Griquas cemented their place in the Currie Cup top four with an impressive 36-31 win over the Golden Lions at Hoërskool Diamantveld, Kimberley, on Saturday – the boot of Naas Olivier the major contributor to the winning margin.
While the Lions will cling to the slim mathematical chance they still have of reaching the play-offs, for all practical purposed Griquas have knocked them out of the race.
It was mercilessly hard all match at Hoërskool Diamantveld in Kimberley – and then the last 15 minutes were just an agonising crescendo as the Golden Lions came close and then took the lead.
Then with six minutes to play Griquas got the lead back, but the Golden Lions came roaring back. They were held up, but with 20 seconds to play and trailing 31-36 they had a scrum five metres from the Griqua line.
It was epic. It was a hard place for heroes.
The match was played at the school’s grounds because Bafana Bafana were playing Madagascar at the GWK Stadium.
The school ground is comfortable and the crowd was enthusiastic for the vital clash for both sides. It was almost last chance saloon for the Golden Lions and so important for the Kimberleyites as they head to three tough matches in their last three weeks – against Western Province, the Sharks and the Blue Bulls.
It was a game of fluctuating fortunes. It started with the Golden Lions giving the distinct impression that they were going to run away with things. Then the early part of the second half suggested that the Griquas were going to run away with the Golden Lions. In the end it was a scrap to the thrilling finish.
Rugby is a game of consequences and it was a yellow card for Griquas that nearly sunk them for in that time, when they led 29-18, they conceded 13 points and looked to be heading for defeat. Yellow card over they headed back to victory.
The Golden Lions lost Willem Alberts at the start of the match. The big, effective No.8 had a stomach bug and so went to the bench while Derick Minnie started and played with verve till near the end Alberts bullocked his way back.
It took the Golden Lions little time to get going. They kicked off and attacked from a line-out on their left. They went right, then back left and Johan Jackson had an overlap and an easy run in for the try. 7-0 in just three minutes.
Naas Olivier of the metronomic boot kicked two penalties before the Golden Lions came storming back with Dusty Noble, Doppies la Grange and Franco van der Merwe providing the impetus till Minnie plunged at the line and just got the ball down. 12-6 after 13 minutes.
Half-time came with the score 15-12 to the Golden Lions as Olivier kicked a penalty, then Kruger and then Olivier again.
But Griquas could have been ahead as Trompie Nontshinga and Mokuena burst for the line. Pretorius picked up and dived over the heap of the tackle/ ruck but the TMO was able to confirm that he just dropped the ball as he sought to ground it. It was close, this match, and it was going to stay close, except for the early part of the second half.
Griquas were right at the line as Jaco Bekker and Heinrich Stride attacked but La Grange won a vital turnover to save the Golden Lions. Still when tall Van der Merwe tackled short Sarel Pretorius high, the immaculate Olivier goaled to make the score 15-all after 43 minutes. A penalty by Kruger when Kitshoff was offside at a maul put the Golden Lions back in the lead at 18-15 after 48 minutes.
Back came Griquas and Jonathan Mokuena charged off an attacking scrum and was close, as was Stride again. Barry Geel was right at the line but Rohan Kitshoff lost the ball. This gave the Golden Lions a scrum five metres from their line. They heeled but Pretorius pilfered the ball and darted at the line. This gave the Griquas a five-metre scrum. They bashed and then went wide to the left where Trompie Nontshinga accepted a skipped pass from Olivier and skated over. 22-18 to Griquas after 51 minutes.
Earl Rose kicked across the field to Nontshinga who kicked downfield. His kick was partially charge which sent the Griquas rushing to use their onside fortune and the Golden Lions were scrambling in defence. Geel did well and quick ball from the tackle on him came to Pretorius who gave a short pass to Olivier who came cutting thorough at full tilt to score under the bar. 29-18 to Griquas after 54 minutes.
Jano Vermaak was stretchered off with a leg injury and it seemed that the Golden Lions would fall apart but instead they came back with a magnificent counterattack initiated by Alwyn Hollenbach. They should have scored when the ball came from a tackle/ruck to Hollenbach going left. He ignored Jackson on his outside and seemed certain to score till a magnificent tackle by Mokuena pulled him up short and hard.
A penalty to the Golden Lions gave them a five-metre line-out and Minnie went for the line but again Mokuena was on hand to stop him and force a turnover but the Golden Lions were on the charge. Hollenbach countered again and then from another five-metre line-out Alberts charged. Pretorius stayed hanging onto him and was penalised and sent to the sin bin. In his absence the Golden Lions scored 13 points.
The Golden Lions went to 29-21 and attacked as Walter Venter and Cobus Grobbelaar ran down the right. From a scrum they went left with two wrap-arounds to send Hollenbach over. On a day of great goal-kicking Kruger made the score 29-28 with 15 minutes to go. It was painful.
When Nontshinga played Noble without the ball Kruger kicked a magnificent goal from a long way out and the Golden Lions led 31-29.
At this stage Pretorius emerged from the sin bin and immediately Griquas looked a different team. They attacked but Davon Raubenheimer knocked on. The Golden Lions cleared down to the touch-line on their right where Riaan Viljoen of the soaring drops gathered the ball. He shaped to kick and did not do so instead he ran on a swerving run down the touch-line that took him past two defenders before he gave to Pretorius and the scrumhalf dummied and beat three defenders, stretching out in Jackson’s tackle to score. Olivier, of course, converted. 36-31 to Griquas with four minutes to play.
Griquas had the ball comfortably at a delayed tackle/ruck when suddenly the Golden Lions counterrucked and won a penalty. That gave them a penalty in the Griqua 22. They mauled. They had mauled well throughout the match but this one looked a winner as they plodded to the line and over the line, where they were held up to win a five-metre scrum with less than a minute to play. From the scrum they bashed at the tough Griquas and then, as the final siren sounded, they went wide to the right where Noble failed to hold a lofted pass and then, recovering the ball, was penalised for holding on. Griquas kicked the ball to victory.
Man of the Match: There were fine performances from Jaco Bekker and Jacques Lombard, but our Man of the Match is Griquas captain Jonathan Mokuena – who attacked the opponents’ line and saved his own, who won vital line-out ball, who generally was an inspiration.
Tries: Nontshinga, Olivier, S Pretorius
Cons: Olivier 3
Pens: Olivier 5
For the Golden Lions:
Tries: Jackson, Minnie, Hollenbach
Cons: Kruger 2
Pens: Kruger 4
Yellow card: Sarel Pretorius (Griquas, 60 – repeated offences at the breakdown)Tweet