10 Gene Willemse, 9 Malherbe Swart, 8 Jeandre Rudolph (captain), 7 Henro-Pierre Swart, 6 Juan Language, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Sthembiso Mhlongo, 3 Dewald Dekker, 2 Dane van der Westhuyzen, 1 Roan Grobbelaar.
Replacements: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 Kabelo Motloung, 18 Francois Robertse, 19 Marno Redelinghuys, 20 Chriswill September, 21 Sandile Kubeka, 22 Jaco Jordaan.
Griffons: 15 Selvyn Davids, 14 Vuyo Mbotho, 13 Tertius Kruger, 12 Japie Nel, 11 Warren Williams, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Boela Abrahams, 8 Martin Sithole, 7 Boela Venter, 6 Vincent Maruping, 5 Dennis Visser, 4 Gavin Annandale (captain), 3 Gerhard Engelbrecht, 2 Khwezi Mkhafu, 1 Daniel van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Elandre Huggett, 17 Heinrich Roelfse, 18 Willem Serfontein, 19 Samora Fihlani, 20 Duan Pretorius, 21 Louis Venter, 22 Joubert Engelbrecht.
Referee: Quinton Immelman
Assistant referees: Jaco van Heerden, Lesego Legoete
TMO: Johan Greeff
Under-20 Championship Final
Griffons 22-16 Boland
In the Under-20 Championship Final, five penalties by Griffons' wing Jeandre Christian, who also converted his team's only try, handed the Welkom side the edge as they held on for a 22-16 victory over Boland.
The Griffons forced their way into a 16-0 lead in the first half thanks to three penalties and a try by flank Gift Dlamini.
Boland staged a strong fightback after the break as replacement back Keagan Fortune slotted three penalties to add to a try by No.8 Colin April, which left the teams tied at 16-16 with 14 minutes to play.
Two more Christian penalties pushed the Griffons 22-16 ahead with four minutes left on the clock. The dying minutes were gripping as Boland worked their way close to the try line but were denied by a stubborn defence, which sealed the victory for the Griffons.
For the Griffons:
Pens: Christian 5
Pens: Keagan Fortune 3
Referee: Sindile Ngcese
Assistant referees: Oregopotse Rametsi, Paul Mente
TMO: Johan Greeff