Griquas close gap on Free State
Brendon Atwell
June 08, 2018

The Tafel Lager Griquas closed the gap on the Toyota Free State Cheetahs XV in the Central Section of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge with a 27-19 (halftime 14-7) victory at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein on Friday.

The visitors punished the home side through the boot of flyhalf George Whitehead, who landed five penalties and ultimately handed the home side their first defeat of the season and opened the door for Griquas to take top spot.

Free State, who began the match on 29 points after six unbeaten games, led Griquas by seven points but the victory for the men from Kimberley closed the gap to just three points with last year’s losing finalists having a game in hand over their neighbours.

Griquas gained the early advantage when Whitehead slotted two penalty attempts to give the visitors a six-point lead but Free State hit back with a converted try from flank Daniel Jordaan.

The visitors though would finish the first half strongly with Whitehead landing his third penalty and then lock Pieter Jansen van Vuuren scoring Griquas’ first try in the corner, which went unconverted to hand the visitors a seven point advantage heading into the break.

Whitehead extended the lead to 10 points early in the second half before the home side ran in their second try through No 8 Jasper Wiese.

The home side’s hopes of overhauling their opponents were dashed at the halfway stage of the second period when replacement winger Christopher Bosch finished off a good move to score.

With Whitehead converting the try, the home side trailed by 12 points.

The home side though failed to give up and fought back with their third try of the afternoon through replacement centre Sango Xamlashe, who had just come onto the field moments before.

Janse van Rensburg landed the conversion to leave the Free State XV just five points adrift heading into the final 10 minutes of the game.

But Free State infringed yet again and Whitehead, who missed just one kick at goal all afternoon, stepped up and landed his fifth penalty to seal the four points but also deny the home side a losing bonus-point.

Griquas will have a chance to move top of the Central Section when they take on the Cell C Sharks XV at the Sis Dukashe Stadium next Sunday before both sides finish off the round robin phase on Saturday, 23 June, with Griquas travelling to the Down Touch Griffons while Free State face off against the Sharks XV at the Princess Magogo Stadium.


Toyota Free State XV – Tries: Daniel Jordaan, Jasper Wiese, Sango Xamlashe; Conversions: Barend Janse van Rensburg (2).

Tafel Lager Griquas – Tries: Pieter Jansen van Vuuren, Christopher Bosch; Conversion: George Whitehead; Penalties: Whitehead (5).

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