Currie Cup wrap: Central franchises flex their muscles

Ox Nche of the Free State Cheetahs on a run during the Currie Cup match between Vodacom Blue Bulls and Toyota Free State XV at Loftus Versfeld on July 19, 2019 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images)

Ox Nche of the Free State Cheetahs on a run during the Currie Cup match between Vodacom Blue Bulls and Toyota Free State XV at Loftus Versfeld on July 19, 2019 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images)

Griquas are sitting pretty at the top as the Cheetahs surprise with a comprehensive Loftus win.

The Free State Cheetahs and Sharks registered important victories in the second round of the Currie Cup Premier Division over the weekend to remain close of the early pace-setters on the log, Griquas, who earned their second bonus-point win of the season.

The Kimberley outfit kicked off the weekend’s action on Friday with a 37-29 victory against the Pumas at Park thanks to their five tries to four, and the Cheetahs followed their lead with a morale-boosting 43-27 win against the Blue Bulls in Pretoria after a bye in the opening week.

In Saturday’s match, the Sharks held their nerve in a tightly-fought encounter against Western Province in Durban for a bonus-point 32-27 win which allowed them to bounce back strongly from a disappointing defeat in round one.

In Kimberley, Griquas held a narrow 10-5 halftime lead after scoring a converted try and penalty goal to only one try by the visitors in the first half, but they made good use of their chances after the break  when Anthony Volmink (wing) wrapped up his brace – with a late penalty goal and try in the dying minutes sealing them a 37-29 victory.

The Free State Cheetahs, meanwhile, laid a solid foundation in the first half against the Blue Bulls and they continued to test the home side’s defence as the match progressed to earn a bonus-point win.

The Free Staters stamped their authority in the first half by forcing their way over the advantage line at will, and they did well to capitalise on their try-scoring chances – which saw Benhard Janse van Rensburg (centre) score twice en route to their 22-12 halftime lead. They continued to make their presence felt as the match progressed and out-scored the hosts six tries to five in the end.

Saturday’s match between the Sharks and Western Province was very competitive as both teams threw everything at one another, but the KwaZulu-Natalians’ effectiveness at converting their chances into points was crucial in their 32-27 win.

It was a hard-fought match characterised by strong forward play and good running.

However, their four tries to three by the Capetonians – one of which was while they were down to 14 men after Justin Phillips (scrumhalf) was sent to the sin bin for slowing down the ball at a ruck – allowed the home team to bounce back from a disappointing first-round defeat against Griquas.

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