The Xerox Golden Lions continued with their impressive 2015 form when they defeated the Toyota FS Cheetahs 73-31 to clinch their eighth consecutive Absa Currie Cup win of the season, whilst DHL WP racked up another bonus point win.
The log-leading Lions scored ten tries, but they also allowed the Free Staters to score five of their own in Bloemfontein.
In Cape Town, 2014 winners DHL Western Province increased their chances of possibly hosting a semifinal when they defeated the Steval Pumas 50-19 after overturning a 15-19 half-time deficit.
Meanwhile, the Vodacom Blue Bulls returned to winning ways again after suffering two defeats in a row. They edged the Cell C Sharks 17-13 in Durban on Friday and the win enabled them to hold onto second place, despite Province breathing down their necks with the same amount of league points.
In the remaining fixture of the weekend, the Eastern Province Kings scored their second win thanks to a close-fought 40-37 triumph over the ORC Griquas in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
After eight rounds, the Lions increased their lead to 38 points and they are followed by the Blue Bulls and WP both on 29 points.
The Bulls have a slightly better points’ difference and are therefore placed second. The Cheetahs follow next on 18, then the Sharks (14), Pumas (13), EP Kings (12) and Griquas (8). Just two more rounds of league action now remains before the semifinal play-offs.
Toyota Free State Cheetahs (10) 31 Xerox Golden Lions (31) 73
The Golden Lions continued with their unbeaten run and scored their eighth consecutive win in their ten try, 73-31 demolition of the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Courtnall Skosan (wing) and skipper Jaco Kriel (flank) both bagged two tries each for the rampant Lions, which saw the Johannesburg side collecting their sixth bonus point from eight games. Flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff converted all tries and added a penalty for a personal tally of 23 points.
Cheetahs flank Vincent Jobo bagged a hat-trick of tries as just reward for his team’s positive attitude, despite the heavy onslaught from the log leaders. The Free Staters’ four-try bonus point means they are still very much in the hunt for a play-off berth.
Free State Cheetahs: Tries: Sergeal Petersen, Vincent Jobo (3), Francois Venter; Conversions: Sias Ebersohn (2), Fred Zeilinga.
Xerox Golden Lions: Tries: Courtnall Skosan (2), Steph de Wit, Jaco Kriel (2), Howard Mnisi, Warren Whiteley, Jaco van der Walt, Kwagga Smith, Anthony Volmink; Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (10); Penalty: Boshoff.
DHL Western Province (15) 50 Steval Pumas (19) 19
DHL Western Province intensified their race for a home semifinal when they ran in seven tries to three to defeat Steval Pumas 50-19 (half-time 15-19) in their fixture at DHL Newlands on Saturday.
Province matched their attacking flair with rock solid defence in the second half, which kept the visitors scoreless after the break.
Junior Springbok flyhalf Robert du Preez scored two tries and landed four conversions and a penalty for a personal tally of 21 points, but it was the manner in which the home side controlled the second half that gave their supporters hope of hosting a semifinal and a chance of defending their title.
The Pumas, despite conceding an early try to No.8 Nizaam Carr after 10 minutes, dominated the early exchanges and grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck with tries from left wing Rosko Specman and a familiar face to the DHL Newlands Faithful in prop Vincent Koch.
Koch’s try came about as a result of a yellow card to DHL WP centre Johnny Kotze, who was sin-binned for an alleged dangerous tackle. Scrumhalf Jano Vermaak replied for the home side with their second try. But as was the case earlier in the half, the Pumas caught the home side napping and Springbok Sevens wing Specman grabbed his second try of the afternoon immediately after the kick-off.
The second stanza was all about the hosts with Du Preez controlling play brilliantly. He scored two tries and were followed by Kobus van Wyk, Jurie van Vuuren and Alistair Vermaak.
DHL Western Province: Tries: Robert du Preez (2), Nizaam Carr, Jano Vermaak, Kobus van Wyk, Jurie van Vuuren, Ali Vermaak; Conversions: Du Preez (4), Dimitri Catrakilis (2); Penalty: Du Preez.
Steval Pumas: Tries: Rosko Specman (2), Vincent Koch; Conversions: Justin van Staden (2).
Eastern Province Kings 40 (21) ORC Griquas 37 (25)
The match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday was always going to be a closely-contested affair between the sides placed seventh and eighth on the log. The stakes were high as the loser would be rooted to the bottom of the standings with just two matches left to play.
It was the EP Kings who came away with the honours when captain and centre, Tim Whitehead, scored in the last movement of the game to clinch only their second win of the season.
In a highly entertaining affair, both teams scored five tries but it was the Kings who came away with a full haul of five match points. Danie Dames scored twice for Griquas to assist them to clinch two log points for their efforts.
Eastern Province Kings: Tries: Luther Obi, Paul Schoeman (2), Tim Whitehead (2); Conversions: Scott van Breda (3); Penalties: Van Breda (3).
ORC Griquas: Tries: Danie Dames (2), Clinton Swart, Carel Greeff, AJ le Roux; Conversions: Clinton Swart (3); Penalties: Swart (2).
Cell C Sharks (6) 13 Vodacom Blue Bulls (10) 17
The Vodacom Blue Bulls beat the Sharks 17-13 in their clash at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban on Friday. The visitors led 10-6 at the break and outscored their hosts by two tries to one. After suffering consecutive wins, the Bulls scored their sixth win of the season and they remain second.
The Sharks’ chances of a semifinal showing now rests on the results of others and with two rounds left they still have a mathematical chance, albeit a slim one.
Rookie Garth April scored the Sharks’ only try while Joe Pietersen added the rest with two penalties and a conversion. Jamba Ulengo and Deon Stegmann were the Bulls’ try scorers and Tian Schoeman slotted the two conversions and a penalty.
Sharks replacement prop Mzamo Majola, a 2015 Junior Springbok, was yellow carded for a dangerous clean out which allowed the Bulls to kick the ball out and secure a nail-biting 17-13 win.
Cell C Sharks: Try: Garth April; Conversion: Joe Pietersen; Penalties: Pietersen (2).
Vodacom Blue Bulls: Tries: Jamba Ulengo, Deon Stegmann; Conversions: Tian Schoeman (2); Penalty Schoeman.