A look at the weekend’s rugby activity:

Currie Cup Premier Division results:
Lions 43 – 20 Cheetahs
Western Province 23 – 25 Sharks
Blue Bulls 35 – 20 Griquas

Currie Cup First Division results:
EP 20 – 12 Leopards
Griffons 34 – 67 Pumas
Border 32 – 39 Boland
Valke 22 – 47 SWD

Under 21 Results:
Western Province 14 – 18 Sharks
Lions 27 – 32 Free State
Blue Bulls 44 – 22 Leopards

Under 19 Results:
Western Province 16 – 6 Sharks
Lions 25 – 21 Free State
Bulls 13 – 8 Leopards

There were no school or club fixtures due to the “Long” weekend …

Match reports:

Blue Bulls (9) 35 Griquas (13) 20

Flyhalf Louis Fouchè scored 25 points as the Blue Bulls, under coach Pine Pienaar, came from behind to beat a spirited Griquas side at Loftus.

Griquas were their usual abrasive selves, especially up front, but indiscipline cost them dearly after the men from Kimberley led 13-9 at the break and looked set for an upset.

Former Bulls flyhalf Francois Brummer opened Griquas’ account with a penalty, after which wing Rocco Jansen rounded off a good move started by fullback Willie le Roux. But Le Roux soon went from hero to villain when he was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on opposite number Jürgen Visser.

The Bulls came out a different team after the break, flanker Arno Botha putting wing Akona Ndungane away while Fouchè kept potting his goals to keep Griquas, who did stage a mini-revival capped off with a try to lock Martin Muller, at arm’s length.

Blue Bulls – Tries: Ruan Snyman, Akona Ndungane. Conversions: Louis Fouchè (2). Penalties: Fouchè (7).
Griquas – Tries: Rocco Jansen, Martin Muller. Conversions: Francois Brummer (2). Penalty: Brummer. Drop goal: Brummer.

Golden Lions (23) 43 Cheetahs (6) 20

Flyhalf and man of the match Butch James kicked 21 points as the Golden Lions put yet another miserable Super Rugby Campaign behind them with a comprehensive victory over the Cheetahs to kick off their title defence in style.

The home side were the only team on the opening weekend to score four tries, and this means they climb to the top of the Premier Division table after Round 1.

For Naka Drotske’s outgunned Cheetahs, the form of scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius, who has returned from Australia where he played for the Waratahs in Super Rugby, was one of the few positives to take out of this encounter, with the other being the fantastic debut of World Championship-winning SA U20 wing Raymond Rhule, who scored a brace of tries in a losing effort.

Apart from that it was all the Lions, with eighthman Derick Minnie and Andries Coetzee starting the ball rolling with first-half tries as the home side went into the break leading by 17 points. The visitors came out strongly in the second period and, apart from setting up Rhule for his two scores, made too many mistakes to threaten the Lions.

Lions – Tries: Ruan Combrinck, Hendrik Roodt, Derick Minnie, Andries Coetzee. Conversions: Butch James (3), Guy Cronje. Penalties: James (5).
Cheetahs – Tries: Raymond Rhule (2). Conversions: Riaan Smit (2). Penalties: Smit (2).

Western Province (13) 23 Sharks (3) 25

Two tries from ever-improving hooker Craig Burden helped the Sharks to a nailbiting victory over WP at a rain-drenched Newlands – the KZN side’s second tight win there in two weeks – to show that, despite Springbok call-ups they have the firepower to challenge for domestic honours.

The home side squandered a 13-3 half-time lead – thanks to a converted try from hooker Tiaan Liebenberg and two early penalties from fullback Joe Pietersen – as the Sharks fought back through three quick tries to centre Paul Jordaan and Burden.

Trailing 23-22 with seven minutes remaining, after WP had scored a second through skipper Deon Fourie three minutes earlier, the visitors landed the killer blow when flyhalf Riaan Viljoen dropped what turned out to be the match-winning goal.

WP – Tries: Tiaan Liebenberg, Deon Fourie. Conversions: Joe Pietersen (2). Penalties: Pietersen (3).
Sharks – Tries: Paul Jordaan, Craig Burden (2). Conversions: Meyer Bosman (2). Penalty: Bosman. Drop goal: Riaan Viljoen

First Division:

EP (6) 20 Leopards (6) 12

EP are well on track to achieve their goal of promotion to the Premier Division after a hard-fought win over the Leopards gave the men from Port Elizabeth a handy six-point cushion going into the second round.

The match, played in front of a small crowd at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, wasn’t pretty on the eye but the home side got the job done, thanks to the accurate kicking of flyhalf George Whitehead and his replacement, Wesley Dunlop, and the finishing skills of Samoan Paul Perez.
Whitehead slotted two penalties in the first half, cancelled out by opposite number Andrè Pretorius, but ironically it was the yellow-carding of prop Clint Newland in the 44th minute that seemed to sting the Kings in to action. Pretorius made it 9-6 to the Leopards shortly afterwards, but Perez went over midway through the sin-bin period to put EP back in front – and so it stayed.

EP – Try: Paul Perez. Penalties: George Whitehead (3), Wesley Dunlop (2).
Leopards – Penalties: Andre Pretorius (4).

Valke (8) 22 SWD (25) 47

Fullback Elric van Vuuren had a day to remember on the bone-hard Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park, scoring 22 points to give SWD a comprehensive win.

Van Vuuren scored a try while also kicking four conversions and three penalties as the men from George romped home playing some exciting rugby – with wing Alshaun Bock’s try rounding off a length-of-the-field team effort that will be long remembered.

The Eagles raced into an early 25-3 lead and while the home side struck back through centre Hendrik Meyer, the visitors soon grabbed their bonus-point try via centre Nico Hanekom. The Valke fought back and at one stage were only 10 points adrift, but the Eagles then turned over ball on their own tryline, Van Vuuren surged upfield and handed the ball to Bock, who sprinted home.

Valke – Tries: Juan Kotze, Hendrik Meyer, Hannes Ludik. Conversions: Juan Kotze (2). Penalty: Karlo Aspeling.
Eagles – Tries: Nico Hanekom (2), Johan Herbst, Elric van Vuuren, Dumisane Meslane, Alshaun Bock. Conversions: Van Vuuren (4). Penalties: Van Vuuren (3).

Border (18) 32 Boland (15) 39

Centre Jacquin Jansen scored 29 points as Boland recorded a daring come-from-behind victory over the luckless Border.

The home side had actually led 18-3 early on and 32-21 midway through the second half, only to concede 18 unanswered points as the strong-finishing Kavaliers showed their class by scoring two tries in the final 10 minutes.

Jansen was the man who made all the difference, scoring two tries and kicking five penalties and two conversions, including a penalty in the dying minutes that sealed the victory.

Border – Tries: Shane Spring, Ruan Jacobs, Lesley-Dean Luiter, Chumani Booi, Chrislyn van Schalkwyk. Conversions: Quinton Crocker (2). Penalty: Jannie Myburgh.
Boland – Tries: Jonathan Francke, Jacquin Jansen (2), Eric Zana. Conversions: Jansen (2). Penalties: Jansen (5).

Griffons (26) 34 Pumas (24) 67

The Pumas overcame a half-time deficit to storm home against the Griffons. Centre JW Jonker raced over for a hat-trick, while flanker Uzair Cassiem and utility back Carl Bezuidenhout each grabbed a brace.

Griffons skipper Werner Griesel scored twice in a losing cause, and the Griffons must now regroup after losing three matches on the trot and slipping down to fifth in the standings.

Griffons – Tries: Werner Griesel (2), Shane Hancke, Sarel Louw, Hansie Graaff. Conversions: Tiaan van Wyk (3). Penalty: Van Wyk.
Pumas – Tries: Uzair Cassiem (2), JW Jonker (3), Eduan van der Walt, Corne Fourie, Carl Bezuidenhout (2), penalty try. Conversions: JC Roos (7). Penalty: Roos.

Below a pic of one of the men of the weekend, Craig Burden: