The Free State XV beat defending champions Western Province 26-20 in the quarter-finals of the Provincial Rugby Challenge, while there were also wins for Griquas, the Sharks XV and Pumas.
On a muddy Green Point track field in Cape Town, Free State put up a strong second-half showing against a much-changed WP team, ending their unbeaten run which stretches back to the beginning of last season.
The Free State centre pairing of Benhard Janse van Rensburg and Carel Coetzee were the stars of the game, with Van Rensburg scoring a try and kicking three conversions to add to Coetzee’s brace, which powered the men from Bloemfontein to a memorable win.
Western Province, however, struggled to adapt to the conditions, despite scoring two well-worked tries through Tristan Leyds and centre David Brits.
Free State now face a trip to Kimberley in the semi-finals, where Griquas put in a powerhouse performance to hammer Boland 51-22.
Griquas flyhalf George Whitehead had a flawless day with the boot, converting five of their six tries to go along with three penalties. Fullback AJ Coertzen also put in a good performance, grabbing two tries to help put the Boland challenge away.
Meanwhile, the Sharks XV, featuring an experienced team with the likes of Garth April and Tera Mtembu, were far too strong for a young Golden Lions XV, scoring seven tries in a 55-12 victory.
April contributed 28 points, courtesy of a brace of tries to go with six conversions and two penalties, while fullback Courtney Winnaar also scored twice. Lions wing Wandisile Simelane, one of a plethora of Junior Springboks in the team, scored one of their two tries in a battling performance.
The Sharks will travel to Nelspruit to face the impressive Pumas who, courtesy of three penalty goals by the leading point-scorer in the competition Chris Smith, downed the Blue Bulls 30-24.
The Bulls outscored their opponents by four tries to three, with wing Xolisa Guma grabbing a brace, but it was not enough as flyhalf Thinus de Beer struggled to convert.
Pumas (30) – Tries: Jeandre Rudolph, Marne Coetzee, Frankie Herne. Conversions: Chris Smith (2), Justin van Staden. Penalties: Smith (3).
Blue Bulls (24) – Tries: Earll Douwrie, Xolisa Guma (2), Dewald Maritz. Conversions: Tinus de Beer, Douwrie.
Sharks XV (55) – Tries: Courtney Winnaar (2), Garth April (2), Grant Williams, Jeremy Ward, Tera Mtembu. Conversions: April (6), Francois de Villiers. Penalties: April (2).
Golden Lions XV (12) – Tries: Wandisile Simelane, James Venter. Conversion: Shaun Reynolds.
Griquas (51) – Tries: Kyle Steyn, Ederies Arendse, De Wet Kruger, Sias Koen, AJ Coertzen (2). Conversions: George Whitehead (5), Andre Swarts. Penalties: Whitehead (3).
Boland Cavaliers (22) – Tries: Rinus Bothma, Charles Mayeza, Edwin Sass. Conversions: Watts (2). Penalties: Elgar Watts.
Free State XV (26) – Tries: Carel Coetzee (2), Jasper Wiese, Benhard Janse van Rensburg. Conversions: Benhard Janse van Rensburg (3).
Western Province (20) – Tries: David Brits, Tristan Lleyds. Conversions: Grant Hermanus (2). Penalties: Hermanus (2).
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images