Griquas keep semi hopes alive
Griquas kept their hopes of a Currie Cup semifinal place alive when they recorded a 61-31 (halftime 40-12) victory over the Pumas at the Pumas Stadium in Witbank on Saturday.
The visitors scored nine tries to five to climb to 36 log points and sixth place on the log with one match remaining -- against the Blue Bulls in the final round of league action.
Depending on what happens in the weekend’s final match, between the Cheetahs and Lions, the men from Kimberley may find themselves out of contention anyway, but at least they gave themselves a chance with a spirited display against the competition’s second-from-bottom team.
Once again, it was winger Bjorn Basson who had a massive say in the outcome. The Springbok, who is headed for the Bulls after the Currie Cup, scored another two tries to take his season tally to 19 -- thereby equalling the tournament try-scoring record held by Bok great Carel du Plessis and former Leopards wing Colin Lloyd.
Even if Griquas have little to play for against the Bulls, it will still be a massive game for Basson, who has 80 minutes in which to claim the record for himself.
Flyhalf Naas Olivier was another who showed good form on the day -- he kicked seven conversions to go with a try for a personal tally of 19 points.
Indeed, it was Olivier who opened the scoring with a try after just two minutes before scrumhalf partner Sarel Pretorius made it 12-0 just two minutes later when he darted through some weak Pumas defence.
The dam wall then well and truly burst with just eight minutes on the clock, Basson crossing for his first for Olivier to convert and give the visitors a 19-0 lead.
Flanker Corné Steenkamp pulled one back for the Pumas when he barged over for the first of his two tries after 12 minutes, which precipitated a tit-for-tat scoring sequence involving Griquas’ Barry Geel and Steenkamp again.
But Riaan Viljoen and Ryno Barnes ensured that it was Griquas who held a vice-like grip on the match at the break, the fullback and hooker crossing in the 32nd and 34th minutes respectively to open up a 40-12 lead.
Wesley Wilkins, Basson and Rocco Jansen added further tries in the second half although it was the Pumas’ reserve flyhalf Elgar Watts who had the final say, crossing for an injury-time try to give his side some measure of respect on the scoreboard.
But despite their strong finish, the Pumas will know that their season is not quite finished, with do-or-die promotion-relegation matches against the EP Kings to come.
Pumas 31 -- Tries: Corné Steenkamp (2), Elgar Watts, Hendrik van der Nest, Shaun Venter. Conversions: Watts (2), Ricardo Croy.
Griquas 61 -- Tries: Barry Geel, Bjorn Basson (2), Naas Olivier, Riaan Viljoen, Rocco Jansen, Ryno Barnes, Sarel Pretorius, Wesley Wilkins. Conversions: Olivier (7), Rudi Vogt.