Griquas claimed a stunning 27-23 victory over Western Province in Kimberley on Friday and became the first side to book a place in the semi-finals.
What a time to be alive. Griquas are top of the log and safely into the knockout stage, while powerhouses like the Sharks and Vodacom Blue Bulls languishing in the bottom half and are fighting for survival in the competition.
Admittedly, it is a shortened tournament this year. But still. Griquas are outperforming every other team in the Currie Cup.
Meanwhile John Dobson’s WP provisionally remain in fourth position, but they could relinquish the last available playoff spot to either the Sharks or Pumas who still have to play in this round.
Griquas had the upper hand in this match from beginning to end, but it must be said that they were aided by a less than ideal start from the visitors, who sent the initial kick off straight into touch.
That allowed Griquas a scrum in centre field and when they a won a penalty at the set piece, WP’s defence was at sixes and sevens when the hosts’ captain George Whitehead took a quick tap from which his side eventually scored.
That set the tone for the rest of the match. Uncompromising in their all-out-attack approach, Griquas bagged a second try through wing Eduan Keyter to take a 14-3 lead at the break.
After a penalty both ways, speedster Seabelo Senatla darted over for WP’s first five-pointer. But Griquas responded to another score from Ederies Arendse.
The game livened up somewhat once WP started to gain decent momentum from go-forward ball. But Griquas’ stern defence refused to cave.
It was from a defensive turnover on their own tryline that Griquas launched a scintillating counter-attack, only to be stop metres from the tryline by a piece of cynical play from Ruhan Nel, who got a yellow card for his effort.
In a helter-skelter finish, WP tried their utmost to get on the right end of the result.
In his first game back from injury, Bok hopeful Damian Willemse put together an inspiring cameo which led to two late tries, but as it turned out, it was too little too late for WP, who had to settle for a losing bonus point.
Griquas – Tries: Ederies Arendse (2), Eduan Keyter. Conversions: George Whitehead (3). Penalties: Whitehead (2).
Western Province – Tries: Seabelo Senatla (2), Nama Xaba. Conversion: SP Marais. Penalties: Marais (2).
Griquas – 15 Anthony Volmink, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Michal Haznar, 12 Andre Swarts, 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 George Whitehead (c), 9 Zak Burger, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Zandre Jordaan, 5 Victor Sekekete, 4 Ian Groenwolad, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 AJ le Roux, 1 Khwezi Mona.
Subs: 16 Wilmar Arnoldi, 17 Mox Mxoli, 18 Johan Momsen, 19 Gideon van der Merwe, 20 Chriswill September, 21 Chris Smit, 22 Bjorn Basson, 23 Ruan Kramer.
Western Province – 15 SP Marais, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 JD Schickerling, 6 Ernst van Rhyn, 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Chad Solomon, 1 Corne Fourie.
Subs: 16 Schalk Erasmus, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 David Meihuizen, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Damian Willemse, 23 Edwill van der Merwe.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images