George Whitehead kicked 12 points as Griquas claimed a 27-14 win over the Free State XV in the Provincial Rugby Challenge semi-final in Kimberley on Saturday.
Griquas will now contest the final for a second consecutive season. They will meet the Pumas in this year’s title-decider.
In a game of two halves, Griquas’ surging first-half display was enough to earn them the victory despite Free State’s dominant effort in the second period.
Griquas were clinical in their execution as they scored three unanswered converted tries – by lock Pieter van Vuuren, hooker Khwezi Mkhafu and wing Kyle Steyn – and a penalty by Whitehead for a healthy 24-0 lead at the break.
Free State were not short of scoring opportunities, but poor finishing let them down. Outside centre Benhard Janse van Rensburg also skewed what should have been a regulation penalty kick.
The visitors’ decision-making and discipline improved in the second half, allowing them to test Griquas’ defensive line more frequently. Free State were rewarded for their efforts when No 8 Jasper Wiese and inside centre Carel-Jan Coetzee ran in the only tries of the half.
But a second penalty goal from Whitehead, sandwiched between those scores, ensured that Griquas remained ahead, and that disadvantage proved too big a barrier for Free State to overcome.
Griquas – Tries: Pieter van Vuuren, Khwezi Mkhafu, Kyle Steyn. Conversions: George Whitehead (3). Penalties: Whitehead (2).
Free State XV – Tries: Jasper Wiese, Carel-Jan Coetzee. Conversions: Ernst Stapelberg (2).
Griquas – 15 AJ Coertzen, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Christopher Bosch, 12 Johnathan Francke, 11 Kyle Steyn, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Christiaan Meyer, 8 Conway Pretorius, 7 Sias Koen, 6 De Wet Kruger, 5 Pieter van Vuren (c), 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 NJ Oosthuizen, 2 Khwezi Mkhafu, 1 Devon Martinus.
Subs: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Liam Hendricks, 18 Ruan Kramer, 19 FP Pelser, 20 Damian Stevens, 21 Jonathan Janse van Rensburg, 22 André Swarts.
Free State XV – 15 Darren Adonis, 14 Francois Agenbach, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Carel-Jan Coetzee, 11 Vuyani Maqina, 10 Ernst Stapelberg, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Gerhard Olivier, 6 Niell Jordaan (c), 5 Dennis Visser, 4 Gunter Janse van Vuuren, 2 Reinach Venter, Boan Venter.
Subs: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Luan de Bruin, 18 Stephan Malan, 19 Justin Basson, 20 Ntokozo Vidima, 21 Ruan van Rensburg, 22 Sango Xamlashe.
Photo: Louis Botha/Gallo Images