Defending champions and 12-time winners Maties sent out an ominous warning to the rest of the field on the opening day of the 34th National Club Champs, when they crushed invited team Raiders 65-11 at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch.
Rugby 365 reports that there were also first-round wins for Tukkies, College Rovers, Roses United, University of Johannesburg, CUT Ixias and Pukke, while Falcons champions Brakpan emerged as dark horses for the title after a clinical display against two-time champions Despatch, who were making their first appearance at the tournament since 1993.
In the Bowl competition, there were wins for SWD’s Barbarians and Boland’s Wesbank.
Brakpan, led superbly by provincial lock Nico Luus, set an early benchmark as far as the tournament’s open clubs are concerned, while Tukkies showed enough in their nailbiting 31-28 win over WP’s SK Walmers that they, too, can be counted among the possible title contenders.
The Club Champs resumes at 10am on Tuesday, when the Plate quarterfinals and the second round of the Bowl kick off. The first of the Cup quarterfinals start at 1pm at the Danie Craven Stadium, with the main match kicking off at 17.30
Day One wrap:
Barbarians 12 Eersterust 0
In the first of two Bowl matches played on Sunday, SWD Premier League runners-up Barbarians scored two first-half tries and then defended manfully in the second period to run out deserved victors over Blue Bulls side Eersterust.
Barbarians centre Joe Breytenbach and hooker Raymorty du Preez touched down for the Mossel Bay team, with flyhalf John Cooper, the former Golden Lions scrumhalf, converting one of his team’s tries.
Barbarians now face Eastern Province Grand Challenge runners-up Gardens in their second Bowl match on Tuesday, while Eersterust play Wesbank, who currently lie in second place behind Roses United in the Boland Premier League.
Wesbank 38 Gardens 10
Right wing Josef Baardman was deservedly named man of the match after scoring two tries in Wesbank’s surprisingly comprehensive win over Gardens, who finished runners-up to Despatch in the Eastern Province Grand Challenge.
Wesbank scored five tries to two, with the Malmesbury club’s other touchdowns coming courtesy of centre Arno Hendricks, lock Ian Adams, and tighthead prop Jeremia Titus. Flyhalf Jannie Barendse kicked two conversions and three penalties.
For Gardens, flank Archie Gans and replacement back Warren du Toit scored consolation tries in what was very much a one-sided victory for the Bolanders.
College Rovers 45 Buffalo 26
In an match in which both coastal teams gave the ball plenty of air, KwaZulu-Natal champions College Rovers ran in seven tries against Border champions Buffalo to qualify for Tuesday’s Cup quarterfinals.
Rovers, with Sharks players Chris Jordaan (fullback), Riaan Swanepoel (centre) and Sandile Nxumalo (scrumhalf) at the helm, raced into a commanding lead at the break against a Buffs side that were slightly outweighed up front but certainly not lacking in experience, thanks to the presence of former Springbok hooker Delarey du Preez in the No.1 jersey.
Rovers’ tries were scored by centre Jarryd Nash and Swanepoel, wing Wesley Bodmer, eighthman Abonga Nkwelo, flank Justin Downey, and replacements Neil Cole and Maluzi Zuma. Flyhalf Andrew Borgen kicked three conversions, with Jordaan and replacement back Chris Micklewood, the former KwaZulu-Natal Schools fullback, slotting one each.
For Buffalo, left wing Dennis Taylor and hooker Sean Hoole touched down while flyhalf Rynard Gerber kicked three penalties and two conversions. Fullback Jeff Taljaard also kicked three points.
Brakpan 31 Despatch 18
Falcons champions Brakpan sent out a strong warning to the rest of the field as they dismantled an equally physical Despatch outfit in the opening match of the tournament.
Led superbly by captain Nico Luus, the Falcons lock, Brakpan scored four converted tries against the Eastern Province champions, who, despite a promising start, were gradually worn down by their abrasive and well-drilled Gauteng opponents.
Up front, tighthead prop Jaco Koen was unstoppable with the ball in hand while nuggety left wing Tobie Strydom proved a handful and fully deserved his two early tries.
Loosehead prop Zane Killian and replacement loose forward Herman Rens also touched down for Brakpan while fullback Willem Slabbert was on target with one penalty and four conversions – two of which were excellent corner-flag efforts.
Despatch, making their first club champs appearance in 15 years, began well and their early physical pressure was rewarded with a drop-goal from flyhalf Christo Scriven.
Brakpan were heavily penalised early on but they gradually asserted themselves in the tight loose, while the Despatch backs, who saw plenty of ball, were often guilty of running laterally.
The Eastern Cape side did however finish strongly, with tries from left wing Ruan Griesel and replacement Heinrich Crouse, while fullback Elric van Vuuren kicked a conversion and a penalty to add respectability to the final scoreline and give them confidence for the Plate.
Pukke 42 Bridgton 5
Leopards champions Pukke recovered from a slow start against the SWD champions to score seven tries and so set up a quarterfinal date with arch rivals the University of Johannesburg.
Tenacious tackling from Bridgton restricted the heavier Potch students to just three tries in the first half of a scrappy encounter. Pukke, the 2006 club champions, scored another four after the break to seal a solid victory but they will no doubt have to up their game if they are to be considered strong title contenders this year.
