SuperSport Rugby Challenge Semi-Finals Review

Picture: SARUGBYMA

JOHANNESBURG: The iCOLLEGE Pumas and Tafel Lager Griquas will meet at the Bridgton Sports Grounds in Oudtshoorn next Sunday to determine who will be crowned as the new kings of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge for 2018.

The Nelspruit team, the only unbeaten side left in this exciting tournament that wowed spectators across the country, on Friday secured their trip to the Southern Cape with a 30-17 win over the Cell C Sharks XV.

Tafel Lager Griquas had the Tafel Lager Park crowd in Kimberley in raptures on Saturday when they beat the Toyota Free State XV by 27-14 in the second semi-final.

The Lowveld clash was tight, but it was the iCOLLEGE Pumas who kept their cool and made the most of their opportunities in the second half to clinch victory. The scores were tied at the break, following a converted try and a penalty goal from both teams.

The visitors scored their second try soon after the restart at the Mbombela Stadium and held a 17-13 lead, before two tries by the home team proved the difference.

First, leading points’ scorer in the competition, iCOLLEGE Pumas flyhalf, Chris Smith, narrowed the gap with his third penalty goal. The home side then took the lead again with 12 minutes remaining as replacement prop De-Jay Terblanche bundled his way over.

Smith added the extra points from the tee before the iCOLLEGE Pumas wrapped matters up with a final try by scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer, which was also converted by Smith, who finished with 15 points on the day.

A strong first half by Tafel Lager Griquas secured them a consecutive finals berth in the tournament. Their 24-0 lead at the break proved to be crucial as their neighbours to the east rallied strongly in the second half, again spurred on by the efforts of Jasper Wiese and Carel-Jan Coetzee.

Tafel Lager Griquas flyhalf George Whitehead opened the scoring with a penalty goal before lock Pieter van Vuuren forced his way over for the opening try of the match. Whitehead kicked the conversion as Griquas took a 10-0 lead much to the delight of their home fans.

There was more celebration on the half hour as hooker Khwezi Mkhafu scored his team’s second try and Whitehead again added the conversion.

It was all Tafel Lager Griquas as left wing Kyle Steyn rounded off a superb half for the home team by scoring the third try on the stroke of halftime. Whitehead added the extras for a 24-0 scoreline.

The Toyota Free State XV eventually got on the scoreboard after 50 minutes when Wiese crashed over for a try which was converted by flyhalf Ernst Stapelberg before Whitehead slotted another penalty goal for the home side.

The visitors were starting to find some momentum and Coetzee narrowed the deficit to 13 points with 19 minutes to play as he scored for Stapelberg to convert.

SuperSport Rugby Challenge semi-final results and scorers are:

iCOLLEGE Pumas 30 (10), Cell C Sharks XV 17 (10)

iCOLLEGE Pumas – Tries: Ruwellyn Isbell, De-Jay Terblanche, Stefan Ungerer. Conversions: Chris Smit (3). Penalties: Chris Smith (3).

Cell C Sharks XV – Tries: Gideon Koegelenberg, Kwanda Dimaza. Conversions: Garth April, Danrich Visagie. Penalty: Garth April.

Tafel Lager Griquas 27 (24), Free State XV 14 (0)

Tafel Lager Griquas – Tries: Pieter van Vuuren, Khwezi Mkhafu, Kyle Steyn. Conversions: George Whitehead (3). Penalties: George Whitehead (2).

Toyota Free State XV – Tries: Jasper Wiese, Carel-Jan Coetzee. Conversions: Ernst Stapelberg (2).