An excellent forwards-dominated display enabled Tafel Lager Griquas to power their way to a bonus-point 46-25 (halftime 24-18) Carling Currie Cup victory over DHL Western Province at a hot Tafel Lager Park in Kimberley on Sunday.
The front-men from Kimberley were relentless on attack and defence, scoring four of the six tries and laying the foundation for the brace of tries scored by right wing James Verity-Amm, who also had to spend 10 minutes in the sin-bin during the first half.
No matter what Province threw at the Griquas, the forwards repelled with interest as the Cape side’s most potent weapon, their driving maul, was nullified for most of the game. Griquas were also more potent with their backline play, making line-breaks more often as the Province backline went sideways for most of the game.
Griquas scored the first try of the game after flyhalves George Whitehead and Tim Swiel traded early penalties. The Griquas forwards mauled towards the Province line and despite an attempted counter-shove, man of the match Gideon van der Merwe broke away and the flanker dived over the line to give the home side a 10-3 lead midway through the first stanza.
But Verity-Amm was then shown a yellow card after Griquas were pinged for numerous penalties on their own line. Province managed to secure the ball and a lofted long-pass from Swiel enabled wing Sergeal Petersen to waltz over to level matters.
However, Provinces woes at the kick-off continued as Johan Du Toit missed numerous attempts to take the ball which allowed Griquas to come back strongly and score their second try as wing Eduan Keyter snatched the ball and drove for the line but it was flanker Henru Sirgel who picked up at the bas of the truck and barged over.
Province were then also reduced to 14 men as scrumhalf Paul de Wet was sin-binned for cynical play, stopping the hosts from getting quick ball on attack. With both sides missing a man, the visitors attacked after a mistake from Griquas at the kick-off with Province moving the ball to the right wing where centre Ruan Nel was able to collect another lofted pass and beat a defender over the line. Swiel, who landed two conversions and two penalties, missed from a tight angle to leave WP two points off the pace.
However, shortly before the break, Swiel gave Province the lead with his second penalty but the hosts would not have it going into the break behind and pressured the Province line as the hooter sounded in the stadium. Another forwards drive saw lock Ruan Steenkamp go over but was ruled no try by the TMO. But with a penalty advantage, the Griquas drove towards the line and Steenkamp’s partner, Adre Smit, forced his way over the line.
The second stanza was all about the home side as they scored three tries through Steenkamp, after another comical kick-off debacle from the visitors, and Verity-Amm’s brace. No matter what the visiting team tried, they were driven back in the tackle, stopped at maul-time and when they did mange the odd line-break, they fumbled and lost the ball forward.
Griquas began the second half, kicking towards the left-hand touchline but Du Toit again missed the mark, however Petersen was on hand to clean up but a pass to the left towards fullback Warrick Gelant, was fumbled and knocked over the dead ball line.
A strong scrum from the home side put the visitors under pressure and with the ball being driven towards the line, Steenkamp pick up from the base of the resulting ruck and forced his way over for the bonus-point try.
Verity-Amm then found some space out wide to go over for his first try of the afternoon with Whitehead, who landed five conversions and two penalties, missed from the right hand touchline.
Province managed to give themselves some hope of an unlikely comeback when replacement lock Neethling Fouche managed to barge over the line under the poles, reducing the deficit to 11 points with 15 minutes left on the clock, as Swiel landed the easy conversion.
But Griquas started to open up the game, running from all parts of the park, which put WP under severe pressure, resulting in Whitehead extending the lead to 14 points with his second penalty. The home side then rubbed salt into the Cape wounds when Verity-Amm rounded off the afternoon with his side’s sixth try.
The victory lifts Griquas into third on the log with 33 points, one ahead of the New Nation Pumas, whom they face next weekend in the final round of the competition. Province though still have a chance of making the semi-finals despite laying in fifth place on 30 points.
However, Western Province have to travel to Durban to take on the Cell C Sharks, who have already secured a home semi-final, and John Dobson’s charges will need to win away from home to potentially secure a knock-out position.
Tafel Lager Griquas – Tries: James Verity-Amm (2), Gideon van der Merwe, Hanru Sirgel, Adre Smith, Ruan Steenkamp; Conversions: George Whitehead (5); Penalties: Whitehead (2).
DHL Western Province – Tries: Sergeal Petersen, Ruan Nel, Neethling Fouche; Conversions: Tim Swiel (2); Penalties: Swiel (2).