Pukke’s tries were scored by fullback Warren Pietersen, centre Wouter Watermeyer, left wing Lola Waka, flank Barko Engelbrecht, locks Rynard Landman and Wentzel de Jongh, and replacement flank Nelis Nel. Flyhalf Marcel du Toit could only manage two conversions and a penalty.
UJ 17 Welkom 8
Griffons champions Welkom gave the University of Johannesburg a big scare in what was expected to be a comfortable rout for the Gauteng students.
It didn’t turn out that way at all, with the physical Northern Free Staters keeping UJ scoreless in a second half that provided them with plenty of opportunities for what would have been a famous upset.
UJ scored three first-half tries through scrumhalf Jacques Botes, eighthman Gerhardt van Schalkwyk and flank Werner Roos, with flyhalf Collen van Staden kicking one conversion.
Welkom lock AC Vosloo touched down in the opening period as the Griffons side went into the half-time break trailing by only 12 points against the students, but a solitary penalty from fullback Hugo Kleynhans in the second half was all that Welkom could muster, as they now set their sights on the Plate.
CUT Ixias 29 Kimberley Police 13
Free State champions Ixias came from behind to beat a gallant Kimberley Police side in the first game of this year’s tournament to be played at the Danie Craven Stadium.
The Bloemfontein students ran in five tries, through fullback Cornel Greyling, centre Jaco Meyer (2), left wing Alec Mslanga and flank Willie Haywood, while Greyling added two conversions.
Police, who led at half-time, ran out of steam at the end but they will be proud of their efforts. Flyhalf Morné van Deventer scored a try and kicked a penalty, while the rest of the Bobbies’ points came from the boot of right wing Hennie Janse van Rensburg, who kicked a penalty and converted Van Deventer’s try.
Roses United 32 Nelspruit 20
Right wing Brendon April was the hero for Boland champions Roses United, scoring a hat-trick of tries to seal a hard-fought victory over Nelspruit in front of a large crowd of travelling supporters.
The Mpumalanga champions led at half-time and their more structured approach put them in control until a number of unforced errors allowed Roses – and specifically the lightning-quick April – to capitalise with telling effect.
Roses’ left wing Alvin Hugo also crossed the line while scrumhalf John-Lee Nortjé kicked three conversions and a penalty. Flyhalf Enrico Nortjé kicked a drop-goal.
For Nelspruit, flyhalf Pieter Prinsloo, tighthead prop Willem du Plooy and hooker Hendrik van Zyl scored tries, while centre Gunther Swart kicked a conversion and Prinsloo a drop-goal.
Tukkies 31 SK Walmers 28
The odds on Blue Bulls champions Tukkies winning this year’s tournament shortened after they pulled off a nailbiting victory over Western Province Super League club SK Walmers in the main curtain-raiser.
The University of Pretoria students opened up an early 10-0 lead but Walmers clawed their way back into an absorbing encounter, before losing their way in the final quarter against a streetwise and super-fit student outfit.
In a fast-flowing and open game, both teams looked dangerous in broken play but it was Tukkies who were just that bit more clinical when it came to finishing off their opportunities.
That said, Walmers almost pulled the match out of the fire when, trailing 31-14, they scored two quick tries in the dying minutes, but Tukkies hung on at the end to progress to the last eight.
For Tukkies, centre Franco Booysen, left wing Oscar Mfundisi, eighthman Sisa Mafu, flank Gert Lubbe and lock Devin Oosthuizen scored tries, while elusive flyhalf Shaun Davids kicked two conversions and replacement Chandré Bosshoff one.
For SK Walmers, right wing Raithaan Petersen, centre Cleopas Makotose, and replacement hooker Hugo Lambrecht scored tries. Flyhalf Adnaan Osman kicked three penalties and two conversions.
Maties 65 Raiders 11
Maties, the defending champions, easily swept aside SARU invited team Raiders in the main game of the opening day, to set up an intriguing derby quarterfinal against Boland champions Roses United.
Raiders, who only managed to finish seventh in the Golden Lions’ Pirates Grand Challenge league this year, were never going to trouble the Western Province champions, who went into the match on the back of a 102-0 WP Super League A win over Tygerberg.
Maties scored their 10 tries through fullback Therlow Pietesen, centre Jean Stemmet (2), left wing Louw Schabort, flanks Chase Minnaar and Wesley Wilkens, lock Bertho van der Westhuizen (2), prop Pieter van Eyssen and replacement wing Wilhelm Loock. Right wing Henoe Stoffberg kicked six conversions and one penalty for a personal haul of 15 points.
For Raiders, flyhalf Russel Mouton kicked two penalties while left wing Gerald Sibanda scored a well-taken consolation try.
Fixtures for Tuesday, 09 September 2008:
BOWL (second round):
Gardens v Barbarians – 10.00
Wesbank v Eersterust – 11.30
Welkom v Bridgton – 10.00
Kimberley Police v Despatch – 11.30
SK Walmers v Buffalo – 10.00
Raiders v Nelspruit – 11.30
Danie Craven Stadium:
UJ v Pukke – 13.00
CUT Ixias v Brakpan – 14.30
Tukkies v College Rovers – 16.00
Maties v Roses United – 17.30