Surprise leaders Griquas cemented their place at top of the Currie Cup standings with a deserved 23-19 win over the Golden Lions in their Round Four match on Friday.
As was expected Griquas laid the foundation for victory up front, where their settled of forwards dominated against the patchwork Lions pack, according to Rugby365.
Not only did Griquas retain their unbeaten record, but they actually outscored the home team by two tries to one.
In an overwhelming, superior display by the Griquas’ forwards, they were able to dismantle and demoralize a Lions side that never really looked in the match until the closing 10 minutes.
In the first half especially, Dawie Theron’s men created a number of turnovers at the breakdown and laid the foundation for the victory.
The Lions simply were not able to compete at ruck time and looked like they lacked the leadership created by their absent scrumhalf Jano Vermaak, who missed the game due to concussion.
Even on the rare occasion when they did attack the Lions failed to capitalize on their opportunities.
Griquas opened the scoring night with Naas Olivier rounding off a beautiful counter attack that started in their own 22 metre area.
The Lions kicked the ball deep and straight into the hands of Dewald Pretorius, who sparked the magic by quickly spreading the ball wide. By the time the ball reached the hands of Olivier the Lions looked in trouble.
Olivier proceeded to try a little grubber kick and at Herkie Kruger’s failure to gather it, he was allowed the opportunity to toe-poke the ball over the try-line and eventually concluded the move diving on the ball to score the games first try. He duly added the extra two points with relative ease, 7-0.
The forwards of the Griquas completely dominated in the opening 40 minutes and the Lions struggled to contend with the pressure at ruck time.
Consequently the men from Kimberley forced a number of turnovers in the half. It was only a matter of time before the Lions conceded a penalty and they did so in the 12th minute of the match. Olivier rewarded his forwards hard work slotting the ball through the up-rights, 10-0.
The Lions did managed to hit back in the 22nd minute, all be it against the run of play. All out in attack the Griquas looked certain to score, but one wayward pass saw Earl Rose catch an intercept and nearly run the length of the field. Realising he was going to be reeled in, Rose slowed down and waited for his support before off-loading to Alwyn Hollenbach, who score under the posts. Kruger made no mistake with the conversion, 7-10.
The men from Kimberley were barely fazed by that run away try and continued with their domination in the forwards and on the field of play in general.
They quickly restored their 10-point lead five minutes later when Barry Geel dotted down, a period of sustained pressure by the Griquas. Oliver in fitting manner added the two points, 17-7 to the visitors.
Olivier further extended his side’s lead four minutes before the half-time break. The Lions conceded another penalty because of the pressure created by the Griquas forward pack and Olivier rewarded them, 20-7 to Griquas.
In the second half the Lions tried to claw their way back into the game and moved within a converted try of their opponents as Kruger added two early penalties to bring the score to 13-20.
However, despite the spirited fightback, the Lions hopes were dealt a sever blow in the 54th minute when they were reduced to 14 men after Rouan Cloete was sin-binned for a late tackle.
Still the Lions showed their determination and continued to push forward.
They attacked for long periods of play but failed to come away with any points as the continued to squander golden scoring opportunities.
Kruger did manage to pull his side within four points in the 66th minute with another penalty, but Griquas restored their seven point lead four minutes later with a penalty of their own, converted by Riaan Viljoen, 16-23.
Kruger did make for a nailbiting final couple of minutes when he scored his fourth penalty of the game with five minutes to go, 19-23.
The Griquas, however, managed to hold onto their narrow lead and finished deserved winners.
For the Lions:
Pens: Kruger 4
Tries: Olivier, Geel
Cons: Olivier 2
Pens: Olivier 2, Viljoen
Yellow card: Rouan Cloete (Lions, 54 – foul play, late tackle)
Lions: 15 Earl Rose, 14 Dusty Noble, 13 Alwyn Hollenbach, 12 Rouan Cloete, 11 Johan Jackson, 10 Herkie Kruger, 9 Chris Jonck, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Franco van der Merwe, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Willem Stoltz, 4 Nico Luus, 3 Gert Muller, 2 Hans van Dyk, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Replacements: 16 Derek Harwood, 17 Kevin Buys, 18 Johan Snyman, 19 Derick Minnie, 20 Freddie van Zyl, 21 Rouan Boshoff, 22 Henno Mentz
Griquas: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Dewald Pretorius, 13 Jaco Bekker, 12 Barry Geel, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Naas Olivier, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Jonathan Mokuena (captain), 7 Davon Raubenheimer, 6 Rohan Kitshoff, 5 Jacques Lombaard, 4 Brendon Snyman, 3 Ruaan du Preez, 2 Rayno Barnes, 1 Albertus Buckle.
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Steph Roberts, 18 Heinrich Stride, 19 Sean Plaatjies, 20 Dougie Hellmuth, 21 Hanno Coetzee, 22 Egon Seconds/Gavin Passens.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Assistant referees: Stu Berry, Reuben Rossouw