Griffons break their duck
The Griffons broke their Vodacom Cup duck in dramatic fashion on Saturday when they held on for a 40-38 (halftime 27-14) win over the Boland Cavaliers at the North West Stadium in Welkom.
The Griffons’ hero was flyhalf Tiaan van Wyk, who kicked 20 points by way of four conversions and four penalties -- of which the last, struck with nine minutes left, separated the sides in a see-saw affair in which not one of the 500 spectators dared leave early.
While Van Wyk’s 70th-minute penalty will be toasted well into the night, Boland fullback Willie le Roux will be left thinking what might have been after he missed a penalty three minutes into added time that would have given the Cavaliers the spoils.
But such is rugby, and Le Roux’s last-gasp miss shouldn’t muddy the fact that the fullback contributed 13 points via a try and four conversions.
The Griffons, who lost another nailbiter last week when they went down 19-16 to the Border Bulldogs in East London, started like the proverbial house on fire, racing to a 20-0 lead inside 21 minutes.
Van Wyk got the scoreboard going with a sixth-minute penalty before tough-as-nails eighthman Nicky Steyn crashed over two minutes later for his side’s first try.
Van Wyk’s conversion and a further penalty made it 13-0 before evergreen lock Windpomp van Rooyen rumbled over for Van Wyk to convert and leave the Bolanders wondering what had hit them.
But the Cavaliers, who lost 32-10 to the Golden Lions last week on the back of a famous victory at Loftus Versfeld over the Blue Bulls, pulled themselves together and began the task of clawing their way back into the game.
Prop Rossouw Kruger got the ball rolling before the first of two tries by skipper Bolla Conradie made it 20-14 on the half hour.
But the Griffons struck back just before the break when former Pukke scrumhalf Andries Mahoney darted over for Van Wyk to convert and open up a 13-point gap.
But the Bolanders weren’t about to go quietly into the night, and tries to Le Roux, Conradie and centre Jonathan Francke before the hour mark silenced the home crowd as the visitors went ahead for the first time -- 33-30.
Thabang Molefe gave the Griffons their bonus-point with 18 minutes left but Boland lock Grant le Roux swung the balance back in his side’s favour with a try that made it 38-37.
With play becoming increasingly frantic as the minutes ticked away, it was cool customer Van Wyk who then sealed the contest when he stepped up to slot what would prove to be decisive penalty.
Griffons 40 – Tries: Nicky Steyn, Windpomp van Rooyen, Andries Mahoney, Thabang Molefe. Conversions: Tiaan van Wyk (4). Penalties: Van Wyk (4).
Boland 38 – Tries: Rossouw Kruger, Bolla Conradie (2), Willie le Roux, Jonathan Francke, Grant le Roux. Conversions: Le Roux (4